Snow, Ice and Christmas often go together, although why it should is a bit strange! There is no snow or ice in the Christmas story told in the Bible. However, snow does fall in Israel. Bethlehem and Jerusalem are on a range of hills that go north to south between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan valley. The top of these hills are about 1600 ft (500 m) high. The hills often have very cold weather from November to April and snow can often fall. So, although the Bible story may not have snow in it, Jesus may well have seen some snow in his life!
The reason that we think of Snow and Ice at Christmas is portably down to the Victorians! Although Christmas was taken over from the Pagan winter solstice festivals in Europe, it was the Victorians who gave us our ‘traditional’ Christmas in Europe and the USA at the start of the Victorian era, (1837) Britain was in a mini ice age that was from about 1550 to 1850. During this time, in London, a winter fair was held on the frozen River Thames!
One of the main reasons that the Victorians put Snow and Christmas together was the book ‘A Christmas Carol’ written in 1843 by Charles Dickens.
When Charles Dickens was a child, Britain had very heavy snow falls around Christmas, so when he wrote ‘A Christmas Carol’ he put lots of snow and ice in it! He also put snow at Christmas in some of his other books like ‘The Pickwick Papers’. Charles Dicken’s books were very popular (and still are!) so when the Victorians read the books, they thought of snow and Christmas together!
One of the other reasons that Snow and Ice became popular in Victorian times is because Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, came from Germany where it was colder and he was used to lots of snow and ice being around at Christmas. He made Christmas Trees popular in the UK as well as lots of other Christmas traditions. Christmas Cards also started in Victorian times with pictures of snow scenes becoming very popular.
Another connection between snow and Christmas is the Song “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” It was first recorded, in 1942, by Bing Crosby and came from a film called ‘Holiday Inn’, set in the snowy countryside of Vermont, U.S.A in December (there is a 75% chance of it snowing on Christmas Day in Vermont!). Irving Berlin wrote “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” and it only took only 18 minutes to record! The original version sung by Bing Crosby has sold at least 30 million copies. The song has also been recorded by many other people and groups and it has sold over 100 million copies in single versions (by all artists that have done it!). Until 1997, Bing Crosby’s recording of ‘White Christmas’ was the top selling single of all time!
Lots of people nowadays are interested to see if they will have a ‘White Christmas’. For most people, a White Christmas means a complete covering of snow on the ground where they live, with some snow falling on Christmas Day. This year in Minnesota, we are still seeing grass and it’s December 21st!
Snowmen were probably first made by people to scare away evil winter spirits. But now they are just a good excuse to have lots of fun in the snow!
Probably the most famous snowman is ‘Frosty the Snowman’ who appears in a Christmas song of the same name. The song was written in 1950 by Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins. It was recorded in 1953 by the American singer Perry Como and became very popular. A film called Frosty the Snowman was made in 1969 and told the story of a magical snowman who came to life and became best friends with a little girl.
In the UK there is a famous animated film called The Snowman (made in 1982) about a snowman who comes to life and takes a little boy flying of to see Father Christmas. We used to watch it every year when I was in Primary (Elementary) School on the last school day before the Christmas holidays! The cartoon has a song in it called “We’re Walking in the Air”. It was made famous when it was released as a single in 1985 and sung by a choir boy called Aled Jones. Aled is now an adult and a popular television and radio presenter in the UK! (In the original animation, the song was sung by a choir boy called Peter Auty.)
Snow & Ice Carvings
There are many Snow and Ice carving festivals held all over the world. In these festivals artists and people who just like snow and ice, build large snow and ice sculptures. Because you need lots of Ice and Snow to have a festival they are normally held in colder countries, like the Scandinavian countries, the northern states in the USA, Canada and some parts of Japan. Some places import Snow and Ice so they can have a festival!
There is a large Ice carving festival held every year here in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where it is very cold during winter and lots of snow falls and Ice freezes. We have a gone and seen these sculptures and they are very impressive.
Some Snow and Ice Records
*The largest snowman in the world was made in Bethel, Maine, USA, in 2008. It was a snow woman called Olympia Snowe, named after a U.S. Senator representing Maine. Olympia Snowe was 122 ft 1 inch (37.21 m) tall. The previous record snowman also being to Bethel, Maine and was Angus the snowman who was 113 ft, 7.5in (35.5m) high
*The most amount of snow to fall in 12 months was at a ski resort called Paradise on Mt Rainier, Washington state, USA. It fell between February 19th 1971 and February 18th 1972 and was a total of 1224 inches! That’s 94ft (28.5m)! Perhaps it should be called Mt Snowier!