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December 21st – Twenty-first day of Advent

December 21, 2008

The Winter Solstice blew in on the north wind last night – frigid temperatures and frozen crystals falling.

Last night I watched my favorite Christmas movie, A Child’s Christmas in Wales.  Grandfather and Thomas are prolonging Christmas Eve by talking in front of the Christmas tree, as it rains outside.  Grandfather has just given Thomas a gift he received as a child:  a beautiful snow globe.  When Thomas shakes the globe, we enter the scene of Christmas’s past – in Grandfather’s memory.

Snow globes are magical.  They can take you to places long ago or far away.

The History of the Snow Globe

“Snow globes first appeared in the late 1800’s in France and are believed to be derived from the concept of paperweights. The first water globe was a palm-sized glass globe featuring the Eiffel Tower as the center piece with a ceramic base and fake snow. It was introduced to the public in the 1889 Paris Exposition and became a great souvenir item.

The fad did not start in the United States until the 1920s. The early snow globes were souvenirs of local towns and were inscribed with the town’s name but they were produced by German companies. A turning point in the history of snow globes was in 1927 when Joseph Garaja of Pittsburgh filed a patent for the mass production of glass waterglobes of “artistic attractiveness and novel ornamentation.” The patent was granted on December 31, 1929.

The most famous snow globe is in the movie “Citizen Kane” in the opening scene where a snow globe fills the screen, then diminishes and breaks when it rolls out of the hand of Charles Foster Kane as he whispers Rosebud.”

The Anatomy of the Snow Globe

“The snow: The floaty stuff — whether it looks like white snow or glitter — is referred to as “flitter.” In the early snow globes, manufacturers tried everything but the kitchen sink: bone or porcelain chips, ground rice, sand, sawdust and wax bound with camphor. Now it’s mostly plastic.

The liquid: The cheap plastic ones are usually just filled with water, but the higher-end globe makers mix their water with glycol, an antifreeze, which helps slow down the snowfall. (The antifreeze also helps when manufacturers need to ship their globes in the winter).

The figurines: They used to be made of bisque (unglazed porcelain), bone, metals, minerals, molded plastic, rubber or wax.

The base: Bases have been made of clay, marble, metal, plastic, porcelain, pottery and wood. If a snow globe plays music, as many fancy ones do, the globe may have three or four ball feet attached to the base.”

How To Make a Snow Globe

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 22, 2008 6:34 am

    My knowledge of films is deplorable (not being allowed to watch movies, or television, much when I was a child). So, this A Child’s Christmas In Wales sounds delightful, and I thank you for bringing it to my attention. Also, snow globes are as beautiful as they are magical. So, so lovely.

    Bellezza, I do hope you have a chance to watch A Child’s Christmas in Wales. It is a wonderful, old fashioned story, and Dylan Thomas is such a fabulous poet, I am sure you will not be disappointed.
    I wasn’t allowed much TV as a child either – I found this movie as a grownup!

  2. December 22, 2008 9:22 pm

    Snow globes are wonderful. The only thing I hate about them is when they occasionally get that air bubble in them that sits at the top. So annoying. My daughter collected snow globes when she was younger and she has a large and really cool selection of snow globes.

    It turned really frigid here the last couple of days, really frigid. I love it when winter is in the 30’s and there is snow on the ground. I hate it when it is below zero with the wind chills and even indoors feels cold because of the freezing winds.

    Even the 20’s would be welcome right now, Carl. At least the wind has died down. I know what you mean about cold inside – my furnace is having a hard time keeping up.
    I read about a woman who had 6,000 snow globes! They are wonderful – even the little plastic, dime store models. I hate it when the snow gets old and turns brown – that’s the worst. I wonder if the egg shell/snow recipe stays clear and white? I am going to try it.

  3. December 23, 2008 1:59 am

    I never knew all this! Very cool — it’s sort of looking like a snowglobe outside my office window right now!

    I DO love these posts! So wonderful…!

    It is supposed to look like a snowglobe here – on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I don’t know where we will go with more snow. The city has been hauling away truckloads and dumping it in the river. My driveway is going to get skinnier and skinnier. 🙂

  4. December 23, 2008 3:53 am

    That version of Child’s Christmas is our favourite as well. We watch it every Christmas Eve just before going to bed.

    What a lovely tradition.

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