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[[quoteright:251:[[Webcomic/PennyArcade http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/jesus-explains-christmas_2573.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:266:[[http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2003/12/12/ It's really not very complicated.]]]]

->''"Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!"''\\
''"Sure, Charlie Brown. I can tell you what Christmas is all about..."''
-->-- '''Charlie Brown and Linus''', ''WesternAnimation/ACharlieBrownChristmas''

What is the True Meaning Of Christmas? A [[StockAesop common]], yet ambiguous theme in {{Christmas Special}}s (episodes, films, stories, etc.), usually answered with AnAesop.

In fiction the "True Meaning of Christmas" is often (though not always) "''better to give than to receive''." That is the most common Aesop, especially in kid's shows, but also sitcoms, etc. It's often [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] with those exact words when MrExposition sums it all up at the end.

However, the most memorable and popular of "Christmas specials" almost always have a different "True Meaning of Christmas" For example:

* ''WesternAnimation/ACharlieBrownChristmas'' goes with the original, religious True Meaning of Christmas: [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKk9rv2hUfA a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, as in "Christ's Mass".]]
* ''Film/ItsAWonderfulLife'' is about how people's lives can touch one another, and people can change the world for the better. The [[YetAnotherChristmasCarol countless incarnations]] of ''Literature/AChristmasCarol'' typically feature this message, as well.
* ''Film/MiracleOnThirtyFourthStreet'' also seems to avoid the "better to give than to receive" Aesop in favor of the power of faith/belief.
* ''WesternAnimation/RudolphTheRedNosedReindeer'' is an Aesop about tolerance and/or acceptance (see AllOfTheOtherReindeer).
* ''Film/AChristmasStory'' is about the joy of a child at receiving gifts, and the memories of being with family.

Those are probably the five "staple" movies of the Christmas season, in that they get shown year after year after year (on an endless repeating loop too). Yet none of them uses the most common "Christmas special" Aesop.

You may have also heard the True Meaning of Christmas is being with your loved ones, worshipping Jesus celebrating the memory of His birth, shopping, worshiping Odin, worshiping Mithras, having an orgy, praying for winter to end, or [[SoapboxSadie using holiday traditions (most of which you've appropriated from other religions) to lure people into converting to Christianity (starting with the people from whom you've appropriated those traditions so that they lose nothing by converting, and eventually moving on to kids of other religions whose childlike materialism makes them jealous because they don't get visited by your annual gift-giving mascot)]]. Sometimes it ends up being used as a synonym for world peace or ThePowerOfLove; it may not even be defined, but it has the same magical effect.

Compare SantaClausmas, when the True Meaning of Christmas is discussed without any indication that the holiday might have a religious aspect. See also YouMeanXmas, where the characters may learn the True Meaning of FictionalHoliday.

UsefulNotes/ChristmasInJapan is different.



[[folder: Advertising]]
* British department store chain John Lewis typically releases their blockbuster Christmas adverts towards the end of the year, and their messages normally revolve around the importance of being with family and how much better it is to give ''and'' receive gifts.
* The [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bq5SGSCZe4E 2016 Sainsbury's Christmas advert]], "The Greatest Gift", is "being with your loved ones"; an annoyingly catchy song sung by Creator/JamesCorden about a man who wants to find perfect presents for his family, but doesn't have time to spend with them, until he realises "the greatest gift that I can give is me".

