The History of the Snowman

snowmanDo you want to build a snowman? Many of you have had the opportunity to build a snowman when you were children. Your relatives, who taught you how to build one, learned it when they were kids. It turns out that the snowman has a longer history than you might have realized.

You may have spent time building snowmen during the winters when you were a child. It isn’t incredibly difficult to do. However, it does require some skill. The best time to build a snowman is when there is plenty of moist snow on the ground. Ideal snow is “sticky”, meaning that it adheres together into the form that a person pushes it into.

Not everyone builds a snowman the same way. People in the United States and Europe tend to build a snowman that consists of three balls of snow stacked vertically on top of each other. In other parts of the world, only two balls of snow are required. Some people add decorations to their snowman to make its face or to give it something to wear.

The popular song Frosty the Snowman was written in 1950 by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson. It describes Frosty as having “a corn cob pipe, and a button nose, and two eyes made out of coal”. It is also common for people to give their snowman a nose that is made out of a carrot.

Author Bob Eckstein is the author of a the book The History of the Snowman. In the book, he says that the first documentation of a snowman that he found was in 1380 in an illuminated manuscript. He also notes building a snowman was a popular form of entertainment in the Middle Ages.

This winter, take the time to dig through your old family photos. See if you can find some that show your ancestors building snowmen. Write about your memories from childhood that involved building a snowman. What year was it? Did you build a snowman after a blizzard had hit your area? What did you use to decorate the snowman with?

Genealogists who have a family history blog can use the snowman as a “spark” that gives them something to write about. Share your photos and stories with your family members. Ask them to leave comments with their own snowman stories.

Want to give your children, or grandchildren, an instant connection to family history? Teach them how to build a snowman. It is an activity that generations of children have enjoyed. Share the stories of older relatives who also built snowmen when they were little kids.

Image by William Warby on Flickr.

Related Articles:

* The History of Dominoes

* Games Your Ancestors Played as Children

* The History of Dice Games

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