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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 of Futurama, 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, Uncoffee, Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp", Fictional Holiday, Santa Clausmas. Opposite of Everyone Is Christian At Christmas.
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The Big O episode "Daemonseed" introduced "Heaven's Day", and had the Humongous Mecha beaten by a mutant Christmas tree! Subverted at the very end of the episode, where Alex Rosewater remarks on how mutated Heaven's Day had become, and how nobody remembers that its origins were to celebrate the birth of God's Son—although Alex is ego maniacal to the point that he could be referring to himself. Another possibility is that this is to illustrate that Alex has recovered memories from before "40 years ago", which would logically include the significance of the holiday.
Lucu Lucu uses the real Christmas, but as a demon says in chapter 15:
Bubu: No commandments... No religious conversations... Emptiness changed from a religious event into a hollow skeletal shell of idol worship; it's become rotten and corrupt with the smell of decay! Christmas is the Demon's holiday!
One of the Tenchi Muyo! films depicts a Juraian holiday called "Startika" which bears a suspicious resemblance to Christmas, at least as it is celebrated by the Japanese. Somewhat subverted because actual Christmas is also celebrated in the same story.
Startika is more their version of Summer Solstice, as it is celebrated in the middle of June, and has nothing to do with exchanging gifts. The big celebration is that they eat 'shou-jen' for the night (vegetarian)...
In Bone comics, the characters celebrate a holiday with strong resemblances to Christmas (or some sort of solstice festival) by bringing a green pine tree into their house during the depths of winter.
Phoney even lampshades this trope;
Phoney: Different reasons... Different names... It all comes down to th' same thing— Business picks up, an' I make A lotta money!
The UK Thundercats comics introduced Rammastide, which while technically celebrates when Third Earth was liberated from Mumm-ra, is basically Christmas in blue and gold. It also has the bad luck of being the day the Metokangmi walks around mourning its dead mate. And it's preferred path happens to be right through the Cats' Lair, which ends up working out because the Metokangmi is basically a gigantic feline yeti.
Transmetropolitan has a Christmas special where Spider Jerusalem is deliberately trying to avoid any sort of holiday celebration. As this is the future in a city where a new religion is incorporated every hour, these range from the typical (Christmas) to the more... off-beat (Drink-My-Urine-Day, where one religion's vat-grown Messiah's heart caught fire, which was only extinguished by someone pissing down his throat). It's Warren Ellis, what do you expect?
In the original Wonder Woman the Amazons celebrated Diana's Day at winter solstice. One woman was chosen by lots to play the Goddess and distribute presents while the others are entitled to try to unmask her and take over the Goddess role. Those who try and fail are tied up, of course, and have to dress up as deer on the following day for a mock hunt. The "deer" are caught, "cooked" and served, whereupon they have to dance. Hey, it's Marston.
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.
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 ErsatzSanta 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.)
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.
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.
In the Seinfeld episode "The Strike" George Costanza, in a miserly effort to avoid giving Christmas gifts at the office, celebrates Festivus. A holiday previously created by George's father, Festivus was a response to the over-commercialization of Christmas.
Star Trek sometimes gives suspiciously similar holidays to alien cultures to make up for the general lack of human holidays.
Voyager had an episode involving the suspiciously Christmas-like Talaxian holiday of Prixin.
And there was a Bajoran "Gratitude Festival" in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine — they stopped short of eating turkey, although there is a reference in one episode to a Thanksgiving Day dinner Sisko served, which did include turkey and stuffing.
The O.C. featured resident Deadpan Snarker Seth Cohen inventing "Chrismukkah" to cope with having a Jewish father and a Christian mother.
The second season of LazyTown had a winter episode with no holiday at all, but featured a relyricked version of a song from the Icelandic forerunner's Christmas album as the episode's song.
Xena: Warrior Princess has "A Solstice Carol". This episode features orphans about to be evicted on Solstice eve, a solstice tree, a toy maker named Senticles who disguises himself with a red suit and a white beard and falls down a chimney, A king who hates the Solstice and has banned it, Xena and Gabrielle sneaking into his bedchamber to pretend to be the Fates and ghosts of past, present, future and convincing him to mend his evil ways. To top it all off, Gabrielle gives her donkey to a married couple with a child who look suspiciously like a few religious figures that will remain nameless, while a bright star hangs in the sky above. Seriously. Of course, fans of the show will tell you that this trope was just made for this show.
Funnily enough, if you take out "Senticles" and the Christmas Carol shout-outs, it's actually a pretty damned good representation of Solstice festivals of the time... in NORTHERN Europe, anyway, if not Greece.
