A pair of snowmen in Portland, Oregon.
Photo by Bella Senatori

Banned by the Taliban, infiltrator of global consumerism, found in almost all American neighborhoods. They are a double sided coin, on one side a globally recognized face, the other some apparently important items. Snowmen. A staple in every child’s frozen adolescence.

Yet when researching snowmen, one finds a subpar Wikipedia page, complete with a synopsis of Frosty the Snowman. Snowmen are a global custom, yet all the general public sees is a muse for an ugly sweater of an inflatable decoration. Mass media has attempted to claim and corrupt this symbol of global communities evolving together.
American-born rapper Young Jeezy was the founder of United Street Dopeboyz of America. He designed T-shirts featuring snowmen, but these t-shirts eventually were banned from local schools because they were believed to represent coke dealers, and portray anti-police messages. With the motto “Can’t ban the snowman,”Jeezy is the perfect example of skewing the cultural message.

The corruption of these morals were examined in an interview with Lally Mae, a Portland kindergartner. Mae identifies how snowmen have been spread to the younger generation when she began singing in her little voice the opening lines to Richard B. Smith’s “Winter Wonderland” (1934). She admitted that she doesn’t know the importance of snowmen, and her parents haven’t taken time to explain the delicate nature of one of modern mankind’s oldest rituals. This may explain why, when asked her favorite holiday song, she leapt into “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” But what gives humanity hope is the way she answered about the importance of snowmen. She grinned, looked down and maturely sighed, “I don’t know, yet.”

The solace is in the interest. A rare holiday symbol that does not belong to any race or religion. Just because it appears in Christmas movies and Coca-Cola commercials, it is not bound by this association. Snow creations have been documented all over the globe for at least 700 years. In China, recording of snow sculptures dates back all the way to the Qing dynasty beginning in 1644.

Bartolomeo del Corazza was a wine merchant, a pen pal to Friar Giovanni Dominici who urged Pope Innocent VII to resign in order to end the Great Schism of the Catholic church. It is Corazza who wrote the first substantial written record on snow creations. In the middle of the Little Ice Age, Brussels, Belgium produced the Miracle of 1511. Snow creations covered the city—everything from Mermaids to biblical figures and town idiots. Over half the creations were said to be either erotic or disturbing. This freedom of expression returned some semblance of power to the people, diminishing social structures. At a similar time people of higher social class were also experimenting with snow creations. Tsarevich Dimitry was the son of Ivan the Terrible, Tzar of Russia from 1533-47. He, along with friends built snow replicas of  men behind him in line for the throne Soon after, he sliced off their heads.

The snowman is early civilizations’ prized jewel. It has done something no man, religion, or government has ever been able to do: it has conquered the world.  It does not discriminate based the color of your skin, the entity you pray too, or the person you take home from the bar. It is the merit of character, the passion for imagination, the resilience of the cold that makes snowmen stand up and represent the global community for which they reign.

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