"Back on Earth we call this Christmas. Or the Winter Solstice. On this world, the first settlers called it The Crystal Feast."
Even if the Christmas Special
is widely used, a few writers catch on that some stories take place in a setting where certain holidays and celebrations shouldn't exist in the original sense
. So the characters celebrate a holiday that's (hopefully) just coincidentally similar enough to have the audience roll their eyes.
Despite the eye-rolling, this can be a Justified Trope
if the world of the story has solstices and equinoxes like our own, which would be logical times of the year to have a celebration.
Naturally, these episodes are aired around the holiday they're really trying to depict, and sometimes may receive a name change in order to comment on them without raising the ire of Media Watchdogs
Occasionally, they use a real holiday that would make sense in the world of the series but isn't commonly celebrated among most of the target audience. For instance, the second-season Xena: Warrior Princess
episode "A Solstice Carol."
Note that this trope only covers the use (or abuse) of Christmas or 'Christmas-ish' holidays in fictional, fantastical, or historical settings where the celebration as we know it would not exist; random other terms used for the holidays in modern settings should not be listed here.
This trope is named after the Christmas Special
, in which Santa Claus is actually an evil robot that kills everyone because he judges everything as naughty (except Zoidberg
). The letter X
(coming from the Greek letter χ, "chi") has been used as an abbreviation for "Christ" (Χριστός) for centuries. In modern times, however, the spelling "Xmas" is sometimes misconstrued as part of the supposed "War on Christmas" to secularize the holiday, literally "taking the 'Christ' out of 'Christmas'" by people on both sides of the argument. Also there are some people who come up with folk etymologies for the X such as that it means 'Criss (cross) mas' (as in the onomatopaeic description
of drawing an X) and are genuinely surprised to learn about the Greek letter.
They may have a tradition of caroling
. Compare Crystal Dragon Jesus
, Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp"
, Fictional Holiday
, Santa Clausmas
. Opposite of Everyone Is Christian At Christmas
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Anime and Manga
- A Growing Affection has Yuletide, which takes place on 12/21 and involves an exchange of small gifts. There is a Santa figure active in the capitol of the Land of Fire.
- In 1954 C. S. Lewis wrote a text called Xmas and Christmas: A Lost Chapter from Herodotus, in which the people of Niatirb celebrate two holidays: A secular one with parties and gifts and a religious one in temples. Herodotus concludes that "Exmas" (the commercial racket) and "Crissmas" (the religious festival) are two entirely distinct festivals that just happen to fall on the same day.
- Hogswatchnight, along with its patron spirit the Hogfather, from Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, though this is used more to examine and comment on Christmas and winter solstice holidays in general.
- The name is a combination of New Year's Eve being "Hogmanay" in Scotland and "Watch Night" in traditionalist Christian communities (and possibly also "hogwash"); it is also on the Discworld (at least around the Circle Sea) the culmination of the pig-slaughtering season.
- It has other equivalents, too; for instance, the Soul Cake Days are a mix of Halloween ("trickle-treating" is mentioned by a small girl in Reaper Man) and Easter (there's a "Soul Cake Duck" who lays chocolate eggs).
- Winterfair on the planet Barrayar in Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan books, which involves gift-giving and family get-togethers. The Barrayarans are non-theists (if a bit superstitious) and there's no spiritual aspect. The Emperor's birthday celebrations are at roughly the Thanksgiving Day time of year, also — at least for the current emperor.
- Complete with a Captain Ersatz Santa Claus, Father Frost. (Or not so ersatz. Father Frost is the Russian Santa equivalent, in what passes for real life, and one of the founding ethnicities of Barrayar is Russian.)
- Another example is Erastide, winter solstice festival and the most important holiday in The Belgariad. It includes a
Christmas pageant Erastide play, with masked family members reenacting the roles of the Seven Gods.
- The Heralds of Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey has a "Midwinter Festival" in which all students get a week off from school, go home to their families, exchange presents, etc. There is no corresponding "Midsummer Festival", however.
