Jack Frost

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19th-century cartoon depicting Jack Frost as a United States major-general during the American Civil War

Jack Frost is a personification of frost, ice, snow, sleet, winter, and freezing cold. He is a variant of Old Man Winter who is held responsible for frosty weather, nipping the fingers and toes in such weather, coloring the foliage in autumn, and leaving fern-like patterns on cold windows in winter.

Starting in late 19th century literature, more developed characterizations of Jack Frost depict him as a sprite-like character, sometimes appearing as a sinister mischief-maker or as a hero.

Background[edit]

Jack Frost is traditionally said to leave the frosty, fern-like patterns on windows on cold winter mornings (window frost or fern frost) and nipping the extremities in cold weather. Over time, window frost has become far less prevalent in the modern world due to the advance of double-glazing, but Jack Frost remains a well-known figure in popular culture. He is sometimes described or depicted with paint brush and bucket coloring the autumnal foliage red, yellow, brown, and orange.[1] Sometimes he is portrayed as a dangerous giant:

The Hindus derive the name of Hindu Kush from the tradition that a giant used to lie there in wait to kill (kesh) all the Hindus who passed that way. This giant was probably the same whom we, in the Arctic Regions, used to call “Old Zero,” better known in England as “Jack Frost.” The horrors of the snow-covered wastes probably gave rise to the tradition."[2][3]

History[edit]

He may originate from Anglo-Saxon and Norse winter customs and has an entire chapter named after him in Kalevala, the Finnish national epic compiled from their ancient oral tradition.

In Russia however, he has taken on a different form as Grandfather Frost, and in Germany there is instead a different entity altogether known as Mrs. Holle. There are various other mythological beings who take on a similar role yet have a unique folklore to them.

Jack Frost is mentioned in many movies. for example, in the wintertime song "The Christmas Song" (aka "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire"). He has been presented as a villain in some media and a hero in others.

In popular culture[edit]

Literature[edit]

Window with frost patterns
Jack Frost pattern on window in Gatineau, Quebec
  • Hannah Flagg Gould's (1789-1865) poem "The Frost" features a mischievous being responsible for the quieter phenomena of winter, beautiful ice paintings on windows but who also got upset at lack of gifts and caused the cold to break and ruin things.[4]
  • In Margaret T. Canby's "Birdie and His Fairy Friends" (1874), there is a short story titled "The Frost Fairies." In this story, Jack Frost is the king of the Winter Spirits and is described as a kind fellow who wants to help children, whereas a king of a neighboring kingdom, King Winter, is cruel to them. The story tells the origins of how Jack Frost began to oversee the coloring of the leaves of the forest in fall.
  • In Charles Sangster's "Little Jack Frost", published in The Aldine, (Vol.7, No.16, 1875) Jack Frost is a playful being who runs around playing pranks and 'nose-biting', coating places with snow before being chased off by Dame Nature for spring.[5]
  • In L. Frank Baum's The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (1902), Jack Frost is the son of the otherwise unnamed Frost King. He takes pleasure in nipping "scores of noses and ears and toes", but Santa Claus, who likes Jack (who he sees as a "jolly rogue") though he mistrusts him, asks him to spare the children. Jack says he will, if he can resist the temptation.[6] The same Jack appears in "The Runaway Shadows", a short story by Baum. In this story, he has the power to freeze shadows, separating them from their owners, making them their own living entities.[7]
  • In Laurell K. Hamilton's Meredith Gentry series, a character emerges as the original Jack Frost. Jack Frost has appeared as a minor character in the Rupert Bear stories.
  • In the Rainbow Magic books by Daisy Meadows, Jack Frost is an antagonist who causes trouble in Fairyland. He is accompanied by pesky goblins who steal the fairies' important objects, and try to sabotage them.
  • Jack Frost also appears in "First Death in Nova Scotia", a poem by Elizabeth Bishop.
  • In the novel Hogfather by Terry Pratchett, Jack grows tired of "fern patterns" and paints more elaborate pictures on windows.
  • Jack Frost appears in The Veil trilogy of novels by Christopher Golden.
  • The Man Jack, an enigmatic assassin, calls himself Jack Frost in The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.
  • The Stranger, a picture book by Chris Van Allsburg, stars Jack Frost as a lonely stranger with amnesia.
  • Jack Frost is one of the co-stars of the 2002 novel Jill Chill and the Baron of Glacier Mountain, written by Ed McCray with artwork by George Broderick, Jr. Jack is portrayed as Jill Chill's boyfriend.
  • Jack Frost, an automaton of one of the Ten Benchwarmers in the Unbreakable Machine-Doll light novel.
  • William Joyce's Guardians of Childhood series features Jack Frost as a character, here known by the full name Jackson Overland Frost. He is the subject of the picture book The Guardians of Childhood: Jack Frost which depicts him as having been previously known as Nightlight, guardian of the Man in the Moon. Jack Frost is also the focus of the fifth and final Guardians novel, Jack Frost: The End Becomes the Beginning.
  • Jack Frost also features in Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Comics[edit]

  • In comic books, Jack Frost appears as a superhero in works published by Timely Comics (now Marvel Comics) in the 1940s.
  • Marvel Comics had a second Jack Frost, the first alias of the original Blizzard.
  • Jack Frost appears in the 2009 comic book Jill Chill & The Christmas Star by Ed McCray and George Broderick Jr., a sequel to the Jill Chill illustrated novel mentioned above.
  • Jack Frost is the alias of Dane McGowan one of the main characters from the 1990s Vertigo series The Invisibles.
  • Jack Frost, an automaton of one of the Ten Benchwarmers in the Unbreakable Machine-Doll manga.
  • In Jack of Fables (a Fables spinoff) the titular character became Jack Frost for a period of time. A second Jack Frost ("Jack too, or Jack two") appears as the son of Jack Horner and The Snow Queen.

Films[edit]

Radio, animation, and television[edit]

Video games[edit]

Jack Frost has appeared in many video games including:

Jack Frost is the official corporate mascot for the Japanese video game company, Atlus.

Music[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bartholomew F. Bland, Laura L. Vookles, William H. Gerdts, Laura L. Vookles. (2010) Paintbox Leaves: Autumnal Inspiration from Cole to Wyeth. Hudson River Museum. p. 41. ISBN 0943651301.Tveten, John L. and Gloria Tveten. (2008). Nature at Your Doorstep: A Nature Trails Book. Texas A&M University Press. p. 47. ISBN 1603440364.
  2. ^ “The Upper Basin of the Kabul River,” C. R. Markham. Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of Geography New Monthly Series, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Feb., 1879), pp. 110-121.
  3. ^ Rollo's Museum. Jacob Abbott. Boston, Weeks, Jordan, and Company. 1839, p. 185.
  4. ^ Griswold, Rufus Wilmot (26 November 2018). "The Female Poets of America: By Rufus Wilmont Griswold". Ardent Media – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Charles Sangster (April 1875). "Little Jack Frost. A Rhyme for Flossie": 308. JSTOR 20636992. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ "HugeDomains.com - NonestIca.com is for sale (Nonest Ica)". ozmatron.nonestica.com.
  7. ^ "The Runaway Shadows or A Trick of Jack Frost by L. Frank Baum". Archived from the original on March 4, 2005. Retrieved 2017-04-16.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  8. ^ "DreamWorks Adapting Upcoming Book Series The Guardians".

External links[edit]