* ''Anime/TheBigO'' uses the Christian explanation for their [[YouMeanXmas Heaven's Day]] episode. It also was {{Foreshadowing}} that the Villain knew things about the past world when he shouldn't have by informing the person next to him its about the day God's son was born. (In the setting, everyone has amnesia of anything before 40 years ago.)
** Though one could also take it as him [[AGodAmI talking about himself]].
* One of the (yes, [[MakesJustAsMuchSenseInContext oddly out-of-place]]) Christmas specials of the wicked [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII World War II]] allegorical satire ''Anime/HetaliaAxisPowers'' sort of skates around this idea, featuring the titular three main characters going around asking their fellow NationsAsPeople about the treatment of Christmas around the world.
** Of course, they don't find any real ''meaning'' from any of their peers: [[LoveFreak America]] talks about stuffing his face with food ("We cross out the 'Christ' part to make it more ''extreme''~! Want some Xmas cake?"), [[AnythingThatMoves France]] about some interesting holiday conquests, "godless China" leaves it with, "it kind of sucks" ("[[DoubleEntendre Just like girls]]!"), and "[[BuffySpeak godless-er]] Russia" talks about... [[BigLippedAlligatorMoment something]]. Finally, at the end of the special, the Axis talks to Finland, who they attribute with the creation of the modern holiday and assume must celebrate truest form of Christmas; he tells them he spends Christmas [[SpoofAesop sitting naked in a sauna]].
** Played much straighter in an earlier special, where the [[WeAREStrugglingTogether Allies]] and [[VillainProtagonist Axis]] are about to duke it out when they're interrupted by Finland, dressed as Santa and delivering presents. Touched, both groups agree to call an armistice in honor of the holiday spirit.
-->'''America''': I totally forgot it was Christmas. I guess being bloodthirsty can get a little distracting. (''{{Beat}}'') ...And by that [[FreudianSlip I mean bringing democracy to the rest of the world]].
* Spoofed in ''Manga/SaintYoungMen'', where not even ''Jesus himself'' knows what Christmas is supposed to be celebrating. When Buddha asks him if he knows what it commemorates, he thinks it's "the day Santa achieved reindeer-powered flight".
* On the ''Anime/SamuraiPizzaCats'' Christmas episode, Polly has a debate with Speedy and Guido over the value of gift-giving vs. receiving.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* The ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' fanfic [[http://archiveofourown.org/works/143024 "Very Merry Midwinter"]]. The true meaning of [[YouMeanXmas Midwinter]], apparently,
-->''isn't about the rituals or what they mean. It's about doing the rituals because they remind you of past times and the people you spent them with. It's nostalgia.''
* Explained by Tapper in the ''Fanfic/EmpathTheLuckiestSmurf'' stories "Empath And The Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "A Haunted Christmas" when he is asked about the manger scene that he has in his tavern.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheNightmareBeforeChristmas'' ends with Jack Skellington realizing the deeper meaning to Christmas than a different way to scare people - namely, [[ThePowerOfLove love.]] And in the beginning it's inverted--Jack does understand the meaning of the Christmas feeling and deeply wants it; he just doesn't understand exactly where it comes from. His attempts to make Christmas are what cause the titular nightmare.
* Every story in ''Mickey Mouse's Once Upon A Christmas'' takes a different lesson into account. In "Stuck on Christmas", Huey, Dewey, and Louie learn that Christmas is special because it only happens one day a year and that day should be celebrated and cherished, since Christmas would not be special if it happened every day. In "A Very Goofy Christmas" Max and Goofy learn that Santa exists because he is in the hearts of those who believe in him. In "Mickey and Minnie's the Gift of the Magi" the two learn that having each other together for Christmas is what counts, not the material presents you decide to give each other.
* In ''Mickey's Twice Upon A Christmas'' every story also has a different lesson. In "Belles on Ice" Minnie and Daisy learn that Crristmas is a time to put difference aside and give each other peace. In the story "Christmas: Impossible" We get the "More fun to give then to receive" message along with the "kindness and respect to others" message. Huey Dewey and Louie destroy Santa's shop after trying to write their own names on Santa's nice list, because Uncle Scrooge tells them they will wind up on the naughty list like him if they don't act carefully and they decide that they surely aren't on the nice last. After helping Santa's elves clean up the shop they find the list but decide to put Uncle Scrooge's name on it because he has been off the list for years. Santa winds up placing the boys on the nice list and giving them presents saying that "There's always room on the nice list for people that think of others first." In "Christmas Maximus" Max learns that Christmas is a time to spend with family, regardless of how odd certain members may be. In "Donald's Gift" Donald learns that everyone has Christmas spirit deep down in the heart. In "Mickey's Dog Gone Christmas" Pluto finds ItsAWonderfulPlot when he runs away from home and learns that Mickey isn't the same without him.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Doubly subverted in ''Film/AChristmasStory''. [[spoiler:The family does end up eating at a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Day, ''and'' the kid nearly gets his eye put out by the BB gun he wanted...which sounds like an antithesis to the trope. But they learn the Christmas Aesop after all.]]
* Paroided in ''Film/TheHebrewHammer'', where the heroes chuckle over the fact that Damien Claus failed to understand the ''true'' meaning of Channukah. Only for them to realize that none of them have any idea just what the point of the holiday is either.

