A snowman is an anthropomorphic snow sculpture.
They are customarily built by children as part of a family project in celebration of winter.
In many places, typical snowmen consist of three large snowballs of different sizes with some additional accoutrements for facial and other features.
Common accessories include branches for arms and a rudimentary smiley face, with a carrot standing in for a nose. Human clothing, such as a hat or scarf, may be included.
There are variations to standard forms; for instance, the popular song “Frosty the Snowman” describes a snowman being decorated with a corncob pipe, button nose, coal eyes and an old silk hat (usually depicted as a top hat). These other types range from snow columns to elaborate snow sculptures similar to ice sculptures.
Every year, around time of winter’s arrival in the northern hemisphere, “build a snowman” peaks on Google Trends.
There are more than 90,000 YouTube videos to teach you how; someone even patented instructions on the process.
If you look at the 8,011,991th United States Patent, you will see the “Apparatus for Facilitating the Construction of a Snow Man/Woman,” granted to inventor Ignacio Marc Asperas of Melville, NY. The patent was filed on Jan. 31, 2006 and was granted on Sept. 6, 2011.
Snow becomes suitable for packing when it approaches its melting point and becomes moist and compact. This allows for the construction of a large snowball by simply rolling it, until it grows to the desired size.
Making a snowman of powdered snow is difficult since it will not stick to itself, and if the temperature of packing snow drops, it will form an unusable denser form of powdered snow called crust.
A good time to build a snowman may be the next warm afternoon directly following a snowfall with a sufficient amount of snow.
Playing with snow can keep you trim. According to The History of the Snowman, laboring for an hour to build a snowman burns approximately 238 calories. That’s more than dancing and not far from what you’d burn going for a bike ride.
Humans have been making sculptures out of snow for thousands of years, but despite our primal instincts, we’re clearly still struggling to perfect them. “It’s a special activity that’s very old. If you’re making a snowman you’re probably participating in one of the first forms of folk-art known to man and maybe one of the very few activities we share with our ancestors,” says Bob Eckstein, author of The History of the Snowman.
Bob Eckstein documented snowmen from medieval times, by researching artistic depictions in European museums, art galleries, and libraries. The earliest documentation he found was a marginal illustration from a work titled Book of Hours from 1380 , found in Koninklijke Bibliotheek, in The Hague.
In early 1494, Michelangelo Buonarroti was an up-and-coming young artist under the patronage of Piero de’ Medici. That winter had been an unseasonably cold one in Florence. Then in January something wholly unexpected happened. A snowstorm descended that left the city covered in deep drifts. Evidently not one to waste an opportunity, Piero de’ Medici sent his young artist out into the snow-covered courtyard with instructions to make him a snowman. It’s a task Michelangelo apparently took to heart. According to the 15th-century art historian Giorgio Vasari, the snowman Michelangelo made wasn’t just any snowman. It was possibly the greatest snow sculpture in the history of the world.
The earliest known photograph of a snowman was taken in 1853 by Welsh photographer Mary Dillwyn. Ms Dillwyn took the photograph as part of her love of capturing both nature and portraits. It is now held in the National Library of Wales and uncovered by historian Iestyn Hughes as he research centuries of extreme weather. Mr Hughes said: “It is a remarkable image and believed to be the first time a snowman was captured on film.”
Snowmen became popular subjects for illustrated print material at the turn of the century, decorating postcards, greeting cards, and magazine covers. Because they could presumably be depicted as stumbling drunks while maintaining an aura of charm, alcohol peddlers frequently used snowmen in print advertisements. After Prohibition ended in 1933, snow-lushes could be seen in ads for Miller, Schlitz, and Jack Daniel’s.
Residents of Bethel, Maine, USA, and surrounding towns, built the world’s tallest snowman, which is actually a snowwoman measuring 37.21 meters (122 ft 1 in) tall, over a period of one month, completing her on 26 February 2008. She was only a few feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty.
Measuring only 10 micrometres (0.01 millimeter or 0.0004 inch) across, the world’s smallest snowman was created by scientists at the National Physical Laboratory, UK. It was made from two small balls normally used for calibrating electron microscopes. An ion beam was then used to etch eyes, nose and even a smile on the little sculpture.
The world record for most snowmen made at one time was 12,379 snowmen in 2003 in Sapporo, Japan. At the time the town had more snowmen than humans. Each snowman had a real candle planted it’s in their tummies.
The most snowmen built in one hour is 2,036 and was achieved by Drama 24 Unhandy Handyman (Japan) at Zuriyama Observation Field, in Akabira, Hokkaido, Japan, on 28 February 2015. 1,406 people participated. The attempt took place during the filming of a TV drama and actors as well as local citizens participated in the attempt.
The largest collection of snowmen belongs to Karen Schmidt (USA) and consists of 5,127 items as of 19 March 2013, in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, USA.
Zurich, Switzerland celebrates spring‘s arrival with the Burning of the Böögg, a giant snowman effigy whose head is filled with fireworks. Every single year since 1818, the city celebrates the start of spring by blowing up the Böögg – and the holiday is known as Sechseläuten.
Lake Superior State University burns a massive, paper snowman at high noon on the first day of Spring. Student Government barbecue hot dogs and serve them to the students and guests as part of the celebration. The first spring snowman burning was held in March 1971 by the Unicorn Hunters, a former campus club. Traditionally it has been held on the first day of spring to bid good-bye to winter and welcome spring.
“Frosty the Snowman” is a popular Christmas song written by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson, and first recorded by Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys in 1950.
Frosty the Snowman is a 1969 animated Christmas television special based on the song “Frosty the Snowman”.
The Snowman, British picture book (1978) by Raymond Briggs and animation (1982) directed by Dianne Jackson about a boy who builds a snowman that comes alive and takes him to the North Pole.
The 2013 film Frozen features a living snowman named Olaf who longs to see summer. The film score includes as song about building a snowman, titled “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”