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'Let's build a snowman' is the heart-felt invitation to an activity that is popular around the world, wherever there is sufficient snow to pack and stack a few snowballs.
Unhindered by the explicit presence of cold temperatures, in spite of the expected physical exertion involved in rolling snowballs along the frozen ground, and even despite the fact that neither snowmen nor snow-women have a long life expectancy, the exercise is enjoyed by both young and old.
One might wonder at the popularity of building snowmen, despite the certainty of impending disaster. Are these happy builders in denial over the fact that a single day of sunshine can melt their work away? Would they not be better advised to spend their time on some activity that is more useful and lasting?
The simple answer is: it’s magic. Snow falls at around the darkest time of year and makes the gloom feel less oppressive. Touching the elements, feeling the frozen water with our fingers, assessing its weight and substance, breathing in the cold, clean air - these are the invigorating, sensory experiences which bring us in touch with ourselves and the natural world. And in building together, we strengthen our social bonds.
More often than not, the real benefit of an activity lies not in the visible product, but in the affect that the activity has on us as human beings. Building a snowman requires resourcefulness, from setting up a team and allocating functions to the strategic sourcing of snow, from processing and sculpting it, right up to its final decoration. Decisions that are not only economic, but also aesthetic and cultural.
Snowmen, just like their builders, come in all shapes and sizes. Did you know that North Americans and Germans build snowmen consisting of three balls, whereas the British build their snowmen consisting of only two? And would you have guessed that the Japanese follow the British model in building their Yukidaruma, despite having been heavily influenced by American culture?
In short, the snowman is a reflection of human imagination, creativity, communication and playfulness. It is a reminder of how the benefit of some of mankind’s most vital exercises is perhaps less measurable in terms of hard facts and figures than in the eye-opening experiences we gain from interacting with others and with ourselves.
Let’s stay curious, let’s keep fit.
Your cXc | crossXculture Team
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!