- Anne Bishop's Black Jewels trilogy has Winsol (presumably meaning "winter solstice"), an obvious stand-in for Christmas, complete with tree and gifts.
- Notably averted in Narnia, specifically The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which has Father Christmas — the old-fashioned, bad ass half-pagan-nature-god version — and the White Witch's rule is said to lead to Narnia forever being in a state of 'always winter, and never Christmas'. (The name "Christmas" was quite possibly introduced to Narnia by King Frank and Queen Helen, who used to be working-class Brits before becoming Narnia's first monarchs.)
- Many of the Expanded Universe novels in the Warhammer 40,000 universe mention a holiday known as "Emperor's Day" that appears very similar to Christmas. Of course, considering the Emperor has supposedly been several influential people throughout history, there's a reasonable chance it actually is Christmas.
- A fairly common substitute in fantasy novels is some variety of midwinter or solstice festival. The Tortall Universe books by Tamora Pierce feature feasting and gift-giving at midwinter and the Kushiel's Legacy books by Jacqueline Carey have masked balls on the Longest Night — which are lampshaded in the first book by saying that the tradition pre-dates the coming of Elua, who found it so charming and amusing that he kept it around.
- This Perfect Day by Ira Levin features Christmas...in a future dystopia where literally no one is religious. Of course, they also celebrate Marxmas on Karl Marx's birthday. Both are basically just rare excuses for the supercomputer that rules the world to let the human workers have an extra day off work. They also celebrate Unification Day on New Year's.
- The Deptford Mice — from the Robin Jarvis trilogy of that name — celebrate "Yule" in the winter, named after the pagan/Germanic solstice festival.
- In Wicked, the Ozites celebrate Lurlinemas, a winter holiday celebrating the birth of the goddess Lurline. Included are mentions of gift-giving, gingerbread, snowball fights, and even the phrase "happy holidays." Just about the only thing that differs from Christmas is that the designated holiday colors are green and gold rather than green and red. (And even that isn't too far off, as gold is often associated with Christmas as well.)
- Up until they created Kaya, a Nez-Perce Indian character from 1764, each of the American Girl characters had a Christmas story as a part of her book series. Since Kaya obviously wouldn't have celebrated Christmas, living before the Nez-Perce had much contact with Europeans, they gave her a story about "giving" as her obligatory "holiday" book.
- The Wheel of Time has the Feast of Lights. The name also bears a noticeable resemblance to Hanukah, the Festival of Lights.
- The Alternative Calendar in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings shows that the hobbits also celebrate Yuletide, or at least that's how J. R. R. Tolkien chose to translate the name of their midwinter holiday.
- In Dragon Lance, the people of Krynn celebrate Yule (as a Christmas stand-in), Harvest-Come (Halloween, complete with carving faces onto gourds) and Spring Dawning (Easter).
- One of the Garrett, P.I. novels mentions White Day, a fantasy-world counterpart to Valentine's Day. Different in that it's a custom to give boxes of candy to one's good friends as well as to one's beloved.
- White Day is a real holiday in Japan; it's celebrated a month after Valentine's Day and is a day when men are expected to reciprocate for the gifts they got on Valentine's Day.
Live Action TV
- Fraggle Rock had an episode titled "The Bells of Fraggle Rock". This invented holiday was surprisingly well-handled. Furthermore, the episode was very thought-provoking for a (de-facto) Christmas Episode: Gobo searched his maps for the location of the legendary Great Bell at the Heart of Fraggle Rock, then set off just before the Festival of the Bells on a quest to find the Great Bell and bring it back to show the other Fraggles and prove that the literal meaning of the holiday is true. The other Fraggles promised to wait for him, so they could ring the bells together, but came to regret this decision as the cold encroached and the Rock began to freeze over. At the end of Gobo's quest, he found a seasonally heartwarming Aesop.
- The Festival of the Bells was also mentioned in the crossover special A Muppet Family Christmas, where it was explicitly described as the Fraggles' winter solstice holiday.
