Who Is Jack Frost? The Origins of Jack Frost

(Last Updated On: December 22, 2020)

You might have heard of him, the one responsible for nipping at your nose and frosting your windows with fern-like patterns during wintertime. His name is Jack Frost, and his legend dates back centuries. So who is he?

Jack Frost Origins

There’s not one particular story that we can point to for the creation of Jack Frost, but rather a collection of stories taken from countries all over the world. In some cultures he’s considered a villain, in some hero, but in all of them he’s the personification of the winter season.

While there’s much debate over the origins of Jack Frost, many believe he originated from Scandinavian or Anglo-Saxon traditions. In one popular story, he’s the son of Kari, Norse god of the winds. In Finnish folklore, there is the legend of Frostman and Frostwoman, who control weather and must keep good conditions for the reindeer to live in. In many cultures around the world, it is common to personify things like the seasons and weather. In Japanese folklore, for example, there are stories of a Frost Man and his brother, Mist Man, who are the keepers of frost and dew.

As for the Jack Frost of today, there isn’t much reasoning as to why his name has come to be Jack, other than “Jack” was a common slang word for “man” in England during the 16th and 17 centuries.

What Does He Look Like?

Jack Frost is most often portrayed as a spritely character, and depending on where you look, he’s either a hero or a villain. Frost has been the subject of a variety of songs, stories, and movies. Dreamworks came out with Rise of the Guardians in 2012, which features Jack Frost as the main protagonist, an angsty teenager who discovers his true purpose. He’s also featured as a man in The Santa Clause 3, and plays an evil character looking to overthrow Santa. And let’s not forget the movie Jack Frost, a film about a father who dies in a car crash but magically comes back to life as a snowman to spend time with his son.

The first illustrated cartoon of the character is thought to be a political cartoon published in 1861 in Harper’s Weekly. It showed a drawing by Thomas Nast and depicted general Jack Frost freezing out the malaria that was spreading during the American Civil War. Nast was also famous for creating the image of Santa Claus that we’re familiar with today.

Now when you hear The Christmas Song, you can think of Jack Frost, spreading frosty cheer to people all over the world.

It’s starting to feel frosty outside. So curl up next to a fire, pull out a laptop or mobile device, and test your trivia knowledge with some fun winter quizzes on Sporcle! Or test your luck in the quiz below!