Saturday, April 19, 2008

I Love a Parade! Well, some anyway.

Last Monday was Sechselaeuten! Sex-a-what? you ask? Not the most common of holidays and, well, not celebrated anywhere else but Zurich. Most people, like my husband, have a half-day off. Stores are closed. Sort of like the Boys Shooting Day holiday in fall - also held in Zurich. And, no, they don't shoot at each other.

Our friends (and Bart's co-worker), M & J, live along the river in Zurich and just happen to have the parade route right underneath their windows. So they kindly opened their apartment for the 2nd year in a row to friends and co-workers to come and enjoy the parade with goodies and a roof overhead. It poured during parts of the parade so we were all thankful for the roof.

This parade is for members of the Guilds - medieval trade societies that at one time ran Zurich and the surrounding areas in lieu of a central government. Trades such as the tailors, blacksmiths, bakers, fishermen, etc... You are only a member of a guild if a former family member was - or, and I'm guessing here but an educated guess, if you apply and have enough dinero for the membership fees. Only men are members of the guild and women do not march as part of the parade UNLESS you are part of a marching band or are family of the guild member and dressed in period costume. Of course, last years parade included the current Swiss Parliamentary President as a guest, a woman - wearing a very nice, dark suit.

Please remember - this is a country where women didn't start voting until 1971! And - why I will not choose to raise my girls permanently here. In spite of the freedoms we have here that we don't in the US. Believe it or not - our countries laws in protecting the rights of some are stripping the rights of others. Personal responsibility anyone? OK - enough - this is not a political blog and I am getting off track......

What I love about this Parade is the history it represents. The costumes run the gamut of Arabic Moors who developed trade routes through Zurich, 16th, 17th and 18th century costumes, humourous traditions (throwing bread and fish to the crowds) and the tradition of presenting flowers to members of the guild you are aquainted with or who are family. The more flowers you end up with at the end of the parade - they more people you know! How many men do we know are willing to walk down the street holding large bouquets of flowers? Masculinity is not threatened here at all! :)

And as the flowers are presented, there is the accompanying "Swiss Kiss." They have to be different, of course, and they kiss the cheeks 3 times instead of the standard European two. I always feel there's danger of whiplash when kissing this way. And it definitely slows down the parade:
The blacksmiths are above and I don't recall the guild below but they are all in Medieval costume.
The Moors developed trade routes throughout Europe. (And I think I've seen those camels at the Zurich Zoo - pretty sure:) )
Interesting flag below. Apparently an uninvited guest - definitely not a standard Guild flag. So the man and his dog are being "gently persuaded" to leave the parade route.
My pic's are a bit out of order but if I mess with them - they are trapped and cannot be enlarged. Which means I need to choose their download order better. But here we are in our typical travel pattern - Bart leading the pack and Mom trailing behind with the camera.
The rain didn't keep people away from the Bahnhofstrasse or the Parade. Although, attendance was understandably down.

On our way to M & J's along the empty parade route. All of the benches have reserved seating marked by white tags for the Guild members families.
From the window - the Parade crossing the Limmat River.
Here are the Baker's - keeping the flour sacks dry. Following this is the baking cart which they throw warm fresh rolls from. Rachel yelled out "Halllloooo" in her best German (yes, they say Hallo vs our English 'Hello" and she's quite good - don't ask her to say anything else though!) and they threw many rolls at the windows we were hanging out of - 4 floors up. We did get several (obvious these Swiss bakers did not grow up playing baseball) - and Rachel ate one.
The Tailor's guild. Our neighbor's son-in-law was riding with this guild. And here are the young boys who traditionally "pretend" to lop off the hats of parade goers.
Definitely a parade worth going to in our book. It was our second year but with M & J heading back to the States this summer :( we'll see whether we want to see it on the street or not.
Have a great day!!!

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