"If this is their idea of Christmas, I gotta be here for New Year's."This is one of those fairly rare occurrences when a story takes place at Christmas time or has some heavy Chistmassy elements to it but isn't about peace, good-will to all men, the birth of Christ, Ol' Saint Nick, or any of the usual trappings of a jolly old Christmas tale. In fact, with this trope the holiday setting has no bearing whatsoever on the story in question (except maybe for some added tension that all this chaos is happening when people should be celebrating). In fact, in most of these stories if it wasn't for the occasional appearance of a Christmas tree or some other decorations or music you'd most likely forget it's Christmas at all! For explosive action in a Christmas-y setting, it's An Ass-Kicking Christmas. For when it being Christmas is important, but not in a good way, see Twisted Christmas, Crappy Holidays, or Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday. Contrast Do They Know It's Christmas Time?.
— Argyle, Die Hard
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Anime and Manga
- The climax of Chrono Crusade takes place on Christmas Eve. This gets mentioned briefly a couple times, but the heroes are far too busy saving the world to hang up their stockings.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam the Battle of Solomon, featuring the iconic Mobile Armor Big Zam, takes place on Christmas Eve, though you could be forgiven for not noticing this.
- In The Golden Age, the opening of Tex Thompson's secret diary, which reveals the secrets of both Thompson and Dynaman, takes place around Christmas, with Joan Dale interrupting Lance Gallant and Paula Brooks' intimacy to bring the secret to light.
- In The Walking Dead, Dale off-handedly notes to Rick that, by counting the days, they've guessed that it is Christmas Eve. Rick angrily tells him not to spread it around, as he doesn't want to disappoint his already traumatized son.
- X-Men does this quite a bit. Several issues bring up the holiday but mainly just as background scenery, especially in Chris Claremont and John Byrne's run.
- #98 starts off during Christmas, but any Christmas tropes related to it are quickly forgotten when the Sentinels attack. After that it quickly moves past the holiday by at least a couple days and has the arc move on for a few more issues, ending with the famous moment where Jean is transformed into the Phoenix.
- #119, despite being titled "The Night Before Christmas," only takes place on the day at the very end, and most of it is focused on the team stopping a terrorist in Japan.
- #143, Byrne's final issue, only brings up the holiday early on despite the entire issue actually taking place on Christmas Eve this time. You'd be forgiven for forgetting it with the story focusing on Kitty Pryde/Spryte trying to survive a demon from another dimension that's invaded the mansion while she's alone.
- The American President takes place over a two-month period, from November through early January, setting the stage for the State of the Union address and an upcoming election year. There is a scene set in the White House Christmas party (and earlier, Sydney Ellen Wade's mention of Frank Capra prompts a mention of It's a Wonderful Life) but apart from that it's not really a holiday movie.
- The Apartment takes place around Christmas and New Year's, but the holidays don't have much to do with the story other than to underscore the emptiness of the characters' lives.
- The Black Hole includes a few sentences in the opening speech about it being Christmas (the novelization mentions special food), and when the Cygnus's lights come on they're described as a "tree lit up on Christmas morning". But then it's not mentioned again. Somewhat justified by being in space, and the majority of it taking place on a ship long out of contact with earthly calendars.
- Brazil presents the perfect Christmas present: a decision making machine for business executives! Good to know that your odds of being fired on a whim are a solid 50/50.
- Comfort And Joy takes place during Christmastime, but really has nothing at all to do with the holiday. Move the story to any other time of the year and nothing would change... Except perhaps that the audience might not get the "sanity clause" joke.
- Die Hard and Die Hard 2 would probably be the most famous example of this trope, in that other than a few mentions of the holiday (and quite a few decorations) here and there, it's all-out action and senseless violence in direct juxtaposition to what the season's all about. And, it came out in the middle of July!
"Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho."
- The second one is kind of more blatant about using this trope. That it's the Christmas travel week is almost like an afterthought while McClane is taking down Colonel Stuart.
- It's actually somewhat justified in the first film. The Christmas holiday is the reason John is visiting his estranged wife in the first place. And the Christmas holiday is why the Nakatomi employees are partying in a mostly empty building.
- Diner takes place during the last week of 1959, from Christmas to New Year's Eve, but nothing seems to be made much of it by the characters. Justified, however, since the major characters are Jewish and don't celebrate it.
- Much of Edward Scissorhands takes place at Christmastime, but it's not a particularly Christmassy film by any stretch.
- Eyes Wide Shut takes place during Christmas, as evident by the occasional Christmas tree in the background.
- First Blood is another film where Christmas decorations are visible in several scenes, although no mention of the holiday is ever made by the characters.
