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A snowman is an anthropomorphic snow sculpture. In some cases, participants in winter festivals will build large numbers of snowmen. Because a snowman is situation-specific, it is a good example of popular installation art.
Typical snowmen feature three large snowballs, and some additional accoutrements for facial and other features. Common accessories include branches for arms and a rudimentary smiley face; a carrot can stand in for a nose. Human clothing, such as a hat or scarf, may even be included. Low-cost and availability are an issue, since snowmen are usually in a cold and/or wet environment, and abandoned to the elements once completed. Melting is a common end-of-life scenario for most snowmen.
Snow becomes suitable for packing when it approaches its melting point and becomes moist and compact. This allows for the construction of a large snowball by simply rolling it, until it grows to the desired size. If the snow ball reaches the bottom of the grass it may tear up some grass, gravel, dirt etc. 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. In Europe and North America, snowmen are built with three spheres depicting the head, torso, and lower body.
The usual practice is to then dress the snowman, usually with rocks, coal, sticks, and vegetables. Carrots or cherries are often used for the nose, as are sticks for arms and stones for eyes (traditionally lumps of coal). Some like to dress their snowmen in clothing (scarves, jackets, hats). 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. These other types range from snow columns to elaborate snow sculptures (similar to ice sculptures).
A Boise, Idaho "snowfamily" with various whimsical accessories.
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.
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", who had a corncob pipe, a button nose, and two eyes made out of coal. In addition to numerous related numerous related music and other media for Frosty, snow-men also feature as:
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, the senior Republican U.S. Senator representing Maine.
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).
Snowmen can also be a theme for toys, costumes, and decorations.
In addition to snowmen, other things can be produced with similar materials. Typical variations on the snowman concept include using raw materials other than snow, or using similar materials but a new meme. See snow sculpture.
In areas after a prolonged hailstorm, which can occur at any time of year, the accumulated hail can mix together with rain to form a substance similar to snow. It is possible to create snowman-like sculptures from this substance.
Desert "snowmen", Tohono Chul Park, Tucson, Arizona, USA
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