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A snow angel is a whimsical figure created in fresh snow by lying on one's back and moving one's arms and legs back and forth. The motion of the arms sweeping vertically and the legs parting and closing horizontally leaves an imprint that resembles an angel with wings and a robe. This playful activity is a beloved winter pastime, especially for children, and is often associated with the joy and innocence of snowy days. The simplicity of making a snow angel—requiring no tools or special skills—makes it an accessible and universal form of winter fun.
While the exact origin of the snow angel is not well-documented, it's a tradition that has been captured in photographs and artwork for generations, symbolizing the ephemeral beauty of winter. In fact, the city of Bismarck, North Dakota, holds a record for the most snow angels made simultaneously in one place: 8,962 participants created snow angels on the state Capitol grounds on February 17, 2007, according to Guinness World Records. This record highlights the communal spirit that can be inspired by such a simple, joyful activity, bringing people together to celebrate the season.
A snow angel is a pattern in undisturbed snow which is created when someone lies down in a spreadeagled position and waves his or her arms and legs, creating fan-like shapes which resolve into the shape of an angel when the person stands up. Making snow angels is immensely popular with children in snowy regions in many parts of the world, and a few adults can sometimes be caught in the act as well. Making snow angels can be quite entertaining, and a good way to get active and outdoors in inclement weather.
People have undoubtedly been making forms and shapes in the snow for centuries, as the snow is such an ideal medium for simple artwork. No one knows who made the first snow angel, but making snow angels has become such a universal activity that many people are familiar with the concept, even if they haven't actually made one. It is also possible to make angel shapes in light sand, for people without access to snow.
The obvious danger of a snow angel is that snow is wet and cold, and by making a snow angel, someone could develop a chill which could cause him or her to get sick later. As a result, people are usually encouraged to wear winterized clothing when they make snow angels, such as thick layered pants and jackets with a waterproof outer layer, so that the snow can't soak in. Heavy gloves and a snug cap are also advised, as it is easy to extremities to get cold in the snow.
Some people enjoy making a bunch of snow angels at once with friends, sometimes creating rows of angels which appear to be holding hands. This can be a fun challenge with a large group, as people have to figure out how to make their snow angels and then step out without damaging neighboring angels. As more snow falls or the snow melts, the snow angels will slowly fade away, becoming little more than a memory.
In addition to making snow angels, some people also enjoy making snow men, three dimensional sculptures of snow which are designed to look like people. In both cases, decorations can be affixed to the snow to create additional, and a cup of hot chocolate or cider is often appreciated when the artists come in from the cold, no matter how old they are. If you live in a snowy area, you might enjoy organizing a snow angel party to see how many people you can gather in the snow for fun and games including snow angels, snow ball fights, and snow men.