Mythology And Folklore

The Origins of Jack Frost



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Jack Frost is one of those impish characters that personify winter. Originating in Scandinavian mythology, the story of Jack Frost has been retold for countless generations, and today is the wintry figure that is said to decorate surfaces with the patterns of ice. Jack Frost is also the person who makes your nose tingle in the cold weather.

The roots of Jack Frost as a mythological figure are generally considered to be Norse or Viking in origin, and the name Jack Frost is an anglicised version of Jokul Frosti. Jokil means Icicle, whilst Frosti is fairly obviously Frost. The actual tales that relate to Jack Frost though are very few and far between, and as such much supposition is made about the character. In most cases Jack Frost is surmised to be the offspring of Kari, the Norse god of wind.

There are some tales though of Jack Frost that do appear within Anglo-Saxon and Germanic mythology, although perhaps the closeness of these stories to Norse mythology makes this link unsurprising.

There are though personifications of Jack Frost in stories from much further a field, with the most famous being from Russia. In Russian, Jack Frost is known as Father Frost who works with water and ice to sculpt the earth. Most cultures though have some figure that is identified with cold weather, and now most are linked to Jack Frost although whether there is any real connection from the past is an oft debated point.

The lack of specificity in any mythology has ensured that the character is portrayed in many different ways in modern tales. Now known as an elfish figure, most of the modern depiction of Jack Frost can be traced back not to mythology but an 1864 edition of Harper’s Weekly. It was in this publication that Thomas Nast, a renown artist painted Jack Frost as a an icicle clad figure.

In modern tales Jack Frost can be simply portrayed as the bringer of ice, but his actual character can differ from an impish joker to a vicious sprite. Jack Frost even makes an appearance alongside Rupert the Bear where he is a relatively friendly character, with a sister known as Jenny Frost. Indeed Jack Frost has even made his appearance in the films of Hollywood.

Jack Frost is the bringer of pretty ice patterns and no matter what his true origins, Jack Frost plays his own role in the modern tales of each society.

More about this author: Tim Harry

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