- The decorations were put up by the town they were shooting in, but the director decided to leave them in because it did a good job of subtly reminding the viewer that Rambo's on the run during a very cold time of year in just a wifebeater and jeans.
- The French Connection apparently takes place at Christmas or close to it. The first time we see Popeye Doyle he's working undercover as a sidewalk Santa.
- Full Metal Jacket. "Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Jesus, happy birthday to you."
- Go takes place on Christmas Eve, but the holiday really doesn't figure into its story (or, rather, its stories).
- Gremlins is mostly set on Christmas Eve, but the film is mostly about killing monsters.
- In The Hateful 8 mention is made of Joe Gage wanting to pass the holidays with his mother, and Señor Bob plays (badly) "Silent Night" on the piano. That's it. And everything "Joe Gage" says during the film is a lie anyway.
- Holiday presumably begins on Christmas Day, given the two carols sung during the church scene, but none of the characters wish each other "Merry Christmas" or otherwise acknowledge it in any way.
- The Holiday takes place during the last two weeks of December, but apart from a few brief mentions, Christmas has pretty much nothing to do with the plot.
- Hook has Peter Pan's kids getting kidnapped on what may very well have been Christmas Day. Ouch.
- Iron Man 3 is set around Christmas, but the holiday has little bearing on the plot. Though it must be admitted that Tony trudging through the middle of nowhere hauling his broken armor would lose something without the snow.
- It's a Wonderful Life is unequivocally considered one of the essential "Christmas movies", even though nearly all of it is spent showing How We Got Here and what would have happened if George hadn't been born; using the holiday as a Framing Device really only serves to make things extra warm and fuzzy for the final scene.
- Jurassic World takes place during the Christmas season, a fact that's only made clear in the first couple scenes where there's snow on the ground and Tony Bennett singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" in the background. Once the movie shifts to Isla Nublar, there are no further hints of anything Christmas-y.
- The James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service is set around Christmas. Notably, Blofeld places an ornament on a Christmas tree during the mandated Evil Gloating scene and distributes Christmas gifts containing his Virus Omega dispensers to his brainwashed beauties. Also, the Winter festival scene where Bond and Theresa escape from Blofeld's goons to the tune of "Do You Know Where Christmas Trees Are Born"
- The final act of Peter Jackson's King Kong occurs during the winter, and includes a scene in a park where all of the trees are covered in Christmas lights. No other reference is made to the holiday season.
- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is set around Christmas, and opens with Harry in New York while it's snowing, trying to steal a toy for his niece. The only real sign of it once the story moves to LA are some decorations and girls in Sexy Santa Dress.
- Lady in the Lake: Set at Christmastime, seemingly for no other reason than to provide an ironic counterpoint to a Film Noir story of betrayal and murder. A hard-nosed cop gets distracted from his interrogation of Philip Marlowe when the cop's daughter calls the office and starts reciting "Twas the Night Before Christmas" over the phone. The opening credits are presented as a stack of Christmas cards picked up one at a time, eventually revealing a gun at the bottom. Marlowe interrupts an office Christmas party to accuse the woman organizing the party of murder.
- Similarly, Last Holiday does include the celebration of New Year's Eve, but isn't too heavily related to the holiday; it has more to do with the celebration of the protagonist's life, which is drawing to a very premature close (or so she thinks).
- The first Lethal Weapon movie takes place at Christmas, as is shown by the tree in Murtaugh's house and the complete destruction of a large stack of eggnog cartons in an action scene. During the climax, the villain shoots a TV playing the Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol and declares, "I hate Christmas!" Plus, the first scene with Mel Gibson shows a drug dealer using a Christmas tree lot as a front for his real business.
- Most of Mon Oncle Antoine takes place over Dec. 23-24, but that has little relevance to the story, except for the increased business coming to Antoine's general store for the holiday.
- Moonstruck was shot during the Christmas season in New York, and lights and trees are visible in a number of the outdoor scenes, but the holidays really don't figure into the narrative at all.
- Nobody's Fool starts off around Thanksgiving and goes through Christmas, but we never see any sort of celebration (the closest is when Wacker causes a disturbance on Thanksgiving by running into dining room table while he's naked and knocking down all the food, and Birdie does decorate the bar for Christmas).
- The Odessa File is a political thriller about a German reporter trying to find a former Nazi concentration camp commandant in 1963. The movie opens on November 22, 1963 (the day of John F. Kennedy's assassination) with said reporter (Jon Voight) driving through streets lined with Christmas decorations as Perry Como's song "Christmas Dream" plays over the credits.
