We snowboarders love nothing better than that first snowfall of fall or winter.
It signals the start of 5 months – late November until late April – of potentially constant snowboarding!
But some years… the snow just doesn’t seem to fall.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ll often to pace around at home, begging whatever powers may be for more snow. Is that weird?
Anyway, this got me thinking… who were the mythical snow gods and goddesses?
Are we all missing a trick by not sending the odd prayer to the gods of snow?
Let’s take a look!
1 - Ullr – Norse God Of Archery And Snow
Perhaps the most famous of the snow gods… especially amongst snowboarders and skiers! Ullr is one of the gods of the Norse pantheon (though admittedly some scholars contest that).
People either know him as the stepson of Thor (the god of Thunder) and Son of Sif (the goddess of Earth) OR as a very skilled skier and hunter, who was incredible with a bow – even in the depths of winter.
Is Ullr The God Of Skiing and Snowboarding?
A lot of people within the winter sports community will now wear a medallion of Ullr for protection and good luck.
There are even festivals held in the god’s honor at ski resorts throughout January!
The most famous is in Breckenridge, Colorado, known as Ullr Fest, which is a week-long celebration of the god and of snow in general.
Originally started in 1963, it has become a yearly tradition and has spread to winter towns all over the country.
So is Ullr the official god of winter sports?
I’ll let you decide at the end of this article.
2 - Skaði – Norse God Of Skiing, Winter, And Mountains
Skaði was a goddess of the Norse and Viking peoples. She is also sometimes referred to as the goddess of snowshoeing!
This is due to her fondness for winter and traveling through it. I can relate to that!
She was an incredibly skilled hunter and was able to move through even the most destructive blizzard with ease.
Although she was a snow god, she was also a Jötunn or – as they are known in English – a Frost Giant. These were believed to be one of the races that existed alongside the gods themselves.
Her father was the shape-shifting Frost Giant Thiazi and when the gods killed him – thanks to Loki’s trickery – Skaði sought vengeance against the gods!
Such was her might and such was their regret at killing her father, that the gods tried to placate her with compensation and atonement.
In the terms of the agreement, she chose a husband from among the gods, settling on Njörðr (as well as some other provisions as well).
She was also the goddess who hung the snake above Loki’s head, the falling of which would cause earthquakes!
3 - Boreas – Greek God Of The Cold North Wind And Bringer Of The Winter Season
Very much like the weather he is named after, Boreas is a Greek god who is attractive and incredibly strong… but can have a terrible temper.
Sounds like my wife (joking, please don’t tell her I said that!)
Although prayed to by the Greek people in ancient times, he was not really considered a part of a particular Greek pantheon.
Instead, he was considered a relative of the gods, who resided in the off land of Hyperborea (according to the Romans) or in Thrace.
As one of the gods of the four seasons, he was incredibly powerful. When he came down from the Thracian mountains to bring snow and icy wind, everyone felt it.
For this reason, he’s one of the snow gods people pray to for heavy snowfall (Japan must be in his favour!)
The most well known of these supposed deeds is when Boreas was credited with wrecking the Persian fleet of Xerxes in Sepias, stopping the Persian invasion of Greece, via a bitter storm.
However, his rage landed Boreas in trouble many times, so if you choose to worship him, be warned about the possible consequences!
4 - Chione – Greek Goddess Of Snow
While her brethren were demigods, Chione became a full goddess, the goddess of snow in fact.
Her life is not well documented, but there are depictions of her with her sons and siblings at points.
For some time, she was also a consort of Poseidon and bore him a son… but discarded him into the ocean for fear of the sea god’s reaction.
She tended to live a solitary life at the top of mountains and when disturbed by unwelcome guests, she was known to turn them into ice sculptures or bury them under a snow drift. Don’t mess with Chione!
5 - Heikki Lunta – The Finnish-Michiganite God Of Snow
The Finnish people have always had their own gods and faith, very much separate from their Lutheran and Orthodox neighbors.
When large numbers of people from Finland emigrated to the United States, the vast majority settled in Upper Michigan or Minnesota.
Upper Michigan particularly has a strong Finnish presence, with native Finns being the largest ethnic group.
When the people started noticing the huge annual snowfall in the area, they attributed it to the Finnish god of snow. The new residents of Michigan named them Heikki Lunta (or Hank Snow).
However, Heikki Lunta was not spoken of much until the year 1970.
