Tag Archives: snow

Spoon Under Pillow for Snow

CONTEXT: TL is a fourth year student at USC. He is originally from Connecticut and first heard of this ritual from his classmates in elementary school. He does not believe that it works, and no longer participates in the ritual, but did for a short time as a child.


TL: So back in elementary school the night before a projected snow day, I would always put a spoon under my pillow as a superstition for snow. I also did the wear pajamas inside out too, and I learned this from my classmates who told me about doing that. This was like first or second grade.

Me: Do you still do this now?

TL: No

Me: why not?

TL: Because superstition does not impact whether or not it is a snow day. The weather impacts whether or not it is a snow day. And the judgment of the school board is what determines if it’s a snow day or not. I stopped doing this at probably 8 or 9. It was just any spoon I had in the kitchen.

ANALYSIS: This is a ritual that I have heard of before. It is a piece of children’s folklore ritual with the intent of creating enough snow that it is not possible to make it in to school. This is from a time before virtual school days, and in a region of the U.S. that gets a fair amount of snow per year. Snow days probably appear illogical and a little bit random to young kids who do not follow the weather, but as they grow older and begin to follow weather predictions and understand that how snow days are determined, the mystery disappears and so does the magic quality of the ritual. It is a sign of growing older categorized by the end of the mystery and the end of school.

A Day in my life on Christmas


My informant is a college student who lives in the same apartment complex as me. He is a communications major, 23 years old, and he is from Chicago. I asked him if he had any holiday traditions and mentioned what his family partakes in during Christmas. I was interested to see how similar his traditions are to mine and any other traditions I have heard, so here is what he shared with me:


“Okay so each Christmas my sister and I open our stockings first because when we were babies my mom bought us embroidered stockings with out names on them, then the presents are divided under the tree and everyone opens their gifts in order one person at a time, then we eat around noon, usually honey ham, green bean casserole, potatoes, and wine. Then we watch a Christmas or hallmark movie and then the day is pretty much over. But my sister having two kids has definitely changed things up.”


From the sound of it there are many Christmas traditions that families from all over share. My informant, as mentioned previously is from Chicago, but my family and I from California partake in a similar tradition. I think the main point of Christmas is to make each other happy and share a day with family giving to each other and enjoying the month leading up to this time. Christmas is the biggest holiday celebrated in the sense that stores will have sections dedicated to this time, and music will be played there are tree lighting festivals and little light shows you can go to to see the decorated houses and lights. Although there is a lot of history surrounding Christmas, the traditions that I have heard and the ones my family practices are not far from normal. These are all classic examples of holiday traditions that are practiced all around the world, even in different cultures. This kind of folklore can be seen in movies, shared from previous generations, and even researched in history books or music.

After further research, it could be examined that people would decorate trees in their homes with lights and colorful toys as far back as the 1500s. This goes to show that because these traditions have been documented and passed from different cultures and generations it still lives on and might even slightly change.

Belief: Flush Ice for Snow Day


“Whenever it would snow back when I was in school, everyone in the class would be like ‘Okay, guys. We have to flush ice cubes down the toilet so that we get a snow day.” They laughed. “It had to be snowing already. And if the next day came and we didn’t get a snow day, everyone would go around asking each other ‘Did you do it?’ And if someone didn’t, they’d be like ‘You!’,” they spoke the final word in an accusatory tone. “‘It’s your fault!'”


“It was just like, to me, a fun sort of get-together thing for us all to do. I also liked it because it was especially like ‘Yea! I have so much power. I’m gonna summon a snow day.’ I did it every time it snowed.”

“I heard it both from other kids in my school and also my parents. I think specifically from my mom. My dad didn’t know what it was. My dad didn’t grow up in Colorado, but my mom did.”

“I sort of always knew it was fraudulent. It wasn’t going to work. But to me, and to all the other kids at school, it was kind of just like a nice ‘taking the opportunity to control something and you can’t normally control.'”


Relegated to locations that snow and have school days cancelled in the presence of large amounts of it, young children are likely to wish that they can have a valid way to skip school using this extreme weather. With the connection between ice cubes and snow, there’s something akin to rebirth in the way that the ice cubes are flushed for the purpose of being “recycled” into snow. Still, this is overall a fun community event that brings children together in their efforts, which may be reason for parents and teachers encouraging the behavior.

Snow day wishes

Date: April 15, 2022 

Source and Relationship: Gavin, younger brother

Type: Tradition, Practice, Folklore

Folklore/Text: Snow Day Wishes: “During the winter in Portland it is really fun when it snows because there is no school and I can sled all day with my friends. When I really want a snow day to happen, my Kindergarten teacher taught me to sleep with a spoon under my pillow, my pajamas on backwards, and to perform a Snow Dance to the sky before going to sleep. It worked about half the time, which is good enough for me.”

Explanation/Context: Snow days were a huge deal in my childhood because they only happened every couple of years and there was a huge hill near my house that all of the neighborhood kids would slide down when there was no school. The silly little practices that we were all convinced were the perfect equation to conjuring up a snow day are actually products of folk tales and Native American rituals from years past – Native peoples have a profound relationship with nature, so special dances, songs, and ordered actions are certainly believed to be closely related with the outcome of weather and yielding crops. The Snow Dance is a real ritual that continues to be practiced today, especially in the Paiute, Shoshone, and Washoe tribes in Utah who experience harsh winters each year. 

Throwing Ice Cubes

What is being performed?
JJ: You never got to be around snow growing up so you wouldn’t know this but when I was in
elementary school, we all thought we could make it snow.
AA: How did you make it snow?
JJ: My first grade teacher, uh, I think it was first grade. Whatever. She told me that if you throw
ice outside your window at night then the next day it would snow.
AA: Wow. Has that ever worked?
JJ: Yes, actually. Everytime. But I think it was because whenever my teacher would tell us to do
that, there was already snow predicted on the weather forecast.

Why do they know or like this piece? where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to
AA: What did that tradition mean to you growing up?
JJ: I mean now it’s just silly but when I was a kid I felt powerful. You know? Like I could control
the weather even though I was just throwing ice cubes out a window.
AA: Did you hear it from anyone other than your teacher?
JJ: The other kids at school believed it. I think my brother also told it to me growing up too.
Context of the performance- where do you perform it? History?
This is usually performed during winter in places where it snows. My informant is from
Newburyport, Massachusetts and claims that it was a big deal there. I am from Los Angeles and
have never heard of this so it must be performed in places where it snows in America to small

I really like this folk belief and find it funny. I could see little kids throwing ice outside of their
windows hoping for snow. I had never heard of this before but my roommate from Boston has
and remembers throwing ice outside of her window.