Forecasters hope for a white Christmas

Films and books have made snow an important part of the way we imagine Christmas.

Although no one can be sure, weather forecasters have said that there is a chance of snow on Christmas Day this year. Why is snow part of our festive traditions?

What’s happening

As temperatures are likely to get colder towards the end of the year, weather forecasters have said that this year could be a ‘white Christmas’. A flurry of snow is expected during the festive period, particularly in Scotland and Northern England.

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The UK’s Met Office says there has only been a ‘widespread covering’ of snow on 25 December four times in 51 years. But if white Christmases are so rare, why do we think they are such an important part of the traditions?

Part of the reason is that snow is a popular way of showing Christmas in films like Elf and It’s A Wonderful Life. And, of course, Bing Crosby dreamed of snowy scenes in his song White Christmas. This all started with Charles Dickens, whose childhood coincided with a period of harsh winters known as ‘the little ice age’.

But in a way, the obsession with snow at Christmas is very strange. After all, the holiday celebrates the birth of Jesus in Israel - a country in the Middle East which is not known for freezing temperatures.

Some say…

Christmas is not about the weather, or films about the weather, or even songs about the weather. For Christians, it is about the nativity story, and for everyone else it should be about spending time with our families. Snow on Christmas Day does not make it more special; it’s just a coincidence.

Others think…

Even if our traditions make little sense, they have become part of the way we celebrate Christmas. Snow means playing together to make snowmen outside, or riding on a sledge, or even just appreciating how beautiful our streets look underneath a layer of white. People invent new traditions all the time - it doesn’t mean they are not special.

You Decide

  1. What are your favourite winter traditions?

Activities

  1. Lots of people complain that there are no good new Christmas songs. In groups, write your own festive hit.

Some People Say...

“Snow doesn’t make Christmas white - family does.”

What do you think?

Word Watch

Forecasters
People who use science to predict the weather.
Met Office
The UK’s official weather service, used by the government. Met is short for Meteorological.
Charles Dickens
Writer of A Christmas Carol (1843), which includes classic scenes of snow at Christmas.
Coincided
Happened at the same time.
Middle East
An area including countries in Northern Africa and Western Asia.
Nativity
The Bible story of the birth of Jesus, when Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem.

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