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Swiss 'groundhog day' forecasts worst ever summer

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Swiss 'groundhog day' forecasts worst ever summer
File photo: Andreas Omvik/Zurich Tourism
10:38 CEST+02:00
If you were looking forward to a long, hot summer you might be sorely disappointed if the outcome of this year's burning of the Böögg is to be relied upon.

A Swiss tradition in the vein of groundhog day in the US, the burning of the Böögg is a central part of Zurich's Sechseläuten spring festival in which a snowman effigy is set alight on a bonfire to symbolically drive away winter.

According to folklore, the longer it takes the Böögg's head – which is packed with firecrackers – to explode, the worse the summer weather will be.

During this year's rain-soaked event, held on Monday, the unfortunate Böögg's bonce took longer than ever before to explode, finally succumbing in a record 43 minutes and 34 seconds, three minutes more than the previous record.

The shortest ever time was in 2003 when the Böögg exploded in just five minutes 42 seconds – and Europe went on to have an extremely hot summer.

However the Böögg isn't always this accurate. Last year's time of 20 minutes and 39 seconds presumed a relatively lousy summer but it turned out to be one of the hottest on record.

Blending tradition with modernity, since 2011 the Böögg has had his own Twitter account to live-tweet his demise.

Appropriately, Monday's Sechseläuten took place under rainy skies in Zurich, meaning fewer people than normal took to the streets to celebrate the annual event,  according to 20 Minuten.

Many workplaces gave their employees time off to enjoy the day's activities, to the bemusement of some.

No major incidents were reported, unlike last year when eight people were injured by flying debris from a firecracker which police said was deliberately thrown into the bonfire.

Also last year a horse used in the Böögg ceremony collapsed and died of a heart attack.

Traditionally members of the city's guilds parade in traditional costumes on horseback around the bonfire when the Böögg is burning.

This year organizers insisted that anyone riding a horse during the ceremony must be a qualified rider.

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