Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Watch Out, Watch Out, Jack Frost is About

Winter is here and it was so cold the other morning. 
There has been a cold front passing over New Zealand and when it comes up from the south it tends to deposit snow in the South Island but by the time it reaches us in the middle of the North Isalnd it has moved off the country to the east and we are left the cold sunny days but that means it will start with a frost. 

This day the water in the chooks trough in their run was two centimeters thick!
I had to break it out with a rock!

 Early morning frost and after the sun has risen.

 Look Out, Look Out, Jack Frost is about.

Cecily E. Pike

Look out ! Look out !
Jack Frost is about !
He's after our fingers and toes;
And, all through the night,
The gay little sprite
Is working where nobody knows.

He'll climb each tree,
So nimble is he,
His silvery powder he'll shake;
To windows he'll creep,
And while we're asleep,
Such wonderful pictures he'll make.

Across the grass
He'll merrily pass,
And change all its greenness to white;
Then home he will go,
And laugh, "Ho ! ho ! ho !
What fun I have had in the night !"
Jack Frost has been portrayed in many works of fiction over the years, Cecily Pike wrote a nursery rhyme above. This is a scary prospect for a child to be singing about, but if it helps to make children wrap up warm then I guess it works.
I had remembered this verse as “Watch out! Watch out! Jack Frost is about...” but searching for it I found it started with “Look out!”
As a child my mother would say the rhyme above and warned to wrap up warm so that Jack Frost didn't get to me and I have now felt the need to find out who or what this creature is and why exactly he was going to "get me" if I did not wrap up warm in winter time.

Jack Frost is a little elfish, sprite-like character who spreads the crisp, cold frosty, winter weather with roots in Viking lore. There, he is known as Jokul Frosti ("icicle frost"). In Britain and United States, Jack is a variant of Old Man Winter. Jack Frost is friendly but if provoked, he will kill his victims by covering them with snow. He is traditionally thought to be responsible for frosty weather, for nipping the nose and toes in such weather. He is sometimes depicted with paint brush and bucket colouring the autumnal foliage red, yellow, purple, and orange and leaving the frosty fern-like crystal patterns on windows on cold mornings in winter, which only disappears once the sun begins to shine.
In Russia, Jack Frost is known as Father Frost, whose job is to bind together Earth and water with heavy chains. He is also said to have originated from the Russian fairytale, Father Frost – a story about an evil stepmother who hates her stepdaughter and orders her out into the cold and dark forest.
While she is sat in the fields, Father Frost comes to see her and she is polite and kind to him. He rewards her with a chest of beautiful clothes and she returns to the house to the horror of her stepmother.
Greedy for her stepdaughter’s gifts, she sends out her own daughter to meet Father Frost. But the daughter is rude to him and Father Frost freezes her to death.
In Germany, it is an old woman who creates the snow when she shakes out her bed of white feathers.
It is said that Jack Frost is son of Kari, God of the winds.

Others think the fellow is an Anglo-Saxon and Norse creation, which ever you choose to believe, it still means that Jack Frost personifies the crisp cold mysterious appearance in the weather of winter and therefore is to blame for the ice on the roads when we are trying to get to work in winter time or when are car doors are jammed shut as they have been frozen to the body of the car.

So next winter, when you see the first signs of frost, just think about the small elf-like creature who is responsible for depositing it there, and before you moan about the icy ground once you've slipped over, just stop and think how beautiful the frost looks when it’s on the trees. Just don't forget to wrap up warm your fingers and toes are quite valuable after all!


  1. Brr ... I must admit the frosty patterns are very pretty. Mornings like this, you appreciate the warmth of the fire. Maa

  2. We've just come from a holiday in Ranfurly, Central Otago. Yesterday we had a -12 degree frost. Back in Dunedin this morning and the 9 degrees feels almost tropical!
    it was interesting to read about Jack Frost and all his different personnas across the world.