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Countless students participate in 'Snow Day' ritual

Kevin Collier • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:56 AM

Pajamas were worn inside-out and backward, ice cubes were flushed down toilets, and spoons were placed under bed pillows. Why? To conjure up a snow day, so students could see their school closed and have the day off.

The trail of Facebook threads between area classmates encouraging the ritual began the day before.

A snow day did occur and schools were closed on Dec. 9.    

Word spread of the success, and more area youths joined in that night — wearing their pajamas backward, flushing ice cubes down the toilet, and placing a spoon under their pillow.   

Students awoke to another snow day, as schools were closed again Dec. 10.   

Word spread once again between area students via Facebook, texting and e-mails, and more kids participated in the “Snow Day Superstition” before bedtime Dec. 10. Apparently, the snow gods did not listen this time, and schools were reopened Dec. 11.   

The Dec. 9 edition of the Grand Rapids Press published an article about the "Snow Day Superstition," and interviewed several youths who live in Ottawa County and participated in the ritual.    

“It only works if you do it really well,” Jillian Parker, 10, a fifth-grader at West Ottawa’s Waukazoo Elementary School told a reporter.

Parker estimated she’s among “hundreds of students” who usually spend the night before a storm perfecting the art of snow-day conspiracy.

“It really worked this time. I think I got it now,” she said.

Agreeing in the published article was Jenna Maas, 9, a fourth-grader at West Ottawa’s Lakewood Elementary School. She, along along with her three brothers, put ice cubes in each of her home’s toilets and placed spoons under their pillows.

“Last night was the first night I figured out all of the tricks,” Jenna told the reporter.

The three most commonly practiced "Snow Day Superstition" rituals involve wearing your pajamas inside-out and backward, putting a spoon under your pillow, and flushing ice cubes down the toilet.    

The inside-out and backward pajamas is meant to confuse the snow gods in some strange way and prompt them to deliver a blanket of snow for the participants.

Placing a spoon under your pillow is a longstanding superstition that dates back to the days of the Pilgrims. It’s a superstition that still lingers in the Midwest and Eastern states, and many people follow it religiously each winter.

Flushing ice cubes down the toilet is a ritual meant to signify a “cold front” to the snow gods.    

Snow rituals in Michigan don’t just involve kids attempting to get a day off from school.    

Skip Traynor, an avid wintertime hunter and fisherman from Alma, shaves ice cubes and sprinkles them in the trees behind his house to influence the weather. For him, the snow is helpful for tracking animals. He also throws ice cubes into a nearby lake to encourage it to freeze.    

Farther north, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, locals who depend on snow to attract skiers and snowmobilers have the “Heikki Lunta” song and dance, a Finnish-American tradition named for the snow god Hank Snow. Many are certain it works.    

Hopefully, this column won't foster some strange rituals with the children in your home trying to encourage the snow gods to dump piles of the white stuff this winter season.

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