Snow Symbolism (9 Meanings in Dreams and Literature)

Snow symbolism usually represents cold and winter. But it can also represent:

  • Innocence
  • Purity
  • Flexibility
  • Change
  • Temporariness
  • Hibernation

On a more negative level, snow might even represent death and negative emotions.

(All 9 symbols are outlined below).

Snow is one of the most versatile symbols in the world. For many people, snow is a pleasant thing as they observe it from their living rooms, and enjoy the moment. For others, it’s an unpleasant event that means they have to adapt to it because it brings cold and slippery roads with it.

Because of its ambiguous nature, snow is commonly featured in literature, too. It’s widely used in all types of literature, including Japanese, English, and others. We’ll take a closer look at what snow represents in literature.

Snow Symbolism

> This article is from our A-Z series on weather symbolism


9 Meanings of Snow as a Symbol

Snow symbolism is very wide and ambiguous, so let’s take a look at some of the more common meanings of snow.

1. Innocence

Snow is white and soft, representing innocence and purity. White is usually the color of innocence, which is why many people connect snow to this symbolic meaning. Even though it’s cold, snow can represent something that’s pure, which is what happens when the snow is fresh and new – although it gets dirtier with time, which can be similar to what happens with us as we grow up.

> Read also: Symbolism of Innocence

2. Winter

Snow is symbolic of winter because it happens during that time of year. Some people like to observe the snow accumulate in their garden, while others hate the idea of having to go through the cold that comes with snow.

On a few rare occasions, snow might happen in other seasons, especially autumn and spring. But it’s one of the main symbols of the winter, and the feelings that are connected to winter – cold, wind, and darkness.

> Read Also: Snow Metaphors

3. Flexibility

Snow might also symbolize something that’s flexible in nature. Snow changes, and it’s a permanent fixture that gets swept away by warm weather, sun, and rain. It’s also a soft material, so we can easily craft it and change it – which is how snowmen are made!

This ability to change and be flexible is why snow is hugely popular for winter sports. Skiers from all over the world flock to ski centers that offer great conditions to have fun, although this wouldn’t be possible without snow being a flexible material.

4. Fun and Youth

When we’re young, we often rejoice at the news that it’s about to snow. To many children, snow is this magical ingredient that just seems to brighten up their life. It enables so many fun things, such as skiing, creating snowmen, and having snow fights.

As we get older, we start to appreciate that snow is still beautiful to look at, although not as fun as it once was. It might even cause problems when we hit the road. But there’s still a child deep inside each of us, secretly waiting for snowfall!

5. Stillness

When snow falls, nature seems to quiet down and prepare itself to cope with the cold. It’s that magical moment that makes us appreciate what snow brings. Of course, this doesn’t happen in all areas of the world, especially not the ones where snowfall occurs with wind and storms.

But when it falls calmly, it’s one of the most beautiful moments to appreciate. 

> Read Also: Snowflake Symbolism

6. Hibernation

Every winter, nature prepares itself to face the cold and harsh reality of it. Leaves start falling off, and animals start to prepare food in order to hide and survive the cold. Snow is symbolic of that hibernation process that happens every winter.

Underneath the snow, there is no life because the conditions do not allow it. Many species also die because of the cold that comes with the snow, which is why it can also be a symbol of death.

7. Death

The meaning of death of the snow symbolism is commonly present, especially in literature. Sometimes, we connect snow to the meaning of death because nature goes to rest when the snow starts falling, and there is almost no life. It dawns on everyone, just like death, which will happen to anyone, whether poor or rich.

> Read Also: Death Symbolism

8. Frozen Emotions

Sometimes, snow is also symbolic of frozen and negative emotions. We especially consider snow to be a sign of cold emotions, such as sadness and anger. It’s interesting to observe this symbolic meaning of snow because it inspires so many different meanings in people.

For many, snow reminds them of the fun days they had in their childhood. On the other hand, the coldness and the dark nature of the weather when snow falls can also be symbolic of the negative emotions. 

9. Camouflage

Snow is often considered to be the camouflage of nature as it hides away the “ugliness” of a barren landscape. It acts as a sort of nature’s make-up to make things a bit more beautiful and appealing. 

Snow Symbolism in Literature

Snow is a popular symbolism in literature, and it’s widely used in many different meanings. It can symbolize purity, innocence, and frozen feelings. On the other hand, it can also symbolize death and sadness. Let’s take a look at some of the more well-known instances of snow symbolism in literature.

  • Snow is a common symbol of purity and innocence. Perhaps the most well-known instance of where snow is used like this is in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. Shakespeare makes use of snow to describe the main character, and to portray her innocence through snow: “I thought her as chaste as unsunned snow.” Other instances of snow as a symbol of purity include The Winter’s Tale and other works. 
  • Snow is often used as a symbol to portray negative feelings such as sadness, and sad events such as death. Often, it is used as a background element to portray and strengthen the feeling of sadness, as seen in Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome. Snow is used as a symbol of death in some works of James Joyce, too. Most notably, you can spot the snow symbolism of death in The Dead.
  • Snow has also been heavily romanticized to the point that it became known as a big symbol of Christmas. Charles Dickens was one of the first to use the symbolism of snow in this way – and it’s fair to say that it has caught on because we see snow used as a symbol of Christmas very often today. This symbolism can be observed in his work A Christmas Carol
  • Sometimes, snow is also very handy when poets want to portray their cold and frozen feelings and their emotions. It is a useful symbol that can strengthen the sad or depressed feelings of the writer. 

Snow Symbolism in Dreams

Have you dreamt about snow recently? Then there might be some very important meanings that you can uncover from those dreams, and these are some of the more common ones.

  • Playing in your dreams in snow denotes that you miss the fun aspect of your life and that you’re taking things a bit too seriously. Everyone has their own child inside them, and you should listen to this part of yourself more often because it will take the routine away and make you a bit more cheerful.
  • Walking alone in snow means that you’re feeling lonely and depressed at the moment. It denotes that you’re looking for ways to come out of these feelings and experience better emotions. However, snow is only temporary, and better times will come, although you have to remain patient.
  • Seeing snow falling from your room represents that you’re happy with your current situation. This can especially be true with your family life because you have a feeling of togetherness and homeliness when you come home. This is a pleasant dream to experience.
  • Getting caught in a snowstorm, on the other hand, means that you’re having a tough time in your life. You’re overwhelmed by your negative emotions that come quite often, which are reinforced by your negative feelings. Try to alter your negative thoughts in your mind and turn them into positive ones.
  • Making a snowman means that you’re either happy with your situation in life, or on the other hand, that you’re willing to do something new and create something from scratch on your own. You’re eager to try new things and develop something yourself that you would later be proud of.

Read Also: A List of Dream Metaphors and Idioms

Final Thoughts

Have you recently wondered about the meanings of the snow symbolism? The truth is that it can have several different meanings, so it can be quite hard to distinguish the right one for your situation.

In some cases, it might symbolize something pleasant and fun, which is commonly connected to your child inside of you. On the other hand, snow is sometimes seen as a negative symbol that denotes negative feelings inside of us. Because of this, snow is seen as one of the more ambiguous symbols that may have different meanings.