- Jingle Day in The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss episode Mrs Zabarelli's Holiday Baton".
- The Christmas Episode of The Furchester Hotel has Monster Monster Day, which is apparently Elmo's favourite holiday, despite him never once mentioning it in Sesame Street.
- In the Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama Spare Parts, the Mondasians, dwelling in an underground city in a planet that was hurled out of the solar system, have a midwinter holiday in which an artificial tree symbolising the forests Mondas used to have is decorated with lights symbolising the stars, baubles representing the planets they pass, tinsel representing their path through space, and an uppermost star representing the sun they hope to return to.
- Averted in Forgotten Realms as far as Christmas itself goes: Midwinter/Deepwinter is not a time of general celebration, but played straight with the Feast of the Moon, the Autumn festival that honours the dead, and Greengrass, the Spring festival that celebrates growing things with flower garlands (May Day).
- The various Mystara nations' calendars are littered with Expies of familiar Real Life holidays, such as Ierendi's tropical version of Christmas (ribbon-bedecked palm trees).
- Azeroth of World of Warcraft holds the "Feast of Winter Veil" every December. This is apparently universal among the disparate cultures, and comes with people who think the holiday is being overcommercialized, and its own versions of Santa Claus. For the Alliance we have Greatfather Winter, a dwarf. And for the horde there's Great-Father Winter, an orc. Both are dressed as Santa and have white beards (their names could be based on Grandfather Frost, the Eastern Slavic equivalent of Santa).
- World of Warcraft also includes renamed versions of Halloween (Hallow's End), Easter (Noble Garden), Valentine's Day (Love is in the Air), Fourth of July/Canada Day (Midsummer Fire Festival), a Thanksgiving Day-esque holiday (Harvest Festival), Children's day and Mother's Day (Children's Week) and the Chinese New Year (Lunar Festival) in the game. October 2007 even saw the introduction of an Oktoberfest analogue, Brewfest. The Spirit of Competition showed up for the Olymipcs in 08. Even the unofficial Holiday, Talk like a Pirate Day is celebrated with Pirates' Day.
- They have also implemented Pilgrim's Bounty(Thanksgiving analogue) and Day of the Dead(after the real-world event).
- The online game Kingdom of Loathing has "Crimbo", complete with Crimbo Elves and Uncle Crimbo himself. Also, Hannukkah is replaced with "Hannukimbo", Thanksgiving Day with "The Feast of Boris", St. Patrick's Day with "St. Sneaky Pete's Day", and Easter with "Oyster Egg Day" (during which players can hunt for "oyster eggs" left behind by a Magical Flying Oyster). They even have a holiday called "Dependence Day", during which the citizens of Loathing set off fireworks. Oddly, Halloween and Valentine's Day are in the game unchanged.
- Final Fantasy XI has substitute holidays for many Western and Eastern celebrations alike. The "X-mas" is called the Starlight Festival, and of course involves people in Santa hats and coats called "smilebringers" giving presents to children. Interestingly, it's suggested that the smilebringer tradition may have been started by goblins, who are (usually) an enemy race in the game. Oddly enough, despite the presence of a goddess whose worship is sometimes reminiscent of Christianity, neither the Starlight Festival nor any of the other holidays seem to have any relation to any in-game religious practice whatsoever. Wishing on stars is as close as it gets.
- It should also be noted that every holiday event is celebrated in Japan, always. St. Patrick's Day? Nope. April Fool's? Not a chance. Boxing Day? Oh, never. Writing haiku and placing them on bamboo stalks? Sure Why Not? Considering the international playerbase, it's kind of odd. While the developers are Japanese, you'd think they could just Google up some holidays...
- City of Heroes has the simply named Winter Event, during which for a month the city gets randomly attacked by giant monster snowmen and the Ski Chalet in Pocket D, the interdimensional dance club, is open for business.
