On making my first proper snowman, in Bratislava

Did you know that you can’t make a snowman with just any old snow?

Some of you will laugh out loud at this question, but there will be some, like me a few years ago, who will say: Really?

I grew up in Western Australia; we don’t do snow, ever, and I didn’t see it fall until the age of 25. I then spent a few years in Japan and Europe trying to make good snowmen, but then my lovely Slovak friend Zitka, who lived just across the road from me in Bratislava, explained to me that you need a certain type of fresh snow to be able to roll up one of those cartoon-style, two-big-snowball type of snowmen.

And then we waited for the right snow. That Bratislavan winter would bring quite a bit of snow, but every time we had fresh snow I would either text Zitka to ask or she’d get in first and tell me that this snow wasn’t the right snow. She tried to explain that we needed fresh snow that rolled up and stuck together properly. It was completely new to me that this would only happen on occasion, because given that my main experience of snow was through television, I’d seen plenty of examples of kids playing outside with their mittens and hats and rolling snowballs quickly into giant body parts for snowmen.

My first snowman in Komarno, Slovakia

My first ever snowman in Komarno, Slovakia

I had a fleeting glimpse of the “right snow” in Komarno, down on the Slovak border with Hungary, and I managed to put together a decent rendition of a snowman. Isn’t he cute? But you can see there wasn’t that much snow on the ground and it wasn’t the classic roll-him-up snowman I was craving. I still wanted to make my first proper snowman.

Snow in the forest in Bratislava, Slovakia

Snow in the forest in Bratislava, Slovakia

So we kept waiting. It seemed to go on through most of winter and then suddenly one day Zitka told me that this was the day – this was the right snow. Coat and gloves went on in a dreadful hurry and I raced down the steps of my apartment building to meet Zitka outside. We rolled small snowballs into huge snowballs to create a snowman; we rolled small snowballs into medium-sized ones to throw at each other. And she was right about the “right” snow. It was totally different to any snow I’d had the chance to play with before. (Go on, all you snow-dwellers – I know you want to laugh at me again!)

Snow in Bratislava, SlovakiaWe had so much fun that we even forgot to take photos – all that exists is this terribly blurry photo that someone took of the two of us, snowballs in hand. The rest of that week was a flurry of snowy activity for me, enjoying the best snow I’d seen so far in my life. And ever since, whenever I’m in snow, I’m quick to do the rolling test to see if Zitka would tell that this was the right snow for making a snowman, and I doubt I will ever see snow again without thinking of this day. Ah, the things you learn!


  1. This is very interesting, I always think that making snowman is easy, because just like you said kids in TV does it with ease. I never had the chance to experience it.

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