In 1996, Finns who couldn’t get enough of winter swarmed to the northern town of Kemi for the opening of a sprawling ice castle that featured a theater, a playground, an art gallery, and a chapel. (You could Google ” Kemi SnowCastle 2017″) This SnowCastle was originally built as a present to all the children in the world. That first year, the SnowCastle drew 300,000 visitors. The whole concept really captured the imagination of the world, even though the entire structure melted in April.
Since that first year, the SnowCastle has been rebuilt every year with a different architecture. Over the years it has covered 3-4 acres and has been up to 3 stories tall. This annual rebuilding requires thousands of construction workers and costs millions of dollars. Despite varying architectural configurations, the SnowCastle has always had a chapel, a restaurant, and a hotel. The publicity brochure states “The world’s largest SnowRestaurant seats over 200 guests. The SnowChapel with a mystical atmosphere is a memorable venue for wedding ceremonies. The SnowHotel with unique, beautifully decorated snow rooms offers a true arctic adventure. The castle is open from the end of January until beginning of April.” Every April it melts.
This SnowCastle makes me think of that poem “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley:
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Both the SnowCastle and Ozymandias remind us that all the material things in this world will one day pass away. This is why it is important to remember the words of Jesus and store up our treasure in heaven, not on earth. (Matthew 6:19-24) Not to do this is to build a castle of snow.