* Creator/DrSeuss' ''Literature/HowTheGrinchStoleChristmas'' uses this: "Maybe Christmas, perhaps, doesn't come from a store... maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more..." (In this case, the true meaning of Christmas seemed to be thankfulness for friends, neighbors, and family.)
* ''Literature/AChristmasCarol'' is a major example, if not the UrExample. Scrooge learned to look beyond himself and found joy in bringing happiness to other people who needed it. (Under [[BrokenAesop threat of hellfire]], but still.)
* ''Literature/TheGiftOfTheMagi''
* In ''Discworld/{{Hogfather}}'', Death talks about [[AC: teaching people the real meaning of Hogswatch]] (the Literature/{{Discworld}}'s Christmas equivalent). Albert sarcastically asks which one he means -- burn a big bonfire to bring back the sun? Someone's found a bean in their food so now we have to kill him? Slaughter all the livestock and hope we have enough food to get through winter? Death reluctantly concedes the point and says [[AC: Very well, then. The Hogfather can teach people the ''unreal'' meaning of Hogswatch]]. Then he proceeds to subvert some {{Broken Aesop}}s, by giving rich gifts to poor children instead of letting them be grateful for what they get (which is usually almost nothing), and rescuing [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Match_Girl The Little Match Girl]]. It's worth noting that part of the book's [[AnAesop Aesop]] (and that of ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' in general) is that the "unreal" meanings of things are actually very important--''including'' the kinds of meanings that Albert sarcastically suggests.
-->[[AC: You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?]]
* Creator/CSLewis begins his 1957 essay "[[http://www.pas.rochester.edu/~tim/study/CSLewis.pdf What Christmas Means to Me]]" (collected in his book ''God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics'') by stating that there are actually three different things that go by the name of Christmas: a "religious festival", a "popular holiday", and a "commercial racket", the latter of which Lewis then goes on to criticize.
-->"[The religious aspect] is important and obligatory for Christians; but as it can be of no interest to anyone else, I shall naturally say no more about it here."
** In another piece from the same collection, "[[http://www.khad.com/post/196009755/xmas-and-christmas-a-lost-chapter-from-herodotus Xmas and Christmas: A Lost Chapter from Herodotus]]", Lewis satirically compares the dueling holidays of "Exmas" (secular) and "Crissmas" (religious) on the fictional island of [[SdrawkcabName Niatirb]].
* The FramingDevice of ''Literature/TheTrueMeaningOfSmekday'' is about Gratuity "Tip" Tucci writing an essay on the true meaning of Christmas, renamed "Smekday" by the alien invaders who invade on Christmas Eve.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/SabrinaTheTeenageWitch'' used the "Spending time with your family" version.
* ''Series/TheVicarOfDibley'' Christmas episode featured a scene in which Geraldine reminds the parish council about the true meaning of Christmas while they're rehearsing their nativity play (in response to Owen suggesting that it ''wasn't'' the Greatest Story Ever Told compared to, "The one where the couple had burglers break into their house and thought they didn't take anything, but a few months later had their pictures developed and got photographs of the burglers sticking their toothbrushes up their bottoms".)
* Played straight on ''Series/PerfectStrangers''' first ChristmasEpisode:
-->'''Balki''': "...Christmas is not just Christmas turtles and presents, it's also the birthday of baby Jesus!"
