Named Examples: Frosty, Jack Frost, Olaf, Marshmallow
Commonly Featured In: Stories, Songs, & Film
One cannot argue that snowmen are a common staple of the winter season. While not a frequent sight in my neighborhood, particularly with the recent heat wave, it’s a rare wintry day that I don’t spot at least one standing vigilantly against wind and sun. The idea of living snowmen however is one that is both common and rare in the sense of just how the snowman is alive and what they do with that life.
The oldest story to feature a living snowman, at least one popularized enough to be relatively well known was one that was written by Hans Christian Anderson. The same Hans Christian Anderson whose stories have become incredibly popular Disney hits though they are nothing like their source material. Having recently read the story, “The Snowman” and other works by the man, I can see why.
While a few of Hans Christian Anderson’s stories ended happily, such as “The Ugly Duckling” or “Thumbelina,” most of them end with a sharp jab in the heart and “The Snowman” is one of them. Likely the source of inspiration for Olaf, the Snowman in this particular story is all of a day old when he happens to see the stove inside the home he’s been built in front of and immediately falls in love with it.
Most of the story tells of the Snowman’s affections for the stove, of how something inside him is moved by the sight of it, and the heartbreak he feels when the window between them is covered in frost. It isn’t until when the Snowman melts that we discover the source of his affection did indeed lie in his heart, a poker from the stove that lay within his breast.
Not as depressing as how “The Little Mermaid” ended but dang if it’s not close.
In more recent years, and by recent I mean sometime in the year 1950, the song “Frosty the Snowman” became an instant sensation to match that of another Christmas song created the year prior. Most already know the story as it is told through the song, of how the snowman Frosty is brought to life by the magic of a certain silk hat but there’s one slightly humorous aspect that failed to make it to the animated special. In the song, Frosty runs afoul of a traffic cop and that’s why he flees town and not because of the approaching springtime.
Though not the first living snowman, Frosty at least holds the title of snowy fugitive.
In all seriousness though, Frosty is easily the one snowman, alive or otherwise, that holds a firm place during the winter holidays. I’ve yet to see a December, or even a July, that didn’t feature a least a dozen showings of Frosty’s original special and those that followed from Rankin/Bass productions.
However, Frosty is not the only living snowman to make it to film. The snowmen known as Jack Frost, they were both a pair of normal, ordinary humans whom, upon death, became living snowmen. The difference between them though is that one was a loving father trying to get home to his family amidst a blizzard on Christmas and the other…
… A serial killer being shipped out for his execution that got caught in a car accident involving some mutable materials that turned him into a living pile of snow…
Yeah… Make a note gentlemen and ladies, the 90’s was a weird time for films.
… Then again, considering this decade has films like Sharknado… but I digress.
More recently, the concept of a living snowman was popularized to ridiculous heights in Disney’s Frozen wherein the character Elsa inadvertently creates a living snowman based on the one from her childhood named Olaf. This particular specimen, much like the Hans Christian Anderson version, longs for the heat of a summer sun and a surprisingly large amount of debates have arisen over him and his “little brother” Marshmallow, the second snowman that Elsa creates though with actual purpose.
I would offer my own thoughts into that debate but that’s a ream of paper onto itself already so I’ll simply wrap up this review on my thoughts as to whether more snowmen than Frosty deserve a time to shine during the winter holiday season.
Frankly… much as it pains me to say it, I honestly don’t think such a thing could be done. Though his original song says otherwise, Frosty has a firm place during the winter holidays with his promise to return and his departure to the North Pole during the summer season. While a fair number of living snowmen exist, few of them are integrally connected to the winter holidays and most of their stories are either too tragic to share. Heck, most of them don’t even have names beyond “The Snowman” and that makes it even more difficult to try and identify with them and their respected stories.
Still, with the continually rising popularity of Disney’s Frozen, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Olaf were to find a new obsession with Christmas.