But many adults who never experienced snow days as children love them too. A snowstorm in a particular location grinds Twitter and Instagram to a halt in a way that few global political catastrophes even manage. Instead of learning that it’s snowed overnight by looking out my window at a newly white world, I now get the news by scrolling past one ecstatic tweet after another. Twitter loves snow; snow is all-caps, multiple-exclamation-points weather. Instagram, of course, loves snow, so photogenic and yet impossible to truly capture, and the sense that comes with it of an event, of really being somewhere with something happening. On a snow day, there are certainly some people complaining about the snow, but there are always more, or at least louder, people rhapsodizing about it.
It’s possible that the only magic snow actually brings is getting people out of work. Josh Ong, who works in marketing in New York City, describes snow days as “the time equivalent of playing with house money.” Snow days are a special kind of day off—an unexpected gift that can’t be planned for, only appreciated when it’s given. “What makes it truly special is that it’s as if nature has just given you permission,” says Brigid Schulte, the author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time. “You can’t run around doing errands. You can’t get to work or school. It’s the time that’s the gift, not the snow.” Being “forced” to take time off, even for just a day or a few hours, is a mercy akin to finding out that school has been canceled. A snow day can be a temporary release from the obligation to perform how hard we are working. “In our work-focused culture, we can feel so guilty about not being productive,” Schulte says. “Even our leisure tends to be productive—running errands, running to classes and events, running to get in a quick workout. So to have a day when even the gym is closed, where we can’t help but be ‘unproductive,’ is like getting a taste of what true leisure time ought to be like.”
Read: What captivates children about The Snowy Day?
Of course, for many non-salaried workers, missing work also means not making money. To them, snow days are typically not a gift but a burden, far more stressful than relieving. A snow day can also be a nightmare for parents who have to unexpectedly find child care, for disabled people facing a slippery commute, and for people who simply hate snow and the complications it brings. The “magic” so many people refer to is certainly not a universal experience of this weather. Snow is objectively inconvenient, and far worse than inconvenient for many.
Nevertheless, lots of people for whom snow just means trudging to work through the snow still love it. Suzan Eraslan, a real-estate broker in New York City, describes one such experience: “At work, I’m often outside showing apartments. Sometimes clients will cancel if it’s snowing, but since moving in New York is such a time-sensitive activity, there are a lot of times when I’ve been walking around with someone I’ve just met in the snow, and it’s often a bonding experience. It’s kind of magical to be one of the few people out on the streets when it’s snowing. It makes me feel like I’m on some kind of adventurous journey.”