-->'''Larry''': "Yeah, I guess I...forgot that, too."
-->'''Balki''': "Well, the sheepherders never forget it. [[CrowningMomentOfFunny We were the first ones to get the news, you know]].
* The trope is referenced (along with ''Literature/AChristmasCarol'') in the pilot episode of ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'', when Tom Paris tells Harry Kim how he accidentally caused the deaths of three Starfleet officers: "The ghosts of those three dead officers came to me in the middle of the night and taught me the true meaning of Christmas."
* Played with tongue firmly planted in cheek in the 2010 ''Series/{{Leverage}}'' episode, "The Ho Ho Ho Job", when crazy hacker/MagnificentBastard Chaos (played by Creator/WilWheaton) is arrested for attempting to rob the Federal Reserve on Christmas. Alec(whose van Chaos blew up earlier in the ep) was there to deliver the coup de grace:
-->'''Chaos''': You have to admit, it was a good plan.
-->'''Hardison''': It was, but there was one thing you didn't count on.
-->'''Chaos''': Aw, no.
-->'''Hardison''': You forgot...
-->'''Chaos''': No, no, no...
-->'''Hardison''': ...about the true meaning...
-->'''Chaos''': Don't you say it!
-->'''Hardison''': ...of Christmas.
-->'''Chaos''': Gah, come on man, that barely applies here!
* Abed's goal in the ''Series/{{Community}}'' ChristmasEpisode, after [[spoiler:his mother not being able to visit over Christmas for the first time ever]] causes him to hallucinate a stop-motion animated journey through Winter Wonderland, accompanied by a Christian, a Jew, a Jehovah's Witness, an Atheist, an Agnostic and a [[ChurchOfHappyology "Buddhist"]].
-->'''Abed''': I get it. The meaning of Christmas is the idea that Christmas has meaning. And it can mean whatever we want. [[spoiler:It used to mean being with my mom.]] [[TrueCompanions Now it means being with you guys.]]
** The ChristmasEpisode of 2011 parodies via a [[TakeThat skewering]] of ''Series/{{Glee}}''; the director of the campus glee club appears to sincerely believe that a failure to put on the school's Christmas pageant will mean the complete destruction of Christmas.
* ''Series/{{Blackadder}}'s Christmas Carol'' had fun with this. Ebenezer Blackadder, the only good and friendly member of the Blackadder bloodline (and also an ExtremeDoormat), sees that his descendant would rule all of the universe if he became a spiteful backstabbing miser like his ancestors (instead of being a slave to future Baldrick, which would happen if he were to remain kind and generous). He decides the true meaning of Christmas is that bad people have more fun. However given that it's a Christmas episode there must be a FamilyFriendlyAesop, so this backfires when Ebenezer slams the door in the face of his next visitors, unaware it's the Royal Family who have turned up to publicly reward him for his famous generosity.
* After ''Series/DoctorWho'' had a series of Christmas Episodes, the SpoofAesop became that you have to get out of London as aliens always seem to invade on that day.
* In the ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'' episode ''Film/SantaClausConquersTheMartians'', during a host segment, Joel shows the 'Bots some films TV's Frank sent up to the Satellite of Love to watch after the experiment. The final three (all fictional examples) are all about old people who learn the true meaning of Christmas, in clear nods to ''A Christmas Carol''.
* ''Series/AdamRuinsEverything'': Similar to the ''Series/{{Community}}'' example, "Adam Ruins Christmas" has Adam and Rhea learning the true meaning of Christmas can be whatever you want it to be.