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys features a thinly veiled Nativity story in the episode "A Star to Guide Them". Aeolus and two others have visions of a star guiding them to some sort of "important event", they have gold and frankincense and myrrh as presents, Herc explicitly calls him a "wise man," and at the end you see the three entering a manger with a bunch of animals sitting around and some very familiar looking folks. About the only thing they didn't do was have the happy couple introduce themselves as Mary and Joseph before fading out.
Dinosaurs has its own uncannily parallel holiday from 60 million years in the past: Refrigerator Day.
While Battlestar Galactica (the reboot, anyway) doesn't appear to have any equivalent to Christmas, Colonial Day has some similarities to Independence Day, combined with a hint of State of the Union given the political implications. Justified, given the canonical history of the Colonies.
Caprica reveals the existence of a St. Valentine's Day equivalent called Eros Day.
Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! held a "Chrimbus Special." Apparently the Winterman (an old bald guy wearing naught but a vest) will leave presents in your Chrimbus bush, but only if you've eaten a pound of hair during the year. More subtly, the holiday was consistently referred to as "the season of getting/receiving."
The concept was parodied in Maid Marian and Her Merry Men where the Sheriff of Nottingham and his henchmen, Gary and Grayhame, invent a public holiday called "Bloopy" in order to get out of trouble with King John, and every single cynical thing ever said about Christmas applies to Bloopy as well.
The Big Comfy Couch has an episode called "Comfy and Joy" wherein the whole cast gets together, exchanges wishes and gifts, and stays up until sunrise, on what is repeatedly called the longest night of the year.
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.
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.
It is perhaps worth noting that "Crimbo" is used as slang for Christmas in some parts of Britain, although it does not extend to "Crimbo Elves". Also, whilst the Crimbo story starts out pretty much like any Christmas story, it has gone through many things that aren't precisely expected in a holiday story. Such as the Crimborg, festive radiation, the Penguin Mafia, and the Crimbomination.
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...
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.
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...
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 thisKeychain 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!
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".
The character Blockhead celebrates a holiday called "Ghostmas Day", which he celebrates really whenever he feels like. However the holiday seems closer to Halloween than anything and really is just an excuse for the already batshit insane character to cause more random havoc and more reason to frustrate his Conscience.
The Homestar Runner universe has "Decemberween", which started out as being just a different name for (secular) Christmas. Since then, it's morphed into its own Bizarroland version of it, with TV specials about "the Mystical Sword of St. Olaf" and Santa Claus displaced by "the Dethemberween Thnikkaman." The latter may or may not just be something Strong Bad made up, but this is a world where things Strong Bad makes up tend to either become, or get retconned into, real things with no explanation, so who knows.
Starmen.net has EB no Matsuri (Literally EB Festival), which has Annual Gift Man decent from his base on the moon, where he gives all the good children copies of Earthbound for the SNES, and all the bad children vials of flesh eating viruses hidden under their pillow, shoes, etc...
Subeta and their Luminaire. They are doing it with every other holiday, though.
"Holiday", observed by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
In the League of Intergalactic Cosmic Champions there was Kwistanakahdon which was a Politically Correct winter celebration designed to combine various beliefs into one holiday designed to make the most money for retailers.
Rhett & Link, who are Christians, played around with this trope on a collection of fake outtakes from a fake commercial. Rhett also mentioned in one podcast that he celebrates the Harvest Season as opposed to Halloween.
Trinton Chronicles has Yule instead of Christmas, though it’s essentially the same minus the Christian overtones: there is no Christ or reason to have a mass for such a figure. Instead it’s modeled after the Germanic celebration of Winter Solstice, complete with Yule Log and giant effigy burning.
Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series gives us "Slavemas" an ancient Egyptian holiday where the people of Egypt had to serve as slaves to Pharoah Atem. Until the thief king tried to ruin it, at which point he just made EVERYONE slaves all year round. And it's done as parody of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, too. Yes, 'tis awesome.
Dragon Ball Abridged, Santa never came to the Saiyans on Planet Vegeta, they heard of the joy he brought to children, of the presents, of the merriment, that they were denied. Planet Vegeta never got Christmas, all they got was Freeza Day.
Goku: What happened on Freeza Day?
Turles: He blew the planet up!
In the abridged X-Men series by Lets Burn Holes we get "Jesus Christ's Birthday" in place of the Christmas special, with lines such as "Let's go home and sing some Jesus Christ Carols!". And it ends with Beast (Professional Jerk Ass) and the Morlocks convincing Wolverine, Storm and Jubilee that Jesus Christ has been reborn on Earth. It also features such traditional Jesus Christ's Birthday traditions as ice skating, shop lifting, AIDS jokes and cannibalism.