- Toy Day and other real-world holidays in Animal Crossing for GameCube. A reindeer (the only deer in the game) brings toys on a day in late December. This event, along with most other real-world holidays, were taken out of Wild World, probably because of the online nature of the game. Toy Day and other theme park'd holidays were added back to City Folk, and the issue of having single-region holidays was fixed by giving each region its own holidays; if a Japanese player wants to come to Explorer's Day (Columbus Day), they have to make an American friend, for example.
- In The Elder Scrolls game series, the Saturnalia festival is a holiday that happens right on the 25th of December, and is even explicitly described as a 'time of gift giving'.
- Bloodmoon even includes a Santa Claus figure named Uncle Sweetshare, though he has no connections to Saturnalia. The game's files include an unused version of Sweetshare named Grandfather Frost, who was even more Santa-like. Supposedly he was replaced for being too much like Santa.
- Only instead of presents, he gives you drugs.
- Bonus points for this holiday being named the same as the Roman festival that took place at the time Christmas is currently celebrated. Supposedly, many of the traditions currently observed over Christmas originated from this feast.
- MMORPG Star Wars: Galaxies ran with the ball The Star Wars Holiday Special had handed them and declared December 25th Wookiee Life Day. As we all know (although I'm sure we'd like to forget), Wookiee Life Day is celebrated quite similarly to Christmas.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic did some similar winks and nods, including a downloadable decorated tree prop, a speeder with gawdy strings of lights attached, and those red robes as customizable armor. And more recently, a red-nosed Tauntaun...
- In AdventureQuest's world of Lore, they celebrate Frostval, a day marked by the Frost Moglins of Frostvale making and delivering presents to the people of Lore. While this is pretty much where the similarity between Frostval and Christmas ends, there are two Santa Claus-themed monsters: a mutant crab named Sandy Claws and a skeleton in a Santa suit named Gris Dingle. Quests around this time generally involve the holiday being held up by a war against a powerful Ice Dragon and the players having to help deliver the presents before they magically unwrap themselves. Other holidays include Grenwog (Easter), Good Luck Day (St. Patrick's Day), Hero's Heart Day (Valentine's Day).
- AdventureQuest Worlds had a Moglinster (basically a monstrous version of a moglin) called Santy Claws for 2009's Frostval.
- Pretty much all of Artix Entertainment's games have alternate versions of real-world holidays. Frostval is Christmas, of course, but there's also Thankstaking (Thanksgiving), Mogloween (Halloween), Hero's Hearts Day (Valentine's Day), and a traditional Gold Fever War on St. Patrick's Day (which is called Good Luck Day). There are many celebrated under their real-world names, such as the Fourth of July, April Fools' Day, and Talk Like a Pirate Day. Every Friday the 13th is also celebrated.
- Guild Wars has Wintersday, which is more accurately New Year's Day but celebrated more like Christmas, with a little bit of Groundhog Day — the observation, not the movie nor the trope — thrown in.
- There is also an equivalent Halloween holiday, where special candy-corn minions are available, and Mad King Thorn (a pumpkin-headed undead ruler) comes and transforms NPCs into monstrous creatures and gives commands to people. Those who don't follow the commands are killed temporarily.
- The Canthans also celebrate the Lunar New Year, being inspired by the Chinese theme. Adding to the allusion is the Celestial creature of the appropriate year (eg. 2008 had a celestial rat).
- The Canthans also celebrate the Dragon Festival, both to commemorate the launch of Nightfall and to coincide with the Fourth of July/Canada Day.
- Less explicit are Lucky Weekend(St. Patrick's Day), Sweet Treats Weekend(Easter), and Special Treats Weekend (Thanksgiving). These are limied to special drops with no other events.
- The Harvest Moon series, particularly Friends of Mineral Town, features mostly Japanese Holidays, but (with the exception of New Year's) the real holiday names are never used. Valentine's Day and White Day become "Winter Thanksgiving" and "Spring Thanksgiving". Christmas Eve and Day become "Starry Night" and "Stocking Festival".
- That last bit is subverted in Island of Happiness, where you can actually unlock a holiday called the Goddess Festival in honor of — who else? — the Harvest Goddess.