* Music/MitchBenn has a song called "The True Meaning of Christmas".
--> "The true meaning of Christmas is to eat until it hurts
--> Then drink until it don't hurt any more."
* A 1960s song by the Ray Conniff Singers states, "The real meaning of Christmas is the giving of love every day."
* A strange musical example happens in Music/TheWho's ''Music/{{Tommy}}'' in the play, album, and movie. In an opera that is otherwise not at all about Christmas, there is a single song titled, appropriately enough, "Christmas". The main character's parent(s) ponder if Tommy realizes that it's Christmas and if he experiences any of the joys of the holiday.
** It's deeper than that--they're also worried that he'll go to Hell. "Tommy doesn't know what day it is/He doesn't know who Jesus was or what praying is/How can he be saved/From the eternal grave?"

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* ''ComicStrip/{{Dilbert}}'' also went with "The true meaning of all Holidays, not just Christmas, is to remind people that their families are important".

[[folder: Puppet Shows]]
* In ''Series/TheFurchesterHotel: A Furchester Christmas'', Elmo and [[RequiredSpinOffCrossover Big Bird]] are worried that Santa doesn't know they're at the Furchester and not on Series/SesameStreet, until Mr Harvey Dull reminds them that Christmas isn't about presents but spending time with friends and family. (And then Santa knows where they are anyway, so [[BrokenAesop that's all right]].)

[[folder:Recorded and Stand-Up Comedy]]
* In Creator/StanFreberg's "Green Chri$tma$," Bob Cratchit (played by Creator/DawsButler) tries to implore Scrooge (played by Stan) about the true meaning of Christmas, but Scrooge keeps twisting everything he says into another opportunity to make money at Christmas. Towards the end, Cratchit finally gives up.
-->'''Cratchit:''' The people keep hoping you'll remember, but you never do.\\
'''Scrooge:''' Remember what?\\
'''Cratchit:''' Whose birthday we're celebrating.\\
'''Scrooge:''' Well... don't get me wrong. The story of Christmas, in its simplicity, is a good thing, I'll buy that. It's just that we know a good thing when we see it.\\
'''Cratchit:''' But don't you realize? Christmas has a significance, a meaning...\\
'''Scrooge:''' A sales curve. Wake up, Cratchit, it's later than you think.\\
'''Cratchit:''' I know, Mr. Scrooge. I know.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Awesome ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'' parody [[http://homestarrunner.com/dethemberween.html here]].
-->'''Brundo the Decemberween Yak:''' Oh, I lost all my magics.
-->'''Elf:''' Don't you see? The magic of Decemberween is inside ''everyone!''
-->'''Sheriff/Narrator:''' And so they returned the sword of St. Olaf to its rightful owner, and discovered the true meaning of Decemberween. Buh-buh-buh-buh-bye, kids!
** And in [[http://www.homestarrunner.com/dween_cakes.html this short]], Homestar and Strong Bad watch the Sweet Cuppin' Cakes holiday special:
--->'''Strong Bad''': Um, didn't I invent this cartoon?\\
'''Homestar''': Yeah, I think so.\\
'''Strong Bad''': Then how come I can't understand a lick of it?\\
'''Homestar''': What's not to understand? Eh! Steve!'s mouth exploded the universe, and that blond guy did a tiny, tiny dance.\\
'''Strong Bad''': Oh, ''right''. The true meaning of Decemberween.\\
'''Homestar''': Yeah yeah, right right!
** Another ''Homestar Runner'' cartoon parodies it yet another way. Homestar buys last-minute gifts for everyone and:
--->'''Strong Bad:''' Foolish Homestar. Decemberween is not about getting people presents. It's about getting people ''good'' presents! ''Good presents!'' Not this last-minute discount crap you're trying to foist on us!
* Subverted in WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic's parody of ''Film/ItsAWonderfulLife'' entitled ''You're a Dirty Rotten Bastard.'' With the help of his GuardianAngel, Critic learns that without him everyone he knows would lead a better life (except WebVideo/{{Phelous}}). He even discovers that his existence is forestalling world peace. In the end, he kills his GuardianAngel and declares that he makes one person's life better: [[ItsAllAboutMe his own.]]
** Played straight at the end of his [[https://youtu.be/8WXqtqNP9XE?t=1414 review of ''The Christmas Tree''.]] He goes through his house having his staff, his family, and himself all explain that the ''real'' point of Christmas is to have a joyful time giving, spending time with the people you love, and just taking a step back to remember that you aren't the center of the universe all the time. Comically subverted in the end when his parents, who both gave their own heartfelt monoluges, question who the hell the Critic even was.
* Website/TheOnion is slightly more concerned about whether or not people remember the true meaning of [[http://www.theonion.com/content/video/in_the_know_has_halloween_become Halloween]].
* Played straight (?) in ''WebVideo/DragonBallZAbridged''[='s=] "Plan to Eradicate Christmas", where Goku, Gohan, Piccolo, Trunks and Vegeta put the True Meaning as having nothing to do with Santa Claus or the presents, but instead the True Meaning is the bonds that bring people together, family, friends, [[TheLastOfTheseIsNotLikeTheOthers and killing Santa]].

