There are very few times when a kid can throw a projectile at one of his friends or adversaries without parental admonishment. And yet, once a sufficient blanket of snow has fallen, the rules change. The potential for war suddenly looms ominously behind thick trees and parked cars and any other place that offers a momentary shield. Attacks come without warning and without mercy. After all, winter is here and that once-peaceful white powder is all that is needed to encourage battle, not to mention create an ample stockpile of munitions. Negotiations are futile, retribution is demanded – this is the season of the snowball fight.
The snowball fight is a time-honored tradition among those who are lucky (or unlucky) enough to live in regions susceptible to icy precipitation. There are few rules, no age limits, and just about any location can serve as fields of war. The object, put quite simply, is to pelt your opponent(s) with reckless abandon, while trying to fend off their attacks. And as any experienced warrior can attest, the most important factor is how well the snow packs into a ball. Too powdery, and the projectiles will break apart mid-flight. Too icy, and the potential for inflicting pain increases exponentially. But when the snow is just that right consistency to shape a perfect baseball-sized sphere, the temptation for war becomes irresistible and inevitable.
In the traditional snowball fight, both sides are given a certain amount of time to build up their munitions, carefully stacking each snowball in formations that resemble a stack of cannonballs. This is the crucial initial supply and it needs to be plentiful. For, once these piles are exhausted, one has to create new snowballs on the fly, and that means taking your attention off of your attacker, and therefore providing a perfect opportunity for a counterstrike. An unwritten rule suggests that one stay away from throwing at an opponent’s unprotected face, but secretly, we all know that this was the most coveted of targets, the one most likely to elicit a high-pitched shriek. Besides, all is fair in love and war.
Snowball fights, for the most part, are all in good fun – one of those cherished childhood rituals that kids living in snow country eagerly anticipate with a sort of sadistic glee. And even the most hardened adult, when faced with a blanket of freshly fallen show, has to fight the primal urge to dig those gloves into the snow and see how well it packs. Not that they would ever throw their creation.
Do you have any particularly memorable battles to share? Were you plummeted mercilessly on the walk home from school and lived to tell the tale? Or was it your younger sibling who was forced to seek shelter at the first signs of icy precipitation? Perhaps you just remember that unmistakable sting when getting struck squarely in the jaw, often with no warning whatsoever? Share your stories in our comments section as we pay tribute to this timeless winter tradition.