The death of an important Canadian white of passage?

There’s snow way Canadian childhood will be the same without snow days.

I’m in elementary school. All day I’ve heard whispers from the adults that tomorrow there might be a huge snowstorm.

My exhilaration is palpable. In class, I dream about traipsing through deep snow and making maple syrup taffy in the backyard, leaving the stresses of the third grade behind for a day.

As I got older, I even heard rumours of a ‘SnowDayPredictor’ that some would refresh frantically and announce the odds to their peers.

Before I go to sleep, I stare out my window, willing the snow to fall in copious amounts, silencing the city with a thick white blanket.

The next morning, I’m too wired with excitement. I wake up early and glance outside. Sure enough, the snow has piled up to at least knee height, and my mom urges me to go back to sleep — school is cancelled. It’s a snow day!

As a born-and-raised Montrealer, snow days are an integral part of my fondest winter memories. There’s nothing like waking up and realizing you have the day off to spend outside, frolicking in fluffy powder and cozying up with a warm hot chocolate when you come back inside (or spending the entire day inside, staying warm!).

But with new possibilities for online school thanks to the pandemic, are my beloved snow days a thing of the past? On the Jan. 16 snow day, 10 Montreal schools opted for Zoom learning instead of giving students the day off to enjoy the winter wonderland.

It’s ridiculous. Blasphemy. Absurdity.

I firmly believe that snow days should remain in practice in spite of the option to hold school online when excessive snow makes travelling to school difficult.

In addition to the pure fun and the creation of core memories that snow days bring, taking a spontaneous day off school does wonders for one’s mental health.

In our often-too-busy lives, snow days offer us the time to relax, recharge, and enjoy our surroundings, without having to feel guilty for missing out on being productive.

“Where I come from, some days it’s like 40 degrees,” said Concordia student Zina Chouaibi. She grew up in Algeria and moved to Montreal at age 11. “We [didn’t] take days off. Even if the sun [was] burning,” she explained, noting that her first snow day here was quite a shock, but very exciting.

Still, Chouaibi sees the benefit in snow days, particularly for younger people. “My sister does a lot of Zooms now. And it’s sad because she [spends] most of the time now inside rather than outside.”

A 2020 study from the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that only 4.8 per cent of children and 0.6 per cent of the youth surveyed were meeting movement behaviour guidelines during COVID-19 restrictions. More than ever, children can use time away from their screens to enjoy the outdoors, making the need for snow days even more apparent.

Taking these much-needed breaks isn’t only necessary for kids and teenagers — these so-called “mental health days” reduce burnout in adults as well.

That being said, even if snow days become obsolete, I’ve been known to create my own. When there’s a decent snowfall in the Laurentians or the Eastern Townships, I suddenly fall ill with mogulitis, a near deadly self-coined disease that can only be cured by playing hooky and driving to the mountains for a day of skiing.

But mogulitis isn’t really about skiing, it’s more about reconnecting with nature, taking time for myself, and appreciating the beauty of Canadian winter (before it turns to brown slush). So even if snow days become a thing of the past, I urge you to fall back on mogulitis — but hopefully it won’t come to that.

 

Archive Picture from Talia Kliot

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