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Banishing the Boogg



-- Posted Tuesday, 22 April 2008 | Digg This ArticleDigg It! | Source: GoldSeek.com

The Wallace Street Journal

 

By David Bond, Editor

The Silver Valley Mining Journal

 

 

Wallace, Idaho – One can get tired of whining, and of the whining about, Winter's long stay here in the Bitterroots. We're all crabbing about yet another day of snow or foul weather. We're getting sick and tired of being sick and tired.

 

The Swiss have no such temerity opposing the perfidies of Nature. Unlike us, they do not whine. When they are tired of Winter, they burn it down and then they blow it up in a splendid festival called Sechselauten – meaning in contemporary English, the Sixth Ringing Festival. Every year, third Monday of April in Zurich, Zurichers haul an effigy of Winter, which looks like a snowman and named appropriately the Boogg, into the old town square, parade and drink around it for far too many hours, then they set fire to the 100-foot-high pyre of straw and hay and wood he sits upon. If the fire doesn't do its job in a timely manner, they blow the Boogg up. It's a nasty, magnificent sound that reverberates around the Norman and Parisian style architecture of the Old City and heralds  Springtime, whether Nature agrees or not.

 

Now, this is a country that stages cow fights in this same month, so you must bear with them. But consider that the 600-year tradition of setting the Boogg of winter afire has given us such splendid words as Boogie, as in a big party (or a form of jazz), and Bogey (literally, in 19th Century slang, the devil, or a messy golf shot), as in the evil man who lives in your closet when you are young. The Boogg originated from 17th Century Swiss slang for that annoying hunk of stuff that clings to the innards of your nose, but that you cannot in polite company remove.

 

Quoting from an English translation of a local Swiss history on a splendid website entitled Sacred Texts:

 

“For over six hundred years the city of Zurich has symbolically driven out Winter and welcomed Spring with the traditional Sechselauten, Six Ringing Festival, which is observed on a Sunday and Monday early in April.

 

“The festival originated in the Middle Ages when the trade guilds governed the city. On the Monday following the spring equinox (March 21) it was customary for the cathedral bells to start ringing at six, instead of seven o'clock--the usual time--to announce the end of the guild member's working day. This first day of change from winter to summer schedule was celebrated as a guild holiday. For centuries the bells rang as a signal to cease work. Gradually the general public sought to join in festivities. Finally the Six Ringing, which started as a purely guild holiday, became an affair in which all of Zurich's citizens shared.

 

“The festival opens on Sunday with a school children's parade and pageant, followed on Monday by a splendid procession of the various guilds, some twenty-four of which still exist. The city presents a gala appearance with bunting, cantonal flags and pennants fluttering from houses and public buildings. Immense crowds from surrounding areas gather to see the procession. School children in regional costume precede a float on which is enthroned a pretty girl personifying Spring, surrounded by flowers, garlands, and numerous attendants.

 

“Then comes Boogg, traditional embodiment of Old Man Winter, whom the crowd boos and derides as he goes past on a moving platform. Boogg is a huge snow man, fashioned over a wooden frame and stuffed with firecrackers and explosives of all kinds. Boogg's attendants, in contrast to Spring's fair young companions, are a crowd of jeering, dancing clowns who stick out their tongues and add their own quips and insults to those of the spectators. Boogg is carried to the Bellevue Platz overlooking the Lake of Zurich. Lifted high on a pole above an immense unlighted bonfire, the personification of Winter awaits his fate at six o'clock on the following day.

 

“On Monday tradespeople and craftsmen from country districts come into Zurich to participate in the guild procession. Members of the barbers', bakers', hat makers', butchers', weavers', and other guilds are dressed in historic costume and carry the traditional symbols and standards of their various trades and professions. The barbers, for example, may carry a pair of scissors as tall as a house, the bakers toss rolls to the crowd, or the hat makers sport about a gigantic hat. All the capering and marching is accompanied by numerous bands, including the fifers and drummers for which the area is famous.

 

“The colourful procession proceeds before cheering crowds, marches along the banks of the Limmat and comes to Bellevue Platz, where Boogg is impaled above his pyre. Promptly at six o'clock the bells start ringing. Fife and drum bands play loudly the stirring Zurcher Sechselauten Marsch. The people shout with joy. The bonfire under Boogg is lighted. Suddenly the flames spring upward and the explosive-filled figure of the snow man ignites. White-robed horsemen gallop about the fire as firecrackers explode and parts of Boogg fly in all directions, amid a deafening roar of noise and confusion. Round and round the horsemen ride, forming a magic circle about Winter, to prevent his escape from the flames.”

 

Winter has been a booger here in Wallace as well. It has overstayed its welcome. Since Wallace's town sisters didn't go for our earlier suggestion that our new winter slogan ought to promise that our snow never yellows, but always stays white, we've a new proposition. Why not follow the Swiss' lead, and chase Winter out of town, making book all the while on the actual departure date?

 

(We're already making book on when that monster pile of snow the ploughs dumped on the west end of town will disappear, the earliest guesses being sometime around July 4th – the more sensible projections reaching out toward Labour Day, when the long-suffering of this mining camp can start expecting the first flurries of the 2008-'09 winter.)

 

But why not burn just Winter in effigy, and blow it up? Why cannot we blow up the evils of the United Snakes Fednote as well? A nice rendition of a Paulson, or a Bernanke, or a Brownspan, a Nixon or a John D. Rockefeller, puffed out in all their pusillanimous glory, perhaps all holding hands together, blown to Kingdom Come, thereby declaring our freedom from the Central Banks? Signify our demand that in return for our honest labours, we get instead of their corrupt paper an honest measure of gold and silver?

 

It could be done. It should be done. It must be done. However, there's no place in Wallace where this giant explosion could occur without risking damage to valuable architectural properties. But if we had it in downtown Kellogg, no such risk would prevail. The Swiss of Old Zurich recognize that blowing up Winter is merely a symbolic act. But so was the Boston Tea Party. Time we got started. I'll bring the matches.


-- Posted Tuesday, 22 April 2008 | Digg This Article | Source: GoldSeek.com




 



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