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The Böögg

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#1 Khundekling


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Posted 19 February 2019 - 06:01 PM

No it's not the Cybernetic Humanoids from Star Trek or a Wetland that you might get your Welly stuck in! The Böögg is a Snowman ... that is set on fire and has its head blown up!!!



I was having one of my random day dreams and got to wondering if Snowmen had pagan origins? If the snow effigy came about from an old winter custom? Well, from what I found the answer is no. Just humans making images of themselves. Although it would appear that in the past, snowmen were a target for peoples aggression. Children would make them and then throw stones at them. There are also other examples of similar events. Perhaps mimicking the public stocks and executions as a form of entertainment?


Anyway.. in my search for answers, I came across the Böögg. The Böögg is part of the Swiss Sechseläuten festival that takes place in Zurich, where at the end of the winter/beginning of spring a large paper snowman whose head is filled with fireworks is set on fire. Like a winter sacrifice. The time from when the fire is lit to the explosion of the fireworks, is supposed to predict how good the summer will be. A short time indicates warm & sunny, a long time indicates cold and wet. It doesn't seem to be very accurate though, still.. great excuse for a party! 

It would seem the name Böögg is linked to the "Bogeyman" and started out as an effigy a bit like a scarecrow that children would drag through the streets and set on fire. The Böögg and Sechseläuten were separate events, as Sechseläuten is a celebration of the clocks changing from winter to summertime and workers getting more free time in daylight hours. As the children were holding their own little celebration the two merged and over the years their Böögg became the main event.



Now, I've gone on a bit of a "down the rabbit hole" trip and this is just me joining dots, that probably aren't there. So what I'm about to say is purely theoretical.



That being said, The Böögg or Bogeyman is a character that is spoken of to children, in many different countries and cultures, to keep them from misbehaving. In Russia this bogeyman is called Baba Yaga, who is described as a witch. So what if the bogeyman in other countries originated from stories of a witch. There are certainly other tales of witches taking badly behaved children into the woods etc.

As already mentioned, in the past building a snowman was usually performed by children and then made a target of hatred. Were those snowmen also Bogeyman/Witch effigies? It would not surprise me in the slightest that children were taught to fear witches from their Christian parents and those snow witches were a way of them confronting those fears. Perhaps this is why a snowman in often accessorised with a Broom?!


Like I said, it's just a theory, but I for one will never look at a Snowman the same way again.

Edited by Khundekling, 21 February 2019 - 09:35 AM.

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#2 PapaGheny


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Posted 30 March 2019 - 11:16 PM

I find the Böögg tradition your talking about very interesting Khundekling. Thank you for posting about it. Its not one I'm familiar with and I look forward to learning more.


As for your speculations toward the end I'm with you there. Over the past several years I've found folklore and fairy tales from around Russia referring to snowmen or women rather as Baba Yagas. Even describing the coil eyes and teeth, as her iron teeth for eating children and cold dark eyes. Her pale skin, fat body and sticks for spindly arms. Even the carrot(or sometimes turnip or small gourd) as her pointy gnarled nose. The broom has been oddly absent. Maybe just didn't make it to the stories I've found.

I've spent years looking for more trusted sources than stories filtered though other cultures but haven't found it mentioned. I should also say I haven't found a link to western cultures ether it may have been brought to them later or started independently.

Over resent months I spent sometime with an old Russian-Slovak witch that without being ask talked about building snow Baba Yagas as a little girl. Then smashing them with rocks or snowballs for fun. I figure that was good enough for me, but obviously isn't proof. I would point out this may have just been good fun in her day, but I think likely did serve as a reminder or warding connected to the threat of cannibalism in a bad winter. Baba Yaga after all does teach the hard lessons.


To throw my own speculation out there. I find the snow Baba Yaga less mentioned the newer the story. This makes me think it might have been the other way around. That is to say the East Orthodox Church may have tried to drive it out during the transition to Christianity. Sort of the same as their efforts to change the Gods to saints in the old stories. Just a thought. It could have also just faded out with time.


edit for spelling errors

Edited by PapaGheny, 31 March 2019 - 03:53 PM.

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#3 Khundekling


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Posted 01 April 2019 - 10:02 AM

Oh PapaGheny, you've made my day lol I thought this was going to be one of those tumble weed posts with no comments haha


I would love to see what you found on the folklore surrounding the Snow Baba Yagas.


There seems to be some definite similarities between the Snow Baba Yagas and the more European Snowmen. Destroying the snowmen once built doesn't seem to be practiced anymore, quite the opposite. Most children are left sad once their creations have melted. There are also a few old drawings of people dancing around snowmen, but again the documentation is very little. To me it looks like a form of ritual but could quite simply be people having fun in the snow. 

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#4 Solanaceae


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Posted 06 April 2019 - 07:35 AM

This is actually a very good thread topic K.
I wish I had something to contribute but I don't know a thing about it!
Fascinating though and definitely warranting some research.

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Some are born to sweet delight,

Some are born to endless night.


(Fragments from "Auguries of Innocence") William Blake