Snape Hunting

This folklore comes from my informant’s kindergarten campout. At night while all of the kids are about to go to sleep, they must go run around and try to catch the imaginary “snapes”. These creatures only come out at night and try to trick you and get you in your tents and you must capture them first. You can spot these creatures in the shadow of the night from their distinguished red eye that comes and goes at will. In reality the eye is nothing more than the red pen light of one of the teachers. Nonetheless, the students were none the wiser and continued after imaginary shadows in the dark. 

The tradition of hunting for snapes serves as a communal activity that strengthens bonds amongst the kindergartners. Engaging in a nightly group endeavor creates a sense of unity and camaraderie among the children. The shared goal of capturing these imaginary creatures requires cooperation and communication, essential components in building a strong community spirit. This activity also allows them to engage in a form of play that blurs the lines between reality and imagination, further enhancing the group’s cohesion through shared experiences. The act of searching for snapes, particularly in the context of the nighttime setting, can symbolize the children’s confrontation with and overcoming of fears. Nighttime often represents the unknown, a time when fears and anxieties can be heightened in members of all ages. By actively participating in an imaginative game that takes place in this context, the kindergartners can confront their fears in a controlled and safe environment. The hunt for snapes, with the creatures represented only by fleeting red lights (the teachers’ pen lights), allows children to face the abstract concept of fear through a tangible action. This symbolic conquering of fears can be empowering for children, giving them a sense of bravery and accomplishment.