History of the Snowman

The history of the snowman is as shrouded as the ground beneath a fresh covering of snow. No one knows for sure who built the first snowman; the temporary nature of snow means that we have no hard and fast evidence of snowmen who graced winter landscapes long ago. However, there are artistic representations of snowmen dating back to the Middle Ages. It is quite likely that snowmen have been built since even before that time.

Creating Images of Ourselves
People have made images of themselves in various forms for as long as they've had the ability to create art. We have evidence of this in the form of paintings on cave walls and amulets of clay and stone. It is entirely possible that ancient peoples found snow to be a worthy medium as well. According to snowman historian and expert Bob Eckstein, snowman making is one of the oldest folk arts.

Both actual snowmen and the image of snowmen have endured over the ages and across cultures. By the Victorian era, the snowman had become an extremely popular symbol of the holiday season. There are thousands of images remaining from this era in the form of paintings, greeting cards and advertisements. The types of images vary greatly, from dreamy winter scenes featuring rosy-cheeked children building snowmen to comical depictions of anthropomorphic snowmen.

The Modern Snowman
The popularity of the snowman reached a new height in 1950, when Gene Autry recorded his Christmas hit, "Frosty the Snowman." Frosty quickly became a magical holiday icon, whose story was told over and over in the form of books, films and additional recordings of the song that made him famous. Frosty's likeness also appeared on various toys and collectibles, as well. In fact, by the middle of the 20th century, snowman-themed decorations and toys were becoming more plentiful.

Today, the snowman has become an iconic symbol of not only the holiday season, but of the entire winter season. Snowman decorations, ornaments, crafts, dishware, toys and even clothing and jewelry have become more popular than ever. The image of the snowman invokes a feeling of happiness, simplicity and joy…a magical reminder of the simple pleasures of childhood.

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