Since the dawn of time, humans have made images of themselves in stone, pencil, and paint. According to Bob Eckstein, “snowman expert” and author of The History of the Snowman, snowmen are “one of man’s oldest forms of folk art.”

What has made snowmen so popular, even from ancient times? Two reasons may be the affordability and availability of the building materials. During the winter months, snow came free and in abundance to both the rich and poor. This lighthearted activity likely offered repose from the unfavorable rigors of the winter season.

The earliest written record of the snowman is thought to be an illustration called an illumination, found in a book from the 1300s. Shortly after the birth of film photography, a snowman was photographed around 1853. Today, snowmen and their images can be found everywhere from street corners to children’s books to holiday decor.

Here are some more frosty facts about our favorite winter friend:
• Snowmen were featured on some of the earliest postcards and in early silent films.
• At 19 years of age, famed artist Michelangelo was commissioned to build a snowman in the courtyard of a mansion owned by the ruler of Florence, Italy.
• A harsh winter led to the Miracle of 1511, when the residents of Brussels built many snowmen to make political and social statements.
• Each year since 1818, the residents of Zurich, Switzerland have celebrated the coming of spring by blowing up a giant snowman called the Bӧӧgg.

Do you have any winter snowman traditions of your own? Don’t delay, book your reservations at the Essex Street Inn and take advantage of the sparkling snows of Massachusetts.