- Pocketful of Miracles, the 1961 remake of Lady for a Day, takes place at Christmas time, but the only clue to this is the presence of some decorations in the hallway of the fancy hotel where Apple Annie gets her letter.
- Prometheus is actually set at Christmas time and captain Janek even sets up a Christmas tree. It has nothing to do with the plot and nobody else cares.
- The Proposition is set at and around Christmas - with a climax at a Christmas Day dinner - but being an extremely violent drama set in colonial Australia, has neither the tone nor the iconography of a Christmas film. This is lampshaded when Emily Watson's character, an English rose transposed to the outback, holds up a piece of white wool and says "Look. Snow." But for plot purposes, Christmas could just as easily have been substituted for "next Sunday".
- Psycho begins on "Friday, December the Eleventh" according to an onscreen graphic during the opening shot, and Christmas decorations can be seen in downtown Phoenix as Janet Leigh's character leaves town. However, no further allusion to the holiday is made although the film's narrative extends later into the month.
- This was a case of Serendipity Writes the Plot, since they didn't notice there were Christmas decorations in their on-location takes until after filming had concluded, and then they just mentioned it was mid-December in the opening to properly compensate.
- RoboCop 3 begins around the time of Christmas, as an armed robber enters into a doughnut shop with some Christmas decorations put up and the song "Here Comes Santa Claus" playing in the background — and the doughnut shop is full of cops.
- A few of the Rocky movies take place over Christmas. The original and V both have scenes taking place during the holiday, while Rocky's match with Ivan Drago in IV takes place on Christmas Day, but other than that it's inconsequential to any movie in the series.
- The Sure Thing features college students during winter break... still partying it up at college and throwing a Tahitian-themed Christmas party.
- Three Days of the Condor. It seems that wherever Condor goes in New York, there is a Salvation Army Christmas Caroling squad nearby.
- Toy Story ends on Christmas day to set a Brick Joke and a Here We Go Again scene at the end, not dealing with usual Christmas tropes beyond a kiss under the mistletoe.
- Most of the first Artemis Fowl book takes place on the night of Christmas Eve or before dawn on Christmas Day. The first time this gets mentioned in the story is on the last page (Not counting the epilogue).
- From the Jane Austen canon, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma all contain scenes which take place over the Christmas season, but it has next to no bearing on any of their plots. The closest it comes is in Emma, in which it's mentioned that the bad weather gives Emma an excuse not to go to church on Christmas after the minister's uncomfortable overtures to her in the carriage a few days prior. To be fair, that's because many trappings of the 'traditional' Christmas are Newer Than They Think, and the more raucous old customs of the season wouldn't have been practiced around Austen's carefully brought-up heroines. The one effect it would have had would be that, as now, extended families would come together (especially significant in times when they otherwise might only have contact by letter for months on end.)
- The Baby-Sitters Club has an in-universe example with one of Charlotte Johanson's favorite stories. When Charlotte initially reads the story to Stacey, it seems like a story about a lost dog. It isn't until Stacey sees the pictures, virtually all of which contain trees or other decorations, that she realizes it was supposed to be a Christmas story.
- Harry Potter: Given the fact that each book takes place over the course of one school year, the narrative always at least mentions Christmas in passing.
- Richard Matheson's horror novel Hell House takes place between December 18 and December 24, but the only mention of the holiday comes in the very last sentence of the story, when one of the characters wishes another a merry Christmas. (The film adaptation The Legend of Hell House keeps the same datespan, but omits any reference to Christmas at all.)
- The novel version of The Hunt for Red October takes place during Christmastime. The only serious Christmas related event is a brief mention of Ryan going out to buy presents for his kids.
- The novel version of Patriot Games has the prisoner transport (And subsequent breakout) of Sean Miller happen on Christmas Day, while Jack and his wife celebrate the holiday in a more traditional manner on the other side of the Atlantic.
- In Les Misérables, Jean Valjean first meets his adopted daughter-to-be, little Cosette, on Christmas Eve. This has no bearing on the plot beyond giving him an excuse to give the little girl her first gift, a beautiful doll she's been pining for, as well as symbolic significance of new beginnings and hope (a la the birth of Christ) for them both. The Christmas setting of this sequence is omitted in the stage version of the popular musical adaptation, but restored in the film version.
- In Herman Melville's Moby-Dick the initial launching of the Pequod is done on Christmas as referenced by the fact that the chapter in which it happens is called "Merry Christmas." However, the fact that it is Christmas is mentioned only once within the actual chapter.
- In Murderess, Lu spends the period between September 1st, 2011 and January 17th, 2012 in England, but never so much as mentions any holidays and barely even mentions the weather, despite it being the coldest in the UK in 100 years. Apparently, she is just that apathetic.