- They've had that festival since Back To Nature at least...
- MapleStory. Maplemas. Cue eye rolls.
- Also, Versalmas, which is the same as Maplemas but more purple.
- EverQuest II has Frostfell, a general winter holiday that lasts through all of December and parts of January. Other celebrated holidays are Bristlebane's Day for April Fools Day, Erollisi Day for Valentines, Brew Day for St. Patrick's Day, and Nights of the Dead for Halloween.
- Startopia's Groulien Salt Hogs have a festival/holiday called Chrimbas. Apparently it involves handing out a random selection of wrapped-up gifts and low-grade toxins to their youngsters, who either squeal with delight or choke as their respiratory system temporarily shuts down.
- Team Fortress 2 has Australian Christmas. It takes place a week before regular Christmas, and instead of giving good children toys, Old Nick (Nicolas Crowder) takes all the bad kids to the South Pole and forces them to build hats and weapons for the next twelve months, at which point the fruits of their labours are given to him as gifts.
- "Naturally, given the sheer number of hats and weapons Old Nick receives, there are bound to be duplicates — And every December 18th, he posts them online, selling them at prices so low he's practically giving them away."
- The 2011 Australian Christmas update introduced "Smissmas", which seems to be celebrated identically to Christmas. As of 2012, Australian Christmas is completely absent from the equation, having presumably died with its perpetrator.
- ApertureScience.com has celebrated Christmas twice, once on 2007 and once on 2010. Both times the holiday was designated as "", and was celebrated by various Portal- and Portal 2-themed (also with themes of The Orange Box in 2007, as Portal 2 was unheard of) props with a Christmas theme being placed in the "Holiday Vault".
- ThinkingWithPortals.com, a fan site, takes this one step further by replacing any instance of "Christmas" in posts with "", much to the dismay of people who haven't played the first Portal.
- Dungeons & Dragons Online has Festivult, where a dwarf in bright clothing gives presents to all the good little clerics and wizards. It's typically a month-long event where players collect coins and exchange them for cookies and treats that cast magical effects on whoever eats them. You might also get a lump of coal or a twig as "punishment" - though the twig can be crafted into a rechargable Eternal Wand of Frost, where most wands have a limited number of uses before being consumed.
- The Lord of the Rings Online has an annual Yule Festival in Winter-home, a town that can't be found on the maps. Yule celebrations involve playing games and doing chores to win tokens that can be spent on surprise gifts, clothes, and horses. There's a Christmas charity subplot of Winter-home's mayor exploiting workers, and the player character choosing whether to help or take advantage of said workers.
- Borderlands 2 has Mercenary Day, which was invented by the Dahl Corporation as a promotional stunt in which all mercenary services were free for a day. In Pandora, it's since been adopted as the resident equivalent of Christmas.
- Lampshaded in this Keychain of Creation strip; the joke, of course, is that in the Exalted universe where the strip takes place, not only Christmas but the concept of winter would be completely alien to the characters.
- Not the concept of winter (Exalted does have seasons with climate changes), but the word itself does not refer to a season in the setting. Cue the Deathlord named Mask of Winters. For reference, the winter seasons are late Air and early Water.
- Ctrl+Alt+Del has "Winter-een-mas", which should more or less speak for itself.
- Taken to its logical extreme in Checkerboard Nightmare where the titular character creates "X-Holiday", a more secularized and commerican version of Christmas. Buy your festive X-Holiday obelisks today!
- Pokey the Penguin has the Gift Exchange Day.
- Exterminatus Now has the Annual Gift Day™. At least they're calling it straight. The main characters even talk about how awful it is that some people are ascribing a religious meaning to a purely commercial holiday.
- Taking place over 2000 years in the future, and in a fantasy setting to boot, Christmas has evolved into "Winterfest" in The Dragon Doctors.
- From Platypus Comix:
- Ms. Munupi from Keiki makes her students celebrate "Sparkle Day". One of them accidentally provokes her to refer to Christmas by its actual name, prompting some police to arrest her.