Lloyd in Space portrayed not only a Christmas clone called Droimatz, it even had its own Hannukah clone Thierlap. Oddly, Thierlap traditions don't resemble Hannukah at all; more like an ersatz combination of the Jewish harvest festivals Passover and Sukkot that involves eating one type of durable ethnic food for about a week inside a small, non-permanent building.
Sealab 2021 referenced "Alvistide", the Christmas-like major holiday of the Alvians, more than once. Somewhat atypically, Alvistide was similar to Christmas in its religious aspects (the celebration of the birth of a great prophet, purportedly to a virgin), more than in its secular trappings (which mostly involved revenge, excessive consumption of whiskey, and firearms). This is an interesting example, as the episode was originally going to involve Christmas itself; the writers were warned off by Standards and Practices. There was also mention of "sheikrahdan," a month during which the menu had to be changed to accommodate the "sheikrahs."
Rolie Polie Olie featured "Jingle-Jangle-Day", indistinguishable from Christmas in its secular trappings. Jingle-Jangle-Claus (seriously) even puts in an appearance.
The Invader Zim episode "The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever" was reportedly meant to actually feature "Christmas" in the title, but it wound up changed. Regardless, the holiday is (mostly) referred to as Christmas during the episode, although true to the show's form, its trappings are rather... off.
In Futurama, it is revealed that in the Standard English of the year 3000, the holiday is pronounced "Ex-Mas" (much as "ask" is officially pronounced "axe", as it is in many dialects today). The spirit of the holiday is markedly different, as people stay inside in fear of the robot Santa Claus who puts almost everyone on his naughty list and then tries to kill them. The underground mutants seem to celebrate Christmas, however, as they worship their giant unexploded nuclear missile on that day.
Clone High had Snowflake Day, an inclusive, non-specific holiday that replaced Christmas, as well as Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, a year before the series. The Snowflake Day episode also contained a Stop Motion scene where Santa Claus tells Snowflake Jake, the holiday's pirate-captain mascot, that he's realized that "a harmless celebration of our religions is oppressive."
Buzz Lightyear of Star Command includes a winter celebration wherein people all over the galaxy put up decorated fir trees, exchange presents, and eagerly await the nighttime arrival of Santa Claus. It's only ever referred to as "the holiday."
My Gym Partner's A Monkey has "Animas". It involves embraces your instincts to know what day is Animus and sniffing out the holiday communal territory marking rock so you can add to it.
Nickelodeon series ChalkZone has a holiday episode where the people of Chalk Zone celebrate something called "Chris-hanukah-mas" and "Rama-kwanzaa-dan". No mention of Tet anywhere, though. Apparently, Buddhism doesn't exist in Chalk Zone.
On Ed, Edd n Eddy, Funny Foreigner Rolf celebrates Christmas just like the other kids of the cul-de-sac... sorta. As revealed in the Christmas Special "Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy's Jingle Jingle Jangle", Christmas in Rolf's Old Country is a bit closer to the original Yule: his living room is decorated with meats, fish, and cheeses, and instead of receiving presents from Santa, good little boys and girls receive gifts of food from Yeshmiyek, an old bearded witch who lives at the center of the Earth. There's even a song about her, if you dare to listen.
The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack uses Low Tides Day. People put their boots into the water, and in the morning when the water has been pushed back, there is a gift inside (left by Poseidon). Bad people get thrown in sacks and tossed around by mermen. But, at the end of the special, Poseidon "rewrites the rules" of the holidays so that it mirrors a modern-day Christmas in the USA (you get a present whether you're good or bad, etc.)
The PBS kids cartoon Cyberchase had an episode, Starlight Night, where penguin cyber-citizens celebrated a holiday where penguins used special fairydust to fly around their town and give out presents, including a very corny "Holiday" song.
Starlight Night also involved all of Cyberspace celebrating the relighting of Cyberspace's stars (in a fashion similar to the countdown to the midnight balldrop in Times Square on New Year's Eve, complete with a Starlight Night parade grand marshal pulling a switch to relight said stars).
The Emperor's New School (despite being set in the pre-Columbian Incan Empire) features 'Kuzmas' (and other holidays such as 'Kuzcoween'). The series is ambiguous as to whether it takes place in a Flintstones-like past, or in the present in a modern day Peruvian village.