- Christmas is mentioned at least once in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, as the time that Milkman Dead decides to break off his relationship with his second cousin Hagar as he finds that it's getting stale and Hagar seems to want something more from him.
- In A Yellow Raft In Blue Water, the funeral of Christine Taylor's brother Lee takes place around Christmas, as Christine and her friend Dayton Nickles both go to a restaurant in the Montana area that still has its Christmas decorations put up. There's also a brief mention of a Christmas that Ida George (Christine's adoptive mother) has with her family around the time that her aunt Clara announces she's pregnant.
Live Action TV
- Cold Case: In "Sabotage", getting scammed after buying a defective shower radio is the straw that breaks the camel's back for the episode's villain and sends him in his Roaring Rampage of Revenge. It's also during Christmas, but that has no bearing on the plot.
- Doctor Who:
Naismith: Ladies and gentlemen, Christmas is cancelled!
- "The End of Time": Part 1 was broadcast on Christmas (and the second on New Year's). Unlike all of the previous Christmas specials, which had been quite Christmassy, this one barely even mentions it. It's even lampshaded:
- Likewise "The Snowmen" three years later, following two even more Christmassy Christmas specials. To the point that the Other Wiki's synopsis doesn't even mention that it's set on Christmas Eve, because it's totally irrelevant.
- "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" sets a new record for "least-Christmassy Christmas special", as only the opening scene, where eight-year-old Grant meets the Doctor and accidentally gets superpowers, is set at Christmastime. The rest of it appears to take place in the spring or summer, about twenty years later.
- The Kraft Suspense Theatre episode "Are There Any More Out There Like You?" takes place at Christmas time to ironically drive home that the protagonist's family is falling apart.
- An early Leave It to Beaver episode has Beaver losing his barbershop money and getting Wally to cut his hair in an attempt to keep his parents from finding out. At the very end of the episode, we see the Beav wearing an angel costume and singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" at a school pageant...after no prior mention of Christmas in the whole episode!
- During the season 4 Lost episode "The Constant" the characters only find out it's Christmas Eve when they spot the date on a calendar, being too busy with much more important things.
- The West Wing's Christmas episodes tended to be tellingly named and heavily decorated and feature a carol here and there, but the actual plots could have belonged to any episode — in contrast to the Anvilicious Thanksgiving storylines (a boatload of Chinese refugees seeking freedom to practice Christianity in the U.S.; representatives from a Native tribe staging a sit-in in the White House to protest the government's treatment of their issues).
- The only Christmassy thing about the Frankie Goes to Hollywood song "The Power of Love" is the music video, which depicts the story of the Nativity.
- Although it takes place on Christmas Eve, The Pogues' "Fairytale of New York" is actually not about celebrating Christmas at all. It is more about the eroding of dreams and the people you've come to hate (but are stuck with). The British keep voting it "Best Christmas Song" in various polls. Something about being stuck with family resonates with us, we think.
- "Breathe Again" by The Reign of Kindo is about a man who chases down and brutally murders a thief who broke in and robbed his house on Christmas Eve. Add in some Lyrical Dissonance due to such dark lyrics set to a slow, jazzy melody, and this might be in the running for darkest Christmas song ever.
- The Wham! song "Last Christmas", apart from the title and some jingle bells, has nothing to do with the holiday. You could have substituted "Last Arbor Day" if you could have gotten some trees to rattle together properly.
- Strangely used in all places in The Bible itself. Though in its case, it's the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which in the gospel of John is mentioned as the Feast of Dedication, which Jesus and the Jews celebrate, but is eclipsed by Jesus having another discussion with the Jews about His being the Messiah.
- The first and second acts of La Bohème take place on Christmas Eve. This has no bearing on the plot apart from adding a cold, wintery atmosphere to Act I and a festive atmosphere to the street scenes of Act II.
- The Lion in Winter, oh so very much.
Henry II: What shall we hang... the holly, or each other?
- The entire first act of La Boheme's contemporary musical adaptation RENT takes place on Christmas Eve and into the early hours of Christmas morning. The second act starts a week later on New Year's Eve and plays out over the course of the year, with the finale once again on Christmas Eve. As in Boheme aside from it needing to be winter to set up Mimi and Roger's meeting (her heat went out), the holiday doesn't play into the plot very much.
- In AMY, despite the fact that the game takes place on Christmas Eve, there's no snow and no other reference to the holiday beyond the conversation between the train conductor and Lana (who subsequently gives Amy the digital drawing pad as a present) at the beginning of the game.
- Batman: Arkham Origins takes place over Christmas Eve (and eventually crosses over into day once it goes past midnight) but aside from seeing decorations in the scenery and Alfred bringing up Christmas dinner at a few points, it doesn't play too much into things.
