We talked about the pagan origins of Santa, which indirectly touches on elves and Rudolph, but what about other wintry characters like Frosty the Snowman and Jack Frost? While neither is as popular as Santa and would still come to mind after both Jesus and Santa, they are icons of the holiday and I think we should talk about them.
Frosty the Snowman
Technically, Frosty the Snowman has nothing to do with Christmas; he has to do with winter, specifically snow. Yet, even as a person who has experienced 80°F Christmases, but has never seen snow on Christmas, Frosty the Snowman seems "Christmas-y" to me. They don't continue to play Frosty the Snowman (the movie) or "Frosty the Snowman" (the song) after Christmas has passed, so I think it’s safe to assume most others also lump Frosty in with the Christmas holiday as opposed to the general winter season.
Who is he, though? Is he ok to plaster on your kid's notebooks, sing about, and watch movies about? Unlike Santa, Frosty doesn't try to be Jesus; there really are no comparisons there, I mean Frosty isn't even human-like. No kid ever thinks Frosty is real, nor do they expect a snowman they build to suddenly come alive (do they?).
Like Rudolph, Frosty's origin story is a song by Gene Autry. Following the hit record, a children's books and movie were made. The combination of these things boosted Frosty's status as a winter icon. Unlike Rudolph, Frosty isn't attached to Santa, but that doesn't mean he isn't a distraction meant to lure God's people into celebrating a pagan holiday. Why not promote Frosty all winter? Many conservative Christians might also lambaste the magic aspect of the story. The Bible does not look too kindly on practicing magic, and God is not attributed as the creator of the snowman (though a believer would still assume He created the snow). I think, however, the most problematic aspect of Frosty the Snowman, is not that he's a "magical" snowman or the question of his creator, but the fact that it seems to be a yet another way for companies to shift attention from Jesus and make money. Whether you understand the true origin of Christmas as pagan, or attempt to keep Jesus as the reason for the season, Frosty is one of those many hooks that pulls you towards the pagan. I think it's possible that God has no qualms with Frosty as a character, but I do think He may see Him as a lure and tempter for His people, thus putting Frosty in the hot box.
Well what about Jack Frost? The first time I heard of Jack Frost was in "The Christmas Song" (Jack Frost nipping at your nose...), and again, though theoretically he should be a winter icon and not a Christmas icon, he too is associated with Christmas. Where I grew up, the winter season (at least the cold of winter) doesn't start until late November to mid-December, and ends sometime in March. So why are these wintry characters stuffed into the first few days of winter and then totally forgotten about? If people can stomach Christmas decorations in stores starting in October, why can't Jack Frost (or Frosty the Snowman) appear from December to February? Instead they culminate with Christmas, and disappear shortly after.
Unlike Frosty, Jack Frost does have ties to paganism. As the personification of winter and a possible double for "Old Man Winter" or "Father Frost," Jack Frost is deeply connected to the winter solstice (and thus the pagan holidays surrounding it). Jack Frost might also be an elf, of course not the same type of elf known for working with Santa—more of a sprite. Likely, Jack Frost is the son of a Norse god of the wind. Luckily, Jack Frost doesn't have his own song to get stuck in your head, though he is a character in Guardians of the Galaxy. Overall, I'd guess God probably dislikes Jack Frost much more than Frosty.
Other Posts in this Series
- Eckstein, Bob. "Way Past Frosty: An Uncensored History of the Snowman". NPR. December 2007
- Tuthill, Samantha-Rae."Winter Tales and Myths: Where Did Old Man Winter, Jack Frost Come From?". Accu Weather. December 2014
- Roy, Alyssa. "The Amazingness of Jack Frost throughout History". Rotoscopers. June 2013