Classic Our Word
Last night we had our friends Badda Blogger, the D&B, and The Boy over for dinner. It was a pleasant evening of good food, good conversation and fellowship. In the course of the night the talk turned to esoteric things like Christmas television (Badda had never seen the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol, nor the Mr. Magoo rendition), and it reminded me of this piece from a couple of years ago, when my friend Hadleyblogger Peter analyzed the true meaning of the Rankin-Bass classic Frosty the Snowman. It was one of my favorite posts then, and remains so today.
An added note: the same writer who penned Frosty, Romeo Muller, also wrote Rankin-Bass' Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, and if Frosty parallels the New Testament Resurrection, Santa Claus suggests the Old Testament story of Moses, with the young Claus child of the cartoon left in a basket at the door of the despotic Burgermeister Meisterburger, the baby (renamed Kris) being raised in the home of Tanta Kringle and the toy-making elves, and the eventual exodus of Kris, his wife, and the elves out of the Burgermeister's influence to the safety of the North Pole. I don't know if anyone has ever seriously analyzed the religious undertones of these cartoons, but I think it might make for an interesting venture.
My friend Peter DePalma is a pretty bright guy, so when he told me about the allegorical implications of Frosty the Snowman, I had to sit up and take notice.
I’d always enjoyed the cartoon in something of a nostalgic way, as part of the memories of Christmases past. At that, I thought the plot was kind of thin. I mean, a kid thinking they can take a train to the North Pole on Christmas Eve? Without bringing any money? And then there’s the phony magician, the talking rabbit, and – well, you get the picture. You didn’t watch Frosty for the drama, you simply basked in its warm sepia glow.
But then Peter asked me if I’d ever noticed how the story of Frosty was an allegory for the life of Christ.
“What?” I think I said.
“Sure,” he replied, and proceeded to document the ways:
- His birth occurs in the dead of winter, much as Christ's birth is symbolized with the evergreen in winter (and obviously suggests miraculous life from a dead or virginal womb).
- Frosty always says, "Happy Birthday!" when he comes to life...strongly suggesting a birth... and the tradition of birthdays probably comes from the celebration of Christ's birth.
- Frosty’s self-sacrifice, going into the greenhouse to save Karen’s life even though he risks melting in the heat, much as Christ the Savior suffers and dies on the Cross.
- The resurrection – Santa opens the door to the greenhouse and the winter winds sweep into the room, bringing Frosty to life, in the same way that the Holy Spirit (often portrayed in the Bible as a wind) enters the Tomb.
- Frosty goes to the North Pole with Santa in his sleigh, as Christ Ascends into Heaven.
- Frosty returns every year with Santa (“I’ll be back again some day,” he sings in the song.) Christ, having been seated at the right hand of the Father, will come again in glory.
Interesting, hm? Of course, Peter added, “some folks will read that and think I'm making too much out of a tenuous connection. Those people may be right, but I only say that to be polite. It would be too much of a coincidence, otherwise. It's obviously magicked-up (or kid-story-ified) to make into a neat little story for children, but the inspiration is obvious. The producers might not have wanted to make a Christian story, and that's certainly possible... however, they clearly used the Christ story as inspiration."
All of a sudden, the story starts to make sense, and what until then had been a fairly one-dimensional cartoon (literally, given that the rest of the Rankin-Bass cartoons were done in that three-dimensional animation) has become, in fact, a much deeper and more complex parable. Now, maybe this is like Pink Floyd and the Wizard of Oz in that everyone in the world already knew about this and I’m just finding out. I’d be interested to hear if anyone out there has noticed a similar religious vein to the story. And I’d love to be able to ask Arthur Rankin, Jr., the producer, if either he or Romeo Muller, the writer of the story, had any intentions of this.If not, of course, it’s just another example of how the Lord works through even the most common and ordinary means.
P.S. Here's a pretty neat website!