* ''Webcomic/HannaIsNotABoysName'' has a short Christmas comic in which by spending their first Christmas together, Hanna and {...} remember why the holiday actually means something.
* ''Webcomic/FarOutThere'' has [[ChristmasEpisode Bridget and Alphonse's Horrifying Christmas]], which turned this trope into something of a SpaceWhaleAesop.
-->''...it's not important what gifts are exchanged, but who it is you're exchanging them with... [[http://faroutthere.smackjeeves.com/comics/1090304/bridget-and-alphonses-horrifying-christmas-page-13/ and whether or not any of them can save you from being eaten by giant, festering monsters.]]''
** The following year's Stilez vs. Christmas [[http://faroutthere.smackjeeves.com/comics/1366144/stilez-vs-christmas-page-8/ played it straight]].
* In ''Webcomic/{{Rhapsodies}}''; Kevin, during his first [[ChristmasEpisode Christmas dream]], thinks he's expected to [[http://rhapsodies.wpmorse.com/comic/rhapsodies-date-316/ learn this.]]
** In a later storyline he's told it's about [[http://rhapsodies.wpmorse.com/comic/season-of-giving/ hope in the darkness of winter.]]
* ''Webcomic/{{xkcd}}'' [[https://xkcd.com/1932/ suggests]] that, due to the proliferation of "true meaning of Christmas" stories, ''discovering the true meaning of Christmas'' has become the true meaning of Christmas.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* It brought down Skeletor in ''WesternAnimation/HeManAndTheMastersOfTheUniverse1983''. Sad.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** The show parodied this in the episode where Apu and Manjula had octuplets. After the episode skips from Manjula finding that she's pregnant to when she's about to give birth, the Simpsons offhandedly list a few things they've done over the last nine months. Bart's stories include "I learnt the true meaning of Columbus Day" and "and then I learnt the true meaning of Winter".
-->''"Hey, since when was Christmas just about the presents? Aren't we forgetting the true meaning of this day? The birth of Santa?"''
--->-- [[TheSimpsons Bart Simpson]]
-->''"Let's just agree that on this day a million years ago a dude was born who lots of people think was magical. And some people don't think so, and that's cool too. But we're probably right."''
--->-- Homer Simpson
** It was parodied again in the episode, "Holidays of Future Passed", when Bart tells his future kids that they're the only thing worthwhile in his wasted life.
-->''You've taught us the meaning of Christmas. Which schools are forbidden to tell us anymore.''
--->--Bart's Future Son
* ''WesternAnimation/TheFlintstones'' went with "It is better to give than to receive". Just to make it even more JustForFun/{{egregious}}, that episode had a picture dated "10 million BC". That's 10 million years [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin before Christ]], which makes [[AnachronismStew 10 million years before Christmas.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/DextersLaboratory'' had an awesome subversion. Dexter is fighting a climactic battle with Santa Claus and his family walks in on them and see the demolished living room, Christmas tree and gifts. Dexter understanding he has upset his family says the typical Christmas Aesop of how Christmas is all about sharing, giving, love, and family. Then Dee Dee tells "You blockhead! That's not what Christmas is about!" Dexter then asks "Oh yeah? Then what ''is'' Christmas about?" Santa answers simply with, "The presents." Episode ends.