- Bayonetta 2 happens during Christmas eve. Rodin dresses up for the season as Santa.
- Condemned: Criminal Origins has a level set in a mega-store which is decrepit and abandoned. From the décor and the faint ghostly music you can hear playing, it's evident that the store closed down one Christmas. This is arguably one of the most atmospheric levels of the game largely due to the out of place Xmas setting.
- The PC adventure game Darkstone has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. It therefore remains unexplained how Santa Claus ends up in the world of the game and must be rescued from one of the higher-level dungeons.
- Though The Firemen takes place on Christmas day, outside of your partner's complaining and occasional Christmas trees or other decorations around the building it has no real effect on the plot.
- In Ghost Trick, we can see that Lynne has Christmas decorations in her apartment, and there are other hints scattered about, but no one ever comments on it.
- The prologue of Grand Theft Auto V takes place sometime around Christmas (as evidenced by a Christmas tree and several decorations), while the protagonists are robbing a rural bank blind. This is justified in that a near-deserted bank during the holidays would make crowd control vastly easier.
- Both Kyle Hyde games are set around this general period. Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is set on the evening of December 28, 1979 and the sequel Last Window covers the period of December 18-26, 1980. Other than a Pet the Dog moment in Hotel Dusk and the Christmas Tree in the corner of Lucky's Café in Last Window, it doesn't play much of a role at all in terms of the overall story. However, the Christmas presents Kyle receives in Last Window prove essential for advancing the story.
- One Dungeon Town in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time seems to have been in the midst of celebrating Christmas when the Shroobs invaded. If nothing else, it provides for some Mood Dissonance.
- In Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness, there are wreaths and colored light strings hanging up in the small Icelandic fishing village where Nancy is investigating a disappearance. Neither Nancy nor anyone else mentions them, and some notes Nancy sorts through suggest in passing that it's actually early January when she arrives: Icelanders just tend to leave their holiday decorations up until Epiphany, in part because it's so gloomy there in mid-winter that any excuse to brighten the long nights is a relief.
- Parasite Eve is a great example of getting to watch the good people of Manhattan celebrate Xmas 1996 through spontaneous combustion and mass melting.
- The fourth case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney begins on Christmas Day. The characters themselves don't make much notice of this until partially into the case, where it finally hits them that everything that's happening is happening on Christmas.
- Rabbids Go Home takes place in late November and early December, according to the dates on the security-cam footage. It's used as the basis for a Surprise Santa Encounter, and one Christmas Level. However, most of the work is not exceptionally Christmassy.
- Raw Danger is a sequel to Disaster Report which is all about a city flooding and the peoples attempt to escape alive. The Xmas themes are pretty heavy with stores around the city all playing xmas music and decorations being all over the place, plus at the start of the game you are working as a waiter at a big fancy party that has a costumed santa clause walking around entertaining the guests. Other than cosmetic themes though the fact its Christmas seems to be purely incidental.
- The only indication that Snatcher takes place on December is the billboards and stock Christmas music that plays in the downtown street scene. Later on, you find one of your contacts disguised in a Santa costume.
- Hideo Kojima also did this in Policenauts, possibly as a reference to Snatcher, or perhaps to make Beyond Coast's perpetual summer more surreal to the American characters.
- According to the manual of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, the events of the game take place between the 24th and 25th of December, 1999. There's little reference to this other than the name of Holly White and her asking Snake to take her out to Christmas dinner.
- Virtue's Last Reward begins with the main character being kidnapped on Christmas Eve, and although he isn't sure how long he's been asleep when he finally comes to during the Nonary Game, he generally believes it to be Christmas Day. A few conversations take note of this, but the game isn't Christmas-themed.
- The first two games in the Yakuza series take place in December of 2005 and 2006 respectively. You have to look pretty hard to see it but there are a few decorations and one or two stores play Xmas tunes. "Amazing Grace" plays over the credits of the first game, while "Silent Night" plays over the credits of the second. The third and fourth games avert this tradition, but it returns in the fifth game which takes place around Christmas of 2012, with several Christmas decorations and songs being played throughout. Saejima even gets to beat up some thugs while wearing a Santa suit (and can even crush them with a Christmas tree).
- DuckTales (2017) has an episode where Louie complains about the fact the group is spending Christmas on an expedition to climb Mount Neverrest instead of at Scrooge's mansion waiting for Santa. Scrooge tells him that Santa won't visit the mansion anyway thanks to a Noodle Incident that Scrooge was involved in. Aside from this exchange, the holiday isn't mentioned or seen at all.