Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Anyone go to Knabenschiessen?

So yesterday was a (half-day) public holiday in Zurich called Knabenschiessen. Literally, the name means 'boys shooting' and as the German wikipedia says, "the holiday goes back to 1889 when over 5000 boys between the ages of 13 and 17 competed in a shooting contest in which the prize was a place on the King's security squad, with the title of Schützenkönig" or Protector of the king. Since 1991, girls can also compete (yes!). And I love that wiki goes on to say that "the entry fee to compete is CHF 16 and includes amunition... and a bratwurst." What are you waiting for boys and girls - go claim your prize and get your free sausage!

I told my co-worker that I was really excited to go and check out the event. I asked if he ever went and he said, "Nope" or at least the German equivalent, "Neiiiin." I told him that this was the opportunity of a lifetime." I really dragged it out... I told him, "I am so excited to participate in a holiday that is all about boys (and girls!) shooting at things." And after I laughed and he chuckled, he looked at me quite seriously and said:
"But why? In America, don't all the boys have guns there and they shoot each other every day?"

"Touché, my friend,Touché." I said... then I chuckled and changed the subject... fast.
Because let's just say, I am SO NOT FUNNY and I am not even touching that topic. After living through Columbine as an exchange student in Germany, I am done with trying to explain American brutality and the right to bear arms. Done. There is no point... because it makes absolutely no sense.

But back to the Swiss, you got to hand it to them for having some of the most unique (half day -that in itself is unique... don't give them a whole day - GOD NO! just half, just half) holidays. In the Spring you can watch them set a snowman effigy alight as they celebrate the end of Winter, and right as the weather changes again, they all take to the streets to celebrate a century old tradition (that happens to include shooting) and eat a wurst. Gotta love this country.

Unfortunately, just as I was about to head out to check out Knabenschiessen action, my brain kicked in and I checked the schedule for the day's events, only to find out it was all done by 3 pm. Darn it! The Chilbi, or fair activities, were still on as they went throughout the three day weekend, but I was not up to it. Next year I am so there though-for the competition, the rides, the wurst, you name it. I might even make a "Kiss the boys and make them cry" button and cross out "kiss" and write "Shoot." Well, then again, maybe not. I might just get myself into more trouble...


Bluefish said...

I have a question: are cow bells only from Switzerland or Germany as well? When I was in Munich I saw souvenir stores that sell cow bells. I got a bit confused.

Jessica said...

Yes, I think that cowbells are not just Swiss... they are probably used by all the mountainous cow herders... that would be an interesting map actually - where cowbells are used... interesting. :)

Adrian said...

Oh dear Jessica! You missed the whole thing about "Knabenschiessen".

This actually is not so much about the shooting than about the fairgrounds. It's by far the biggest "Chilbi" event in Zurich. That's why people get that half day off and on a beautiful day let me warn you it is packed.

I'm not even sure if you were admitted into the shooting area to see them. And if be prepared to bring earplugs. It's darn loud.

Jessica said...

Yeah, I kinda figured that out when I went looking for photos and there were only photos of the fair!!! Oh well, I probably did my body good not eating all those delicious carny foods... yumm... and going on all those dangerous but fun rides...


I should have gone. Jace had to work anyway though. Next year, next year. :)


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