The legend goes that in 1970, an annual snowmobile race of the Range Snowmobile Club of Atlantic Mine was in danger of being canceled due to lack of snow…
A worker at the WMPL Radio station (David Ruitta) aired a song called the ‘Heikki Lunta Snowdance Song’ to convince the god to make it snow…
After the song, the snow began to fall and the race was saved!
However, too much snow fell and there was public outcry that David’s song had gone too far, forcing him to make a separate track called ‘Heikki Lunta go away’ to make it stop.
6 - The Hag Of Beara – Gaelic Goddess And The Queen Of Winter
If you grew up in the far reaches of Ireland, you’ll know of the Hag of Beara (or the Old Women of Dingle or An Chailleach Bhéara).
She is the product of many legends and storytellings over the years.
She is said to have gone from many periods of youth, to then being a crone, a nun and ultimately a divine hag.
She is now known as a mysterious creator and deity who follows her own rules.
Rumour has it that the above rock is actually the remains of the Hag… waiting by the ocean for the return of her husband.
Legends about her were even around before the old Celtic gods and have continued through the introduction of Christianity and into the modern day.
If you go to the Beara Peninsula during the winter months, it is said you may even see her collecting wood.
Her sons and their sons are said to have risen to become the leaders of the most prominent Irish clans, and even Saint Cummine gifted her a veil.
Throughout Ireland, she is thought to bring winter.
On February 1st, every year, she will gather firewood for the rest of winter. If she wants the winter to be longer and stretch into spring, she will make that day bright and sunny.
7 - Morana – Slavic Goddess Of Death, Rebirth, And Winter
Another ancient goddess, like the Hag of Beara, that has survived into the modern day.
Morana comes to life at the beginning of winter and begins a cycle of death and dreams.
These give way to rebirth in the spring, with her own death and the rebirth of the spring goddess Kostroma in Russia, or Lada or Vesna in other Slavic countries.
Her association with death and spirituality puts on par with the western idea of the Grim Reaper. She spends the summer in hell, but stalks the land during winter. Creepy huh?
Nonetheless, hers is a necessary job and allows an inevitable cycle to cotinue.
I guess if she’s in charge of bringing the winter each year, then us wintersports enthusiasts owe her our gratitude (ignoring the death part).
8 - Itztlacoliuhqui – Aztec God Of Frost
Good luck pronouncing this one!
It may surprise winter sports enthusiasts that there is even an Aztec god of frost… considering that the Aztec realm was in modern day Mexico, a famously hot country.
But even Mexico can get cold.
Though it may not bring the frozen wastelands of the northern climes, it can still cause devastation.
A frost in Mexico can kill all plants and makes the land barren. This explains why the Aztecs feared this god so much!
Itztlacoliuhqui is known as the god of frost, misery, death, and lifelessness.
His name literally translates to ‘plant killer frost’.
We recommend only praying to this cheerful character if you need to get out of something dreadful the next day. You don’t want that much frost on the slopes!
9 - Khoa (Or Qhoa) – Incan God Of Rain, Storms, And Hail
Khoa is not your typical deity.
In fact, Khoa is a winged giant cat or feline that lives in the sky. They can bring storms, rain, snow, rainbows, and hail.
They are the closest deity the Incas had to a snow god. This is peculiar as the Incas lived on mountain tops and ranges… So were likely familiar with wintery conditions.
This god was an important one for the Incas and was seen as extremely benevolent.
The areas around the Incan Empire were quite arid and the rains Khoa brought helped immensely with crop growth.
However, Khoa could also become enraged and rain down punishments on the Inca – which, really, we expect no less from a cat god.
These punishments could come in the form of hail and snow, stunting the growth of crops and hurting the people.
If you want to invoke this god’s power, you would need to make it angry. However, do this at your own risk, as Khoa was said to be pretty ferocious!
10 - Old Man Winter/Jack Frost – The Personification Of Winter
If you can’t think of a god to invoke (or simply don’t want to risk it), you could always pray to winter itself!
The ideas of both Old Man Winter and Jack Frost are the amalgamation of many beliefs across the United States.
The native peoples and the successive waves of immigrants coming over each had their own beliefs about winter. This includes our old friends the Hag of Beara, Ullr, and Boreas.
However, the actual incarnation of Old Man Winter comes from the Pottawatomie people of the Western Great Lakes region.
Although not a deity, Old Man Winter featured prominently in their legends. Over time and with the introduction of other deities, people slowly began to see Old Man Winter as the personification of winter.
