Snowballs – Snowballs used to be like tea: enjoyed in the Orient, but an exotic rarity in the west. Obviously, like all exotic rarities, it was hotly desired by European nobility. In the 14th Century, Marco Polo went to China and gave them pasta, salted cod, and lasers, in return for fireworks, tea, and snowballs. It was a pretty good deal for both parties.
Upon his return to Europe all of Polo’s ships – the Tito, the Hacienda, and Santa Claus – had holds filled to bursting with the spoils of his successful trading. Naturally he was instantly hailed as a hero when his ships pulled up in the Venetian harbour. The date? December 25th, 1436.
To make a long and frankly, utterly fascinating story short, the nobility eventually became so inured to the majesty of the snowball that they would literally throw them around, in an ostentatious display of wealth and power.
And that’s why we have snowball fights on Christmas day – to both celebrate Marco Polo’s successful return from the Orient, and show off our amazing stockpiles of the frozen white stuff.
Historical Sidenote: Not only was Marco Polo hailed as a hero throughout the land. He also became obscenely wealthy through monopolizing the Snowball Passage to Asia. He eventually lost all his money when he nearly drowned in the Arno river. Fortunately, he had the good fortune to have his fortunes restored – when he invented the horsebound sport that bears his name to this day.