What does White Winter Hymnal mean?

Search Login

Fleet Foxes: White Winter Hymnal Meaning


No tags, suggest one.

Get "White Winter Hymnal" on MP3:

Get MP3 from Amazon
Get MP3 from iTunes

White Winter Hymnal Lyrics

I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the pack,
All swallowed in their coats
With scarves of red...


    click a star to vote
    Jan 18th, 2013 1:30pm report

    The song is ripe with references to the french revolution.
    "Swallowed in their coats" refers to the style of puffy coat that was popularized during the revolution
    "Scarves of red" refers to the red scarves or hats worn to show loyalty to the revolution and those who didn't, especially nobility, were executed, hence the "keep their heads" and the "White snow as strawberries".


    click a star to vote
    Jan 2nd, 2019 1:11am report

    I agree with the French Revolution bit, but not the Michael part. Remember that Michael is an angel, and he was supposed to be a warrior of some sort. He was a saint to many (including many French) people, and in one battle he was defeated but resurrected by god. Apparently he “fell” to earth, as in “And Michael you would fall” as if he were to fall, or if people were to stop fighting, they, too, would fall.


    click a star to vote
    Dec 19th, 2017 12:38am report

    The band states that this song is pretty lyrically meaningless, and that it's a favorite to perform due to how vague it is. It's not about death :P but this is how I think of it:

    I always think of a Shepard boy following herd of sheep - but maybe even wolves, since they say "pack" - They are wearing red scarves, maybe so he can see them better. He's following them to keep their heads from falling in the snow, but Michael, a sheep or wolf or whatever, is a sweet clumsy creature and he falls in the snow :) the snow is red because of the scarf. That's all :)


    click a star to vote
    Jul 7th, 7:47am report

    I believe that the way it is said and the meaning behind it is that of a biblical one. I believe that the red scarfs are the way that the lord might mark the sinners of the world and micheal the archangel is described as fallen because he was sent to reap those that are marked, (the sinners) and also that the white snow turned red is, as described in the bible, the blood of the sinners which is said to be an extremely large amount.


    click a star to vote
    Apr 22nd, 4:05pm report

    Not necessarily an interpretation, but the lyrics “with scarves of red Ted around their throats to keep their heads from falling in the snow” makes me think of that children’s scary story about the girl with a green ribbon tied around her neck, and when she was about to die she told her husband to untie it...and her head fell off. :)


    click a star to vote
    Apr 9th, 4:58am report

    It's crazy how this all brings us together to Express our opinions, I love reading through and typing my own theories,it really opens up my mind:)


    click a star to vote
    Apr 9th, 4:55am report

    I am certain it has something to do with the French revolution, as shown by the description of "All swallowed in their coats" referring to the puffy winter coats they wore, but I believe it was a specific time in the revolution. The invasion of Russia, it was the main battle fought by France in the snow. They also happened to have lost that war, this song could be the first person perspective of a soldier. "And I turn round and there you go and Micheal you would fall" these could be fellow soldiers around him dying, as Micheal turned the white as strawberries in the summertime, this was him being shot. France was well known in that era for having a great strawberry industry, which could explain the Frenchmans understanding and relationship with the colour. The invasion was a long trek which could refer to the man following the pack, as they marched to war. The Frenchmen were going through a time of stress, if anybody spoke up against the revolution, they were sent to the guillotine. This could explain the "with scarves of red wrapped round' their throats, to keep their little heads from falling in the snow" The intro also features repetition which could be all the soldiers singing together either before or after combat.


    click a star to vote
    Mar 24th, 3:11am report

    I think that it’s about the artists mental deterioration. hear me out.
    So the artist, as a youth, was “following the pack” meaning he was doing okay, just following the crowd and going through life. the “scarves of red” representing sanity and normalcy. this is to “keep their heads from falling in the snow” meaning slipping into depression and/or breaking the normalcy in life. during this period of time the artists brother passed away. so, as if in an instant, almost like he turned around, his brother was no longer with him. this would correspond with “michael you would fall” and his death would lead to the singers head “dropping in the snow” meaning the red scarf of sanity and normalcy had been taken off because of the tragic loss. this would make the snow “red as strawberries in the summertime” because it represents a death of sanity and normal life because of the death of michael.


