Many of us are experiencing winter right now and snow around the world is top of mind! For example, we might think about how pretty it looks falling outside the window. Or, maybe we are wondering how to get it off the driveways and roads in time for the morning commute. Perhaps, we are planning a skiing or snowboarding getaway. Regardless, one thing is certain: snow plays a unique role in the history and lifestyle of each culture it touches.
While snow may fall in many places, countries experience it in different ways. As a result, there is a rich vocabulary surrounding snow around the world that varies from culture to culture. For example, have you ever wanted to describe snow that can be easily shaped into snowballs? With the word kramsnö, Swedish has you covered. What about snow on the ground? In Inuit, you just have to say aputi.
Our language around the cold weather is also surprisingly emotional. In literature, snow is commonly depicted as harsh and dangerous. Yet, terms of endearment like “little snowflake” engender warmth and affection. The idea of ice and cold often translates to emotional distance or uncertainty, resulting in expressions like “ice queen” or “cold feet” respectively. However, the cold can be inviting too, especially when referring to refreshments like a “cold drink” on a hot summer day. In the end, it’s all about perspective and yes, #culturematters.
While snow around the world can be inconvenient, many countries actually embrace winter! For example, in Denmark and Finland people put babies outside to nap in the cold with the belief that it strengthens family well-being. Canadians enjoy snow by using skating (Canadians don’t call it “ice-skating” 😉) as a form of transport (check out the Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa) and gathering around bonfires for fondue.
Check out the infographic below to learn some fun snow vocabulary, find out which language has the most words for snow, and get some ideas for winter activities!