Francetic Tax Resolution LLC - December 2020

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The Surprising History of the Snowman

NOT JUST A CORN COB PIPE AND BUTTON NOSE

Building a snowman is one of the most picturesque winter activities, which is why snowmen have become a wintertime cultural icon. A snowman appeared on the very first postcards, was the subject of some of the earliest photos, and even starred in silent movies. Frosty may be a happy snowman now, but his ancestors have a much more varied — and sometimes dark — history. THE MIDDLE AGES Snowmen were a phenomenon in the Middle Ages. They were constructed with deep thought and great skill because, during a time of limited means of expression, snow was a free art supply that literally fell from the sky. These artistic feats were popular winter attractions for well-to-do couples who wanted to get their fix of temporary art. Snowmen were often created by famous artists, including 19-year-old Michelangelo who, in 1494, was commissioned by the ruler of Florence to sculpt a snowman in his mansion’s courtyard. THE MIRACLE OF 1511 In Brussels in 1511, during six weeks of subzero temperatures called the Winter of Death, the city was miraculously adorned with hundreds of snowmen. The spectacle told stories on every street

corner — some political and some demonstrating anger with the church, many too risque to speak of. For the people of Brussels, this Miracle of 1511 was a defining moment of artistic freedom. But when spring came and the snow thawed, the Belgians were left with damaging floods. THE SCHENECTADY MASSACRE Not all snowmen have an innocent history. In 1690, former Fort Schenectady in upstate New York was home to a remote Dutch settlement, which was under the constant threat of attack. Soldiers guarded the gates at all times because they were frozen open, but during a blizzard, they left a pair of snowmen to protect the gates while they sought shelter. That's when 200 French Canadian soldiers and Native Americans approached. Naturally, they were unfazed by the snowmen and ruthlessly invaded the settlement. Building a snowman seems like a simple and charming activity, but after learning about its surprising history, you might find those piles of snow seem a little more complicated and a lot more meaningful than before.

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