    click a star to vote
    Mar 6th, 3:29pm report

    I recently went through the lyrics and found a deeper meaning. I was easy for me because I have seen this happen a lot recently with two of my friends. I think it´s a group of young children, all following each other throughout elementary school and being best friends until they get to middle or high school where they branch out and make new friends. The friends have been ¨dying¨ off and joining their own friend circles, and Micheal was somebody´s Best friend of sorts. Micheal ¨died¨, meaning he abandoned someone to follow the others until you broke off.

    The red scarfs could be the memories keeping friends barely together, until one breaks loose the memories and makes their own new ones.

    And the red blood (related to the red scarfs) could be the memories pouring out, reminding the others of your absence, and wishing you were there.

    So in a summary, my thoughts are the pack is a friend group, and Micheal ¨died¨ by making new friends, and red blood and red scarfs are related as memories, the scarfs keeping you together, and blood as the reminder of the ones you´ve lost.


    click a star to vote
    Jan 29th, 2020 1:04pm report

    Fleet Foxes says it was about a time his friends ditched him in middle school.


    click a star to vote
    Jan 5th, 2020 1:39pm report

    It was the main singers brother, Michael. I’m pretty sure he killed himself so when they say you turned the snow red like strawberries in the summer time it’s referring to Michael killing himself in the winter. It’s sad really


    click a star to vote
    Jan 1st, 2020 1:01pm report

    I agree that it may be about the revolution though I always thought it was about hanging people.


    click a star to vote
    Dec 24th, 2019 12:09pm report

    I just thought it was like an Alice and wonderland scenario where if the kids took of their scarf they’re head would fall off. So the blood would turn or red... this makes more sense though


    click a star to vote
    Dec 23rd, 2019 12:12pm report

    Although it may have been written one way with a meaning in mind the art transcends and comes to mean other things. Ansgogical.


    click a star to vote
    Dec 21st, 2019 12:18pm report

    I have always thought this song was talking about kids playing along with each other, and a kid named Micheal a child who had on a red scarf. Fell down and his head started to bleed, and when it said to keep their little heads from falling in the snow was just figuritive language, but anyway his head started to bleed and turned the white snow red.


    click a star to vote
    Dec 20th, 2019 12:56pm report

    I think it’s about red birds be happy people.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


    click a star to vote
    Dec 18th, 2019 12:25pm report

    I always pictured a pack of young foxes playing in the snow, and one of them clumsily leaps into a big pile of snow


    click a star to vote
    Dec 16th, 2019 12:21pm report

    I thought this was about the Soviet revolution and the execution of the people who opposed. Hence the red scarves round their throats the let people know that they supported the revolution. Also the coats thing, as they needed their fur coats to keep warm. Finally I think the snow red like strawberries in the summertime was like the people being killed and painting the snow red.

‹ prev 12345

More Fleet Foxes song meanings »


Submit Your Interpretation

[ want a different song? ]

Just Posted

Too Young anonymous
Amarillo By Morning anonymous
Rhiannon anonymous
I Think I'm Crazy anonymous
Forever anonymous
Lily anonymous
Instant Karma anonymous
Sunday Girl anonymous
Nine In The Afternoon anonymous
Darkside anonymous
Jesus in LA anonymous
I Refuse anonymous
Most Girls anonymous
I Built a Friend anonymous
Spiralling anonymous

Get a weekly email update

(We won't give out your email)

Latest Releases

Give Heaven Some Hell
I Should Probably Go To Bed
Dan + Shay
Talkin' Tennessee
Morgan Wallen
Taylor Swift
Cabin Fever
No Hold On Me
Matty Mullins
Battle Is The Lord's
Rebecca St. James
The 1
Taylor Swift