Jesse Ferrell

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Exposed: Why We Dream of a White Christmas

November 18, 2009; 11:09 AM ET

UPDATE Dec. 2013: Climate.Gov has released a newer and more accurate version of their "Chance of a White Christmas" map, based on the new 1981-2010 data set. Unfortunately, due to it being a different design, I can't compare it to the previous climate data set any more than I did last year in my blog entry "White Christmas vs. Global Warming."


With holidays coming up, the song "Over The River" starts playing in my head... but why did the "horse" have to "know the way through... drifting snow" in a Boston suburb for Thanksgiving? It turns out that most Holiday lore was invented in the 1800s during a climatic event known as "The Little Ice Age," when pre-holiday snow was common in the populated areas of New England and Europe. I've dusted off a blog entry that I wrote in 2006 and have refreshed it with larger graphics and corrected links.

Read on to find out to find out the meteorological significance of these holiday gems:

"Over the River and Through the Woods" (1840s)

- November snow was common in Boston

Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" (1840s)

- London would often have snow cover in December

"Twas the Night Before Christmas" (1820s)

- December snow was typical then in New York City

- Reindeer (Arctic animals) aren't found at this latitude anymore

The Song "A White Christmas" (1942)

- Was done later but they were "dreaming" about stories their grandparents told them

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Jesse Ferrell
Jesse Ferrell's WeatherMatrix blog covers extreme weather worldwide with a concentration on weather photos and Social Media.