Monday, 11 April 2011


When I left my house this morning to go to work I had a brief moment of bewilderment - after glancing at the road ahead of me, I thought it had snowed.

This would not normally be such a surprise in Switzerland, given that it is April. However, after being blessed with glorious sunshine and temperatures of over 20°C for the last couple of weeks, one could forgive the feeling of surprise I felt at the prospect of snow on the ground (especially as I didn't bother to put a coat on when I left the house).

Glad I'm not cleaning this up
The shock didn't last long; after a comedic double-take, I realised that it was not a dusting of snow that lay on the ground, but it was in fact confetti. The annual Carnaval de Bussigny took place this weekend, with marching bands, guggenmuzik, fairground rides, beer, churros, and - most importantly - confetti canons (hence the debris shown in the picture).

These air-powered pumps are designed to spread the carnaval atmosphere to onlookers and innocent bystanders in the streets by showering them with tiny bits of paper cut into little stars, hearts and other assorted shapes.

This is something that is generally enjoyed by everyone, especially young children who delight in being allowed to throw things at other people. The only people who might not enjoy the paper-flinging fun are those who have balconies facing the parade route. In fact, parade day would likely be their least favourite day on the calendar, even surpassing the gloom of "back to work day" after the Christmas holidays.

Time after time the gunners operating the confetti canons took deliberate aim at those watching the parade from the safety of their balconies, causing untold hours of cleaning for those unfortunate souls. I watched as one couple lowered the sunshade over their balcony to attempt to avoid a canon blast, only for the expert confetti marksman to fire a shot of paper-based fun directly into the only gap possible. If confetti canon firing were to be made into an olympic event, the Swiss would be odds-on favourites for the gold medal.

It might seem sadistic to purposely jettison litter onto someone else's property, but it is all done in the spirit of good fun, so that makes it alright.

And it is funny to watch people getting hit with confetti, especially when they aren't expecting it.

If you want to get an idea of what the parade is like, check out the video I made of last year's carnaval on YouTube (confetti canon is shown at 3:03).

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