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Snowballs and Mini Ice Makers, a Cultural Tradition
Snowball fights are one of those seasonal delights that not everyone gets to enjoy. They take a special mix of weather, clothing and communal preparedness to truly encapsulate that childhood experience that etches itself into one's memory. Carefully crafting and collecting a small cache of snowballs, preparing for the impending onslaught in a freshly built fort; it's a unique experience, only possible for a few weeks or even days out of the year. For some, the closest they will get to anything frozen may come from mini ice makers or the freezer.
On those special snow days where school is unexpectedly out, children have the special privilege to play in the great outdoors and enjoy what nature has to offer. Fights can be planned or spontaneous where organized events are put together through establishments like colleges or clubs, but more commonly are using social media to find locals in search of clean fun.
What may be surprising to learn is that snowball fights are not limited to one nation or time. They have been a part of human history for hundreds of years dating back at least 7 centuries. They are prominent throughout many regions with significant snowfall and are ingrained in their cultures. Aside from annual events and the occasional world-record attempt, spontaneous fights have erupted where some even bear a historical importance.
In the Past
Well documented, but poorly advertised, snowballs were also part of the Boston Massacre . Believe it.
The Boston Massacre is widely agreed to be one of the first steps towards the American Revolutionary War.
The Bostonian Colonists were already at odds with the British Empire. A relationship of bitterness and displeasure existed because citizens found the policies the British Parliament was attempting to enforce unpopular and against their constitutional rights as British subje3cts. The British Army was dispatched in order to maintain a presence in the area and uphold the authority and policies of the Crown.
According to records, on the evening of March 5th, 1770 a confrontation over a debt between John Goldfinch, a Captain-Lieutenant of the British army, and Edward Garrick, a wig-maker's apprentice, broke out at the foot of the Boston Custom House. Several passersby began to collect, insulting and taunting Goldfinch. Hugh White, a nearby Private who was standing guard, left his post asserting that the onlookers should be more respectful. More insults were exchanged and escalated to the point that White struck Garrick in the head with the butt of his musket. More townsfolk amassed around the two soldiers and a challenge was issued that if White were to fire his gun, he would die for it.
The crowd swelled to over three hundred people and nine more British officers were called in to defend each other and attempt to maintain peace. The gathering tried to instigate a gunfight by throwing, among other things, snowballs at the officers. The ranking officer asserted that his men would not fire unless ordered to do so.
A Private was struck and knocked down by a projectile and uncorroborated reports were that he shouted, "Fire!" discharging his gun into the congregation. After a brief pause, all nine soldiers began to fire into the crowd in an uncoordinated fashion killing or wounding eleven or so townsfolk. The acting governor arrived on the scene and was eventually able to restore a small measure of order after promising an inquiry would be conducted.
By the next morning, eight soldiers were arrested and a few short weeks later convicted of murder. In the intervening time, British troops were removed to nearby Castle Island leaving Boston largely unpoliced. Hostilities and animosity towards the British presence continued into the future, setting the stage for later events like the Boston Tea Party.
The Great Snowball Fight of 1863
A prolonged snowball fight slowly unfurled during January 29th, 1863. Ultimately involving an estimated 9,000 veterans from three different brigades in Texas. After heavy snowfall the night before, a fracas erupted between the First, Fourth and Fifth Texas brigades and quickly turned into an intra-Army engagement. After unifying forces, the Texas forces turned on a nearby camp of the Third Arkansas Brigade. Caught unaware, the Arkansans surrendered and joined forces, targeting another company from Georgia almost a mile away.
1,500 men, dressed for battle with flags waving and bugles blaring, marched towards their victims. Hearing the impending attack, the Georgians had time to prepare drawing the fight out for over an hour. Even though the Georgians were able to rebuff the opposing force thanks to high ground and a larger force, the Texans and Arkansans were able to rally and overtake the defenders.
After battle was decided, a combined force of an estimated 9,000 men moved against the Army of Northern Virginia creating an all-out snowball war. With thousands of missiles, trading sides and flying through the air, the Texans won the day after an hours-long conflict.
While we don't advocate using something like mini ice makers to create snowballs for those who don't live in areas that receive no snow, we are proponents of travel. If you happen to take a trip to the nearest mountain range or get away for the holidays where you can wake up to fresh snowfall, bundle up and trek outdoors to experience nature's majesty.