** Too bad the family is aggro to Dexter when he tries to curry their favor, especially over a simple misunderstanding, and on ''Christmas''.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddParents'' combines this one with GroundhogDayLoop: Timmy wishes it was Christmas every day to get more presents, but this means Santa ends up getting overworked and he gets fewer and fewer presents. When the other holidays come after him, he learns the TrueMeaningOfChristmas.
** Oddly, for this trope he already knew it - getting presents was less important to him than Christmas being one of the ''few'' days of the year his usually neglectful parents would give him any attention. Which sort of makes the episode's Aesop that wishing for Christmas every day is wrong kind of depressing from the perspective of FridgeLogic.
* Swedish cartoon ''Karl-Bertil Jonsson's Julafton'' deals extensively with this. The true meaning of christmas, apparently, is "[[JustLikeRobinHood Steal From The Rich And Give To The Poor]]''.
** Lampshaded in the last scene, when the narrator tells us that Karl-Bertil's mom "got an almost religious expression in her eyes...for this happened at a time when Christmas was used to celebrate the birth of Christ."
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyG3'' G3.5 has the short ''Waiting for the Winter Wishes Festival'' (a prelude to the DirectToDVD [[YouMeanXmas Winter Wishes Festival]] special ''Twinkle Wish Adventure''), in which the ponies sing about their favorite things to do during the holiday season. Pinkie Pie sings that one of the things she likes is throwing holiday parties, but later sings:
-->"My favorite thing without a doubt
-->Is remembering what [[YouMeanXmas this day]] is all about
-->Caring and sharing and spending time
-->With friends you hold so dear
-->Taking time to tell them all
-->How glad you are they're near."
* ''A ComicStrip/{{Garfield}} ChristmasSpecial'' skirts the edge of the standard "better to give than recieve"--Garfield kicks off the show by dreaming of getting lots of rich presents and is a grouch about having to go to Jon's mother's for the holliday. He's warmed over by Grandma's reminiscing (the warm lap doesn't hurt either), finding old love letters from her departed husband to give her and Odie's surprise gift to him, summing it up with "Christmas: It's not the getting, it's not the giving, it's the loving. ''(bashfully)'' ...There, I said it, now get out of here."
* Subverted in "Low Tidings", the Christmas special for ''WesternAnimation/TheMarvelousMisadventuresOfFlapjack''. K'Nuckles learns the "better to give than to receive" Aesop... but it's made moot when [[spoiler:Poseidon, God of the Sea (who also runs the holiday) states that everyone gets gifts now, no matter whether they've been good or bad. You know, just like in RealLife.]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/PrepAndLanding'', Wayne always considered his Christmas duties (to prepare Santa's arrival in the houses) as a job and nothing more. And because of events in the movie, he's now in full "doesn't care" mode, until his attitude almost causes the abortion of a visit, and owes him to get called out by his younger partner Lanny, who gives the fifth staple (''Film/AChristmasStory'') as the true meaning:
-->'''Wayne''': We are just tiny ornaments in a gigantic tree, slaving away. And for what?
-->'''Lanny''': For what? For him. Just look at that face, Wayne. Just imagine his face when he wakes up tomorrow morning. Think of all the memories he'll pass on to his children, and his children's children. The passion may be gone for you, Wayne, but it's not gone for him.
* The ''WesternAnimation/VeggieTales'' video "The Toy That Saved Christmas" followed an action figure, programmed to teach kids the materialistic meaning of Christmas, as he escaped the factory in search of a deeper meaning. This being a Christian-targeted video, he not only learns the True Meaning Of Christmas involves giving to others, but also that it involves God giving Jesus to the Earth.
* Subverted on the ''[[WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers Venture Brothers]]'' Christmas special, as at shows' end, their jet has crashed in Bethlehem, and Brock is uncertain what'll happen if the PLO gets there first:
-->'''Dr. Venture''': Are you kidding? This baby runs on pure plutonium! They're gonna ''love'' us!
-->'''Dean''': And that's what Christmas is ''all about!''
* WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom tells us that the true meaning of Christmas is to respect the traditions of others and be happy with what you have. It tells us this through rhyme and ghost-fighting actions.
* Parodied in the ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' episode "A Very Crappy Christmas," where it turns out that the true meaning is commercialism, because otherwise people wouldn't have jobs.
** In another episode, Kyle launches into a True Meaning of Halloween speech, only for Stan to interrupt him and say "Dude, you're thinking of Christmas. Halloween '''is''' all about the candy." Satisfied, Kyle goes off to trick-or-treat.
** The first season episode "Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo" plays this a bit straighter: the town descends into PoliticalCorrectnessGoneMad over what symbols can be used for Christmas without offending anyone (non-Christians don't want religious stuff, Christians don't want Santa, environmentalists don't want Christmas trees, etc.), wrecking the whole holiday. Eventually [[RefugeInAudacity Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo]] appears and tells everybody to stop focusing on what's ''wrong'' with Christmas and pay attention to what's ''right'' about it, like giving and baking cookies. Though, for added effect, [[LampshadeHanging the credits are interrupted with a brief cutaway to Jesus]], [[ForgottenBirthday singing a sad "Happy Birthday" to himself]].
* There are three Christmas Specials surrounding an animal (usually a donkey) that spends most of the special being shunned by his peers and ridiculed but in the end ends up escorting Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. They are Creator/RankinBassProductions' ''WesternAnimation/NestorTheLongEaredChristmasDonkey'', Creator/{{Disney}}'s ''Disney/TheSmallOne'' (directed by Creator/DonBluth), and ''The Little Brown Burro''.
* In ''WesternAnimation/EdEddnEddy'' 's Jingle Jingle Jangle, Edd tries to tell Eddy this trope.
-->"Hold it right there, mister! The true meaning of Christmas isn't about want, or material things! Rather, it comes from here."
-->"...That's my udder you're touching."
** Later Eddy realizes that, "Christmas isn't about what you find under your tree, Christmas is about what you find in your heart." [[spoiler:A few minutes later, [[IgnoredEpiphany he steals everyone's gifts from Santa]].]]
* The first ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants'' ChristmasEpisode "WesternAnimation/ChristmasWho" has Squidward make fun of everyone for believing in Santa, but when he gets a present from [=SpongeBob=] (who didn't want Squidward to feel left out), he discovers that it's better to give than to receive - even if it means giving all his possessions away.
** Parodied in one episode where [=SpongeBob=] learns "The True Meaning of Summer" from Mr. Krabs: to make money off hungry kids on summer break.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/AsToldByGinger'' Christmas episode Ginger finds out her mother's father was Jewish. Her mom Lois doesn't seem to consider herself any religion but celebrates secular Christmas. After finding out she's part-Jewish, Ginger becomes obsessed with learning about Judaism and attempts to celebrate Hannukah instead of Christmas. In the end they decide to celebrate both holidays but at the Christmas-Hannukah party their house catches on fire thanks to faulty Christmas lights. After the party is ruined Ginger states she was so caught up in the holidays she forgot they're really about being close to friends and family.

* An early example is "YesVirginia, There Is a Santa Claus," which dates from 1897. It's more about the meaning of Santa, of course - but in his role as a representation of belief, of trust in human goodness and in all the beautiful invisible things that cannot be simply found or recorded, but that require faith to exist.
That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.