It means “Snow, snow, beautiful snow!” and my high school Latin teacher, Mrs. Mabe, would write it on the chalkboard the first time it snowed every year. And the first year students would be surprised that you could write something that was more or less correct without declining or conjugating anything, the second year students would smile a little and happily chant those four words as they walked around campus so they could sound smart1 and by third year it was a tradition, as was the story that went with it.
“My Latin teacher would write that every year, as did his,” Mrs. Mabe would tell us. “Sometimes I wonder if back in Rome, and all through the Dark Ages, teachers wrote that on the first day of snow, Which was rare in Rome…” and she would be into her teaching.
Now, thirteen years later, when I can’t even remember the difference between the ablative and the accusative, all my Latin replaced by two years speaking Tagalog, I too say “Nix, nix, pulchra nix!” the first time it snows each year, and wonder if I’m joining a long line of Latin teachers and students in welcoming the winter.
Thank you, Mrs. Mabe.
- why else would we take Latin? [↩]