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Snowless seasons : Redefining the White Christmas in a Warming world.

Updated: Jun 12

By Ajeneza Bana Amanda

Science & Environment Editor

     The phrase “a white Christmas” has deep cultural and literary significance. It evokes the  nostalgia of a time with no care in the world; one spent just  idly playing outside during the holiday season with our loved ones, and then coming back in for snuggles to heat each other. Various cultural influences, including literature, music and art, reinforce the idealized image of a white Christmas as a symbol of purity, innocence and holiday magic. Notably, the release of Charles Dickens's Christmas Carol solidified this association, and propelled the phrase into mainstream literature, illustrating Christmas with a coat of snow draped snuggly over the horizon. The novella revolves around the transformation of the temperament of a greedy businessman named Ebenezer Scrooge, exploring community and loneliness while painting an image of a productive and money-focused society. However, the prevalence of snow during Christmas has not been consistent over time and across regions; it is scary watching the numbers go down.

Did you know that the iconic image of a white Christmas is partly associated with the release of Charles Dickens's The Christmas Carol? Its definition is a Christmas with snow involved, either on the ground or in the sky. 

As our planet undergoes significant environmental changes,  we are forced to reevaluate our traditional notion of a white Christmas, particularly in regions where snowfall has historically been common. With rising temperatures, it is becoming less and less common to have the ideal holiday. The same Christmas that was almost stolen by a green, furry, pot-bellied, pear-shaped, snub-nosed humanoid creature, the very Christmas seen in Coca-Cola commercials; the Christmas some grew up with. 

This winter, in particular, has been marked by exceptionally warm and snowless conditions. With predictions of a white Christmas having been half and half, and no storm in sight for 30 days, you would think it is good news for drivers and pedestrians. However, that truly means forcing communities to halt any snow-related traditions for the winter and spring. So, halt the skiing or skating, and no more maple taffy! 

In the face of global warming, communities world-wide are grappling with the need to adapt  their winter traditions and consumption rituals to better fit the changing climate. While some regions continue to have habitual weather, others are confronted to  live the holidays in entirely new ways, with unusual weather events such as decreasing water supply from rain or unseasonably warm temperatures. With the thermometer being 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than a century and a half ago, it is of great concern  that our children may never experience the joy of snow days. The scope of this  experience underscores the interconnectedness of our planet's climate systems and the consequent need for collective action to, at the very least, shift the course of our climate future. As we prepare to celebrate the greatness of a new year, let us draw inspiration from sustainable organizations to experience with good conscience.

Did you also know that with or without snow on December 24-25, communities inside and outside Canada embrace celebrations around the winter months? Businesses often acknowledge those special occasions to include consumers who may not take part in traditional Christmas festivities. That recognition can have a profound impact on making those lesser-known holidays a part of their peer's common knowledge and lives.


Melting Away :

As we settle into life with climate change, let us remember that the spirit of Christmas lay not in the presence of snow but in the warmth and connection we shared with our loved ones on those frigid days. By reimagining our traditions and exploring new ones to embrace sustainability, we can reinforce the spirit of community, honour our past, celebrate our present, and hope for a good future. In doing so, we embody a white Christmas one of purity and minimalism to preserve our planet for generations to come. 


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