Courtesy Jala Mahmoodi
Kabul resident Jala Mahmoodi 42, celebrates the first snowfall with his children on Monday, Dec. 30, 2013.
KABUL - Afghanistan’s capital got its first snowfall of the winter this week, and along with it came the traditional bout of snowball fights, hijinks and generalized celebration.
The festive atmosphere is rooted in the countryside, where winter's first flurries mark the beginning of a long holiday and signal future prosperity.
Afghans celebrate in various ways, with some preparing special dishes and extended families gathering for story nights. Children and grown men alike have snowball fights.
In Kabul and the north of the country many mark the occasion with "barfi." Close friends will send each other envelopes with snow along with a poem that says the recipient has been "barfied," meaning he will have to throw a party.
The first snow now explodes on social media, with people uploading pictures onto Facebook and then tagging friends and telling them that they had been barfied.
Nesar Ahmad Bahawi, a 29-year-old Taekwondo champion, summed up the mood of the day in a Facebook post:
"Happy snowy day! Kabul can live without gold, but not without snow, so happy winter to all. And you are all 'barfied' so get ready."
It is also a time of introspection.
Sahrafuddin Sahrafyar wrote on his Facebook page: “With the first snow, Kabul has become more glowing and clean. I pray to God that like Kabul today, all the ugliness of war, insecurity and instability is replaced by the brightness and clearness of peace, security and prosperity for all. May all your days be as white and glowing, peace forever…”