Like Sechselaeuten (which literally means “Six-Ringing”), Knabenschiessen is another appropriately named Zurich holiday. You take Knabe, the Swiss word for “boy”, add it to schiessen, the German word for “to shoot”, and then you have Knabenschiessen, which translates to Boys’ Shooting Day.
On a side note— be careful to say schiessen instead of scheissen. Like in my essay Lessons in Profanity, it is key to use the correct vowel. On occasion, Niko has referred to the holiday as Knabenscheissen which would change the word’s meaning to Boys’ Shitting Day.
Knabenschiessen takes place every year over the second weekend in September. So what happens on Boys’ Shooting Day? A sharp shooting competition for 12-16 year old kids who reside in the canton of Zurich. That’s right, I said kids. Despite the sexist name, girls have been allowed in the competition since 1991. (Ok, the lateness of that date doesn’t speak much for the equal state of the sexes in Zurich, but that is a tangent better left for another post.) The young marskmen/women use the same rifles as the ones issued by the Swiss army, and the best marksman/woman is called the Schutzenkoenig or koenigin. Meanwhile, as all this shooting is going on near Albisguetli, the whole area is turned into a fair complete with rides, junk food and lots of beer.
After frequent visits to the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show (aka the New Jersey State Fair), it felt very strange to be in a fair but still be within Zurich’s city limits. That said, I can’t imagine a city-sponsored shooting festival ever taking place in Newark, so maybe it’s best to forget the funnel cake and just bring on the knoblibrot.