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Switzerland celebrates the end of winter by blowing up a snowman

Boom goes the snowman.
Boom goes the snowman.
Roland zh
Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.

On Tuesday, the residents of Zurich, Switzerland blew up a snowman filled with firecrackers. His name is Böögg, and his swift demise predicts a hot summer.

I should probably explain.

Böögg, also known as big Böögg or the Boeoegg, is the Swiss equivalent of America's Groundhog Day, except it predicts the length of summer instead of winter. When the cotton wool snowman's head explodes, winter is officially over. The faster it explodes, the longer and hotter summer will be. Boom!

The demolition of the Böögg is part of the annual Sechseläuten festival, a Swiss tradition officially dating back to 1818 that really originates in the 13th century. Back then, Swiss workers agreed to work until 6 pm every day, except in the winter where shorter days forced them to work from dawn till dusk. Sechseläuten celebrates the return of longer days and the 6 pm closing bell. That's why poor Böögg is executed at precisely 6 pm every year.

This year, Böögg lasted a paltry 7 minutes and 23 seconds, a fast death which should predict a nice summer. But his track record hasn't been great: it took him 35 minutes and 11 seconds to explode last year, and Switzerland's summer was apparently lovely.

Anyway, here's a video of the 2011 Böögg's last moments. Pay your respects:

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