- The self-contained story "How the Kvetch Stole Hannukah!" details a Grinch-like monster's attempts to frame Jewish people of ruining the holiday season by disguising as a Jew, then forcing the public media to remove all potentially offensive references to Christmas.
- The title character of Princess Pi celebrates Life Day once, but the traditions shown in The Star Wars Holiday Special apparently became replaced with fighting the Frizzies at 11; the name refers to the fact the winner gets to live a longer life than the dead loser. Any assumptions that Peter Paltridge did this to avoid Christian references become negated when Pi explains they fight the Frizzies "to honor Jesus".
- Homestuck has 12th Perigee's Eve. The Trolls and their Lusus may decorate the hive or just stay inside, and the Lusus goes and collects a "behemoth leaving" in the style of a Christmas tree. A 12th Perigee's Eve coincided with the trolls finishing their session and about to win when Jack Noir gets in their way and they are forced to retreat.
- In Glorianna, a bearded, jolly, fat man appears out of nowhere on the winter solstice to give the heroine a spiritual pep talk.
- In the Penny Arcade "Acquisitions Inc" RPG campaign, midwinter is when Lord Wynter, accompanied by Servitor Elves and Paindeer, brings treats to the virtuous youth. The adventure revolves around gaining the Enscriptor Malefica, or "naughty list".
- Localities in the Society For Creative Anachronism often accommodate their members' desire for a Christmas party by scheduling a winter solstice "revel", an event that many of their personas in its Anachronism Stew would have celebrated in one way or another. Too often for SCA authenticity mavens' taste, someone in power insists that the obligatory evergreens include an obvious Christmas tree, which not only contravenes the SCA rule against favoring any religion but is significantly later than the Society's chosen pre-17th century period. But the feasting, dancing, and rejoicing manage to survive such contretemps.
- In Russia, Christmas is only a religious holiday, rarely specially celebrated. But there is an equivalent to Western Christmas, the New Year. It's the New Year that is celebrated with decorated trees, presents and fireworks.
- It mostly has to do with the fact that Christmas, a religious holiday, was banned in the militantly atheist days of early Soviet Russia. Soon, however, the social, strictly secular aspects of celebration were reallowed, but, the religious holiday still being heavily discouraged, they kind of latched on the Closest Thing We Got — the New Year, which even before was largely seen as a chance to celebrate the Christmas second time without all that religious dourness.
- It is a similar case in Turkey which is Muslim, but has a Westernised culture. Christmas is not observed but all the usual Christmas paraphenelia (gifts, Santa, trees) are linked to New Year celebrations.
- In the USA, Hanukkah has become the ersatz Christmas for Jews. It's not a particularly holy or important daynote , but because it happens to fall around Christmas, it receives extra attention from many Jewish families who are feeling left out of the holiday season. Some families have even added trees to the celebration, calling them "Hanukkah Bushes," but this is itself a Dead Horse Trope among Jews. Christmas Day spent seeing a movie and eating Chinese food is its own trope.
- Christmas in Japan is actually very popular, even though most Japanese aren't Christians. However, Japanese Christmas isn't anything close to Western Christmas. It's more like Valentine's Day with elves, Santa Claus hats and cake. New Year's has closer emotional associations, being a very family-and-home oriented holiday, and most TV channels will ring in the new year with beautiful solemn images of shrines tolling bells in remote, snow-covered locations.
- The Republic of China, a.k.a. Taiwan, celebrates its Constitution Day on December the 25th. This was arranged deliberately by the republic's first President, Chiang Kai-shek. Chiang, who was Christian, wanted an excuse to make Christmas a public holiday in a predominantly Buddhist/Taoist society.
- Slightly aside of the trope, it's also worth noting that for the entire Southern Hemisphere, Christmas is a summer holiday, and yet the influence of European and American winter traditions often remains. It's not unusual for an Australian Christmas (for example) to involve roast turkeys and fake snowmen during a 40 degree Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) day.