In English folklore, Jack Frost appears as an elfish creature who personifies crisp, cold, winter weather; a variant of Father Winter (also known as "Old Man Winter"). Some believe this representation originated in Viking folklore.
Tradition holds Jack Frost responsible for leaving frosty crystal patterns on windows on cold mornings (window frost or fern frost).
Possible sources and parallels
Those who believe in Viking folklore roots state that the English language derives the name "Jack Frost" from the Norse character names, Jokul ("icicle") and Frosti ("frost"). Another theory sees "Jack Frost" as a much more recent import into Anglo-Saxon culture from a Russian fairy tale (see Morozko). In the Finnish epos Kalevala (canto number 30, as translated from Finnish into English by Keith Bosley) Jack Frost appears as the son of Blast, "Pakkanen Puhurin Poika".
Other tales in Russia represent frost as Father Frost, a smith who binds water and earth together with heavy chains. Compare the German folklore figure, the old woman Frau Holle, who causes snow by shaking white feathers out of her bed.
Jack Frost may represent an ancestral memory of the Anglo-Saxon and Norse God, Ullr, one of the twelve Aesir. Ullr, the god of the winter and snow, can have epithets such as "ski-god", "bow-god", "hunting-god" and "shield-god". In Germanic paganism, Ullr appears as a major god in prehistoric times, or even an epitheton (*wulþuz, Old English wuldor, meaning "glory") of the head of the pantheon of Germanic mythology. The 3rd-century Thorsberg chape and late Icelandic sources mention Ullr, but little other information regarding the god has survived.
- Jack Frost, a Russo-Finnish film from 1964, has the Russian title Morozko — the Russian equivalent of Jack Frost. Mystery Science Theater 3000, episode #813, riffed it mercilessly.
- The character of Jack Frost appears in three United States films, two of them named simply Jack Frost:
- Jack Frost appears as the title character in a 1934 release of Ub Iwerks's ComiColor Cartoons.
- In Frosty's Winter Wonderland, Jack Frost, jealous of Frosty the Snowman because of all the attention he gets from children, tries to render him lifeless by stealing his magic hat, but eventually has a change of heart when chosen as the best man at Frosty and Crystal's wedding. He reappears in Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July.
- In Jack Frost, a claymation Rankin-Bass Christmas TV special (1979), Jack Frost falls in love with a human girl and seeks to become human. Father Winter grants his wish, but tells him that if he does not have a house, a horse, a bag of gold, and a wife by "the first sign of spring" he will become a sprite again.
In pop culture
As a pseudonym
- Bob Dylan used the name "Jack Frost" as a pseudonym when he produced his 2001 album Love and Theft, as well as his 2006 record, Modern Times.
- Jack Rosenberg (later known as "Werner Erhard") used the nickname "Jack Frost", while selling cars in Philadelphia in the 1950s
- Jack Dempsey, the guitarist of the Seven Witches, goes by the pseudonym of "Jack Frost". Apart from his work in Seven Witches he has also released two solo albums, many famous (heavy) metal artists joining him.