Why a white Christmas is something we can normally only dream of
If you’re hoping for a White Christmas in East Anglia in 2018, you’re almost certain to be disappointed – but you really shouldn’t be surprised, according to Paul Geater.
Because despite what we see in television and film dramas, white Christmases in most of England are very rare – it is generally too mild for snow at this time of year when you look at the statistics.
That’s certainly what forecasters from the Met Office are predicting this year.
In fact the last official white Christmas we had was in 1970 when a considerable amount of snow fell across the south of England on December 25. The “official” description of a white Christmas (accepted by the bookies) is that snow should fall on a certain place on the day itself.
While it might be 48 years since that happened – most people may remember the Christmases of 2009 and 2010 as “white”. Snow had fallen a few days earlier and was still on the ground.
You may also want to watch:
But the idea of a “white Christmas” in the UK probably goes back hundreds of years to the “Little Ice Age” that gripped the world between 1600 and 1850.
During those years snow on the ground was common in England from November to March or even April every year – so it would have been normal for people to associate snow with Christmas.
- 1 Swimmers report sickness symptoms after dip in Suffolk river
- 2 A12 closed by police after serious collision
- 3 'A rut had set in and it needed to change... we will have got one or two wrong' - Cook on his Ipswich Town squad cull
- 4 Haverhill firm goes into liquidation with just £2.42 in the bank
- 5 Edmundson ruled out of opener as Cook discusses 'four, five or six' more transfers
- 6 Evans on Town's 'powerful' mantra, not shying away from favourites tag and working under Cook again
- 7 Family 'devastated' after elderly man's Reliant Robin tipped over
- 8 Olly Murs in hospital after leg injury from Newmarket Nights gig
- 9 Nearly 20,000 parking fines since council took control of enforcement
- 10 Suffolk pub reopens with exclusive Champagne carvery
Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843, at the end of this cold period – so it was natural for him to conjure up images of snow on the ground.
And that image has been exported, especially to the US where white Christmases in the northern states are more common than on this side of the Atlantic – that’s all linked to the effects of the Gulf Stream.
But even in the US the concept isn’t universal – snow is rare in the southern states and the (almost forgotten) first verse of the best-known festive song reflects that.
When Irving Berlin wrote White Christmas in the 1930s, it started:
The sun is shining, the grass is green,
The orange and palm trees sway,
There’s never been such a day,
In Beverly Hills LA,
But it’s December the twenty-fourth,
And I am longing to be up North . . .
The intro had to be dropped when it was included in the film “Holiday Inn” and the song was recorded by Bing Crosby – and it has almost always been ignored since!