Monday, April 11, 2011

Zürich - Part I

Sometimes I am a very bad tourist. The kind most people disparagingly mock. The kind who shows up in a country just assuming that the power outlets are the same shape as the country next door. FYI, they aren't. Now I have my computer plugged into a daisy chain of adapters - North America - Germany - Switzerland, no direct conversion was possible. Zürich is a lovely city (pics next post). Not just for banks and expensive chocolate - the Swiss people are very unique.

It turns out I showed up on some kind of civic holiday, when the medieval guilds kick off the summer season. I didn't think anyone belonged to a guild anymore, but I could not have been more mistaken. Yesterday was the children's parade - essentially a multicultural festival where kids dress up in traditional costumes, but randomness abounded.
This small contingent of Roman legionaries was not actually part of the parade, and actually cut off the Armenian children by storming the parade route
As I later leaned, the children's parade was only the opener to the adult parade the next day. In the grown-up version, the male guild members walk along the route in guild costumes. There are also a lot of brass bands - Switzerland is next-door to Germany, after all. The finale of the grownup parade is - wait for it - the lighting on fire of a giant snowman effigy stuffed with explosives. Bet you didn't see that one coming. If he explodes fast, summer will be warm and dry. If it takes a while, it'll be a rainy year.

The man of the hour being towed along the parade route

You would think nothing would have distracted me from burning shrapnel flying from the giant exploding snowman on the other side of the street. That's when the men of the fisher's guild started pelting the crowd with whole raw fish (you know, like in normal parades when the marchers toss candy into the crowd?), and the burning debris became an afterthought. Nothing about this seemed like a good idea, until I learned that when the inferno had burned down a bit, people barbecued over Frosty's remains. Maybe then a raw fish becomes something more desirable to have on hand? After the main route, all the guilds split up and marched separately to the guild houses where riotous partying ensued. This is clearly one of those festivals which I can say with a high degree of confidence would never work in North America.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I made a fool of myself laughing audibly in the Saskatoon airport over this one! I think it was the whole raw fish that did me in...