While still not a snow god, he was now on par with one!
11 - Despoina – The Greek Goddess Of Winter And Frost
Although Despoina is more well-known (and potentially more powerful) than Boreas and Chione, she does not rank higher on this snow gods list.
Because her blessings may not necessarily give you snow!
She is a goddess of winter and frost, more than necessarily just snow. Nobody wants to ski or snowboard on just frost!
She is the daughter of Demeter and Poseidon. Her conception happened as Demeter fled Poseidon in the form of a mare, while he pursued her as a stallion.
This event enraged Demeter and caused a global famine, before she bore the children Despoina and Arion.
She is an important figure in Greek history for her cult, the Cult of Despoina, a cult that explored the importance of nature and animals.
While you could pray to her for snow, you may receive more ice than you bargained for!
12 - Poli’ahu – The Hawaiian Goddess Of Snow
When measured from the peak to the bottom of the seafloor actually makes it the world’s tallest mountain! Move over Everest!
Considered the most beautiful of Hawaii’s goddesses, as well as one of the most gracious, Poli’ahu’s beauty and grace only go so far… when you cross her you will know it.
When Poli’ahu fell in love with a noble called Aiwohikupua, he insisted on taking her home and making her his bride on Kaua’i.
However, once there, she discovered he was already engaged to a princess of Maui!
In dismay and anger, she drove the girl away, but not before freezing Aiwohikupua to death.
Similarly, she regularly battles the volcano god Pele, one of Hawaii’s most powerful gods, with neither besting the other.
Poli’ahu is one of the best gods to drop some snow on the slopes. But just make sure you pay her the due respect and don’t try to trick her.
13 - Tengliu – The Chinese Goddess Of Winter
China has a long and storied history.
There have been many different religions and hundreds of different cultures.
However, the primordial creator god that is rumored to have basically created everything was the god Pan Gu. This being hatched from a cosmic egg in the void of nothingness before time.
Pan Gu then created the earth and the sky, a feat taking over 18,000 years. He subsequently died, his body becoming the basis for all other life and gods after his death (for example, his blood became rivers and his head the mountains).
The gods and goddesses that came after became everything about their respective element.
Introducing the goddess of snow, Tengliu. She defines the element and features heavily in Chinese myth and culture, mainly in songs, fu, and sculptures.
Tengliu might just be the god you need when the snow ain’t falling!
14 - Kuraokami – The Japanese Shinto God Of Ice, Rain, Snow, And Winter And A Japanese Dragon
Japanese religious history is also storied and long, with the dominant religion in the country being Shinto.
In Shinto, the two creator deities of Japan and its islands are Izanagi and Izanami. These two gods were responsible for the Japanese world and were worshiped regularly.
When Izanami gave birth to their son, the fire god Kagutsuchi, she died during labor, being burned to death.
Blinded by grief and pain, Izanagi beheaded his infant son, causing the creation of the volcanoes of Japan. From his corpse rose other deities, including the snow god Kuraokami
Kuraokami is still considered a powerful god to this day. Despite being a warm country, Japan’s snowfalls are some of the heaviest in the world!
If you are looking for snowfall to appear suddenly and heavily, Kuraokami is a good god to pray to!
15 - Shakok – A Native American God Of Winter Of The Northern Mountain
Considered more of a winter spirit, Shakok still contains immense power and features in many prominent legends of the Acoma people.
Co-chin-ne-na-ko, daughter of a chief of the Acoma, married Shakok, but after he stayed with her tribe, the daily weather became constantly cold, too cold to grow food or eat.
One day Co-chin-ne-na-ko ran into Miochin, the spirit of summer, who offered her corn. Deciding that she preferred Miochin, Co-chin-ne-na-ko begged him to stay.
When Shakok returned, they both fought, which ended in a truce. The two spirits decided to share Co-chin-ne-na-ko for half the year, which gives us the seasons of summer and winter.
Shakok is not necessarily an evil spirit. However he is described as cold and vengeful at points, so praying to him might be more trouble than it’s worth!
Now you know who to blame when the snow isn’t falling!
Additionally, if the snowboard season has had a slow start… you could try a snow dance or asking a favor from one of our snow gods.
But make sure you are praying to the right one!
While most of these gods will try to help you out, a couple are as cold as the winter season itself.
Once the snow does start to fall… it’s time to book a trip to one of these snowy destinations!