In our continuing effort to encourage scholarly research into the meaning of Christmas songs we will analyze Frosty the Snowman. You’ll recall that last week we discovered that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was largely about racism and mutant ruminants. But what about Frosty? The tale of the anthropomorphic snowbeast was written by Walter “Jack” Rollins in 1950 and was recorded by TV cowboy Gene Autry. Why a cowboy would sing a song about a living snowman is beyond me. The song quickly became a holiday classic spawning hundreds of books, records, and movies such as the Rankin-Bass classic Christmas special. Examining the song we see a snowman who knows his time on Earth is limited and he wants to have as much fun as possible before he dies. Yes friends, Frosty dies at the end.
“Frosty the snowman was a jolly happy soul, With a corncob pipe and a button nose and two eyes made out of coal.”
It’s great that Frosty is happy, but is it a good message to send to kids that smoking is OK and that coal is a good source of fuel even though it’s extremely polluting? You are going to make some suburban moms very mad, Frosty.
“Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale, they say, he was made of snow but the children know how he came to life one day. There must have been some magic in that old silk hat they found. For when they placed it on his head he began to dance around.”
This is the origin story of Frosty’s rise from frozen water to living sentience. Apparently, abandoned hats bestow the gift of life on any inanimate object it touches. Most abandoned hats only give the wearer head lice.
“Frosty the snowman knew the sun was hot that day, so he said, “Let’s run and we’ll have some fun now before I melt away.”
This is crucial as it shows that Frosty seems to be aware of his coming doom. He knows that the sun is too hot and that he’ll melt and yet he chooses to stay and play. Some might see this as a carpe diem, seize the day Dead Poets Society type of sentiment. But I wonder if Frosty is just suicidal? His reckless disregard for his own safety shows that he wants to die.
“Down to the village, with a broomstick in his hand, running here and there all around the square saying, catch me if you can.
He led them down the streets of town right to the traffic cop. And he only paused a moment when he heard him holler “Stop!”
Frosty clearly has a problem with authority. He doesn’t care what the police officer tells him to do. Frosty is a clear narcissist who does whatever he wants, consequences be damned.
“For Frosty the snow man had to hurry on his way, but he waved goodbye saying, “Don’t you cry, I’ll be back again some day.”
Frosty melts into a pool of living sludge right before the horrified children’s eyes. Very few Christmas songs end in death, but Frosty does. However, he leaves the children with the promise that he will return someday. I wonder if Rollins is making an explicit parallel between Frosty and Jesus Christ? Both are born through magic, both run around angering authority figures, both of them die and will one day return. Is Rollins saying that Frosty is a chilly messiah? Did Jesus have a magic hat and a corncob pipe? Archaeologists are unsure.