Last December I looked at the folklore surrounding snow. This week I want to look at the (brief) history of two iconic snowy figures-Jack Frost and Frosty the Snowman.
Frosty the Snowman
Frosty first made his appearance in popular culture in 1950. Gene Autry, the country singer and singer of another classic Christmas song-Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, first recorded the song. Written by Walter Rollins and Steve Nelson, the song was translated into short animation and a children’s book by 1954. (It is claimed that Nelson and Rollins were attempting to cash in on the momentum of Rudolph, and assumed that if a song as naive as Rudolph could be succcesful, then they could write a lucrative piece). A Rankin-Bass animated Christmas special aired in 1969. During the height of Myspace, Frosty had his own page.
Jack Frost and Old Man Winter play a similar role in folk thought-they bring in the weather of winter. They are both associated with the actual weather patterns of winter such as frosts and snow. Jack Frost is generally assumed to be younger than Old Man Winter and the first frosts of late autumn and early winter are credited to him. However, while Frost is seen as being a younger man, he can range in age from adolescence to mid-adulthood. Likewise, his demeanor ranges from account to account. In some cases innocent and playful almost to the point of being naive, he can also be malicious and dangerous. The Jack Frost we are most familiar with now is most likely derived from Norse and Slavic mythology, where he has both the younger and older attributes that the character has now, and is most likely why he is seen to have such a wide range of traits.