Exploding snowman forecasts hot summer for Switzerland

Members of a guild riding horses around the Boeoegg Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption The Sechselauten festival is celebrated each spring in Switzerland

If tradition is to be believed, the Swiss will be enjoying a good summer this year.

The country celebrated Sechselauten this Monday - a spring festival in which hundreds of horses parade through the streets of Zurich then gallop around a bonfire, on top of which is the Boeoegg - a snowman representing winter.

The Boeoegg's head is stuffed with firecrackers and the belief is that the faster it explodes, the warmer the summer will be. This year it took a relatively quick nine minutes and 56 seconds, The Local reports.

Of course, the reality is that this prediction doesn't always bear out. Last year, it took the Boeoegg a record-breaking 43 minutes and 34 seconds long to explode, but the summer was still quite hot and dry.

The festival has also raised concerns among animal-lovers who fear it places too great a stress on the horses taking part, Swiss Info website reports.

However, veterinary students at the University of Zurich monitored the heart rates of several horses in last year's event, and said they found that the horses were only moderately stressed. So any raised heartbeats now should be reserved for the question of whether the Boeoegg's forecast this year will turn out to be right.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption "Sechselauten" refers to the ringing of church bells at six o'clock, the time workers traditionally finished working in summer

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