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This article is about the sculptures made of snow. For other uses, see Snowman (disambiguation).
A classic three-ball snowman

A snowman is an anthropomorphic snow sculpture often built by children in regions with sufficient snowfall. In North America, 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. Low-cost and availability are the common issues, since snowmen are usually abandoned to the elements once completed.


A "snow family" in Boise, Idaho with various accessories
Snowman on a frozen lake

Snow becomes suitable for packing when it approaches its melting point and becomes moist and compact. 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. Thus, the best time to build a snowman is usually in the next warm afternoon directly following a snowfall with a sufficient amount of snow. Using more compact snow allows for the construction of a large snowball by simply rolling it until it grows to the desired size. If the snowball reaches the bottom of the grass it may pick up traces of grass, gravel or dirt.

In Europe and North America, snowmen are built with three spheres depicting the head, torso, and lower body. The usual practice is to then decorate and optionally dress the snowman. Sticks can be used for arms, and a face is traditionally made with stones or coal for eyes and a carrot for a nose. Some like to dress their snowmen in clothing such as a scarf or hat, while others prefer not to risk leaving supplies out doors where they could easily be stolen or become stuck under melting ice.

There are variations to these 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.


The earliest known photograph of a snowman, c.1853

Documentation of the first snowman is unclear. However, Bob Eckstein, author of The History of the Snowman 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.[1]

In media[edit]

In this illustration from 1867, a snowman is surrounded by children
A snowman in the United Kingdom, 2008

Snowmen are a popular theme for Christmas and winter decorations and also in children's media. A famous snowman character is Frosty, the titular snowman in the popular children's song "Frosty the Snowman" (later adapted into film and television specials), who was magically brought to life by the old silk hat used on his head. In addition to numerous related music and other media for Frosty, snow-men also feature as:

Giant snowmen[edit]

Larger style of snowman with conical base. The angle of repose of a piled substance may be an aspect of snowman building at this size, depending on the properties of the snow and the method of construction.

In 2015, a man from the U.S. State of Wisconsin was noted for making a large snowman 22 feet tall and with a base 12 feet wide.[4]

The record for the world's largest snowman was set in 2008 in Bethel, Maine. The snow-woman stood 122 feet 1 inch (37.21 m) in height, and was named in honor of Olympia Snowe, a U.S. Senator representing the state of Maine.[5][6]

The previous record was also a snowman built in Bethel, Maine, in February 1999. The snowman was named "Angus, King of the Mountain" in honor of the then current governor of Maine, Angus King. It was 113 feet 7 inches (34.62 m) tall and weighed over 9,000,000 pounds (4,080,000 kg).[7]

A large snowman known as "Snowzilla" has been built each winter in Anchorage, Alaska.

In Unicode[edit]

In Unicode, the symbol for « snow man » is U+2603 ().

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eckstein, Bob (2008-12-02). "My Search for The First Snowman". The History of the Snowman. Open Salon. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  2. ^ Calvin and Hobbes Snow Art Gallery
  3. ^ M. Whitfill - Review: Do you want to build a snowman? - Huntington News
  4. ^ Wisconsin man builds giant Olaf snowman - CNN and Fox
  5. ^ "Topping 122 Feet, Snowman in Maine Vies for World Record". Fox News (Associated Press). 1 March 2008. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  6. ^ "Tallest snowman". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  7. ^ "Angus, King of the Mountain — World's Largest Snowman". Sunday River On-Line. February 19, 1999. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]