This series' closest counterpart to Christmas is 'Giftmas', when Papa Santos grants wishes to nice people who believe him and would even make Kuzco emperor again had it been wished by someone in the nice list. However, Papa isn't all-knowing, considering his naughty list has 'Yzma' and 'Amzy' as second and third naughtiest. (At least until Kuzco started to work his way out of the list)
Blues Clues had an episode where the characters celebrate "Love Day" instead of Valentine's Day.
On Chowder Christmas is called "Knishmas" in line with the series' naming everything after food. It involves making large Gingerbread Houses for Knish Kringle, a large caterpillar like version of Santa that will trash the house if the Gingerbread House isn't to his tastes.
There is a Super Mario World episode with "Cave Christmas", which Mario and Luigi actually state is invented by them because the cavepeople don't know what Christmas is.
Dino Riders had an episode where the Valorians stranded on Earth celebrate "Thanksgiving." Since they are time travelers from the future and know of Earth's prehistoric animals, it is never clear whether they are Human Aliens, or merely humans who settled on Valoria at some point. If the latter, then their celebration may actually be a descendant of the American Thanksgiving Day holiday. If the former, then it is merely their own home-grown holiday for giving thanks.
Donkey Kong Country has the characters celebrating a holiday called the Kongo Bongo Festival of Lights, which revolves around presents and visiting loved ones. Oh, and there's also fireworks.
Watership Down had the Feast of Frith (definitely not in the book) which just happened to fall on December 24.
An animated Christmas Special based on the comic strip B.C. had Peter (voiced by Bob Elliot) accidentally discover how nice it is to give something to someone. So, with the help of Wiley (voiced by Ray Goulding), he puts together a scam: a fake holiday where everyone gives everyone else gifts, in the name of a mythical figure called Santa Claus. And Peter & Wiley hope to make a bundle by selling everyone rocks (as gifts) and trees (as decorations). Since their plan involves selling " X amount of gifts to the masses", they call the holiday Xmas. But, as could be expected, things don't turn out as they planned: Santa is actually real.
Sheep in the Big City has "Clearance Day," an obvious comment on the commercialization of the holiday season. The holiday was invented by Clarence von Clearance when he discovered that there was a whole week on the calendar with no holidays in it.
Dave the Barbarian has Harvest Day, complete with its own version of Santa Claus, the Harvest Hog.
My Little Pony: Twinkle Wish Adventure has the Winter Wishes Festival, which has all the trappings of Christmas, but is never referred to anything other than "holiday." The main attraction of the festival is placing the Twinkle Wish Star on top of the Ever-Forevergreen tree, a huge pine tree in the center of town, decorated with ornaments and colored lights. Once the star is up there, it grants everyone "one holiday wish."
This seems to be a unicorn thing as the ponies in Ponyville celebrate Christmas, as shown in A Very Minty Christmas.
One episode is about the pony equivalent of Christmas, "Hearth's Warming Eve". It's also about the founding fillies of Equestria using friendship to survive and defeat a long winter, making it more of a collision between a National Day and Thanksgiving which is just celebrated using typical Christmas decorations.
In "Winter Wrap Up", Rainbow Dash alludes to the "awesome holidays" that apparently dot the entire winter season, so there may be more of these that haven't yet been mentioned.
They also have their equivalents of Halloween (Nightmare Night, which celebrates the legend of Nightmare Moon as centuries of poor history education had led everyone to understand her) and Valentine's Day (Hearts and Hooves Day, which apparently takes place during spring or early fall).
And depending on your perspective, you could throw in a couple of pagan holidays as well: the Summer Sun Celebration (Summer Solstice) and Winter Wrap-Up (Vernal Equinox, albeit a day early and with a focus on actually physically changing the seasons).
Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends adores this trope. Among the holidays referenced include Valentine's Day (Heartwood Day), Halloween (Bug-a-Boo Day) and Christmas (Holly Day).
The latest incarnation of Strawberry Shortcake has the inhabitants of Berry Bitty City celebrating First Frost, which is essentially the solstice, but with a little bit of Thanksgiving thrown in for good measure. The celebration includes marching through the patch with berry lanterns (in remembrance of the first settlers of BBC, who did so to save their crops), giving gifts (only the girls do this, though. The Berrykins have their own tradition that isn't mentioned), and ends with a fancy dress ball called the Glimmerberry Ball.
Quoting the listing for The Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special: Po learns that his duties as Dragon Warrior will prevent him from spending his favorite holiday, the Winter Feast, with his family.
In Ruby Gloom, instead of Christmas they celebrate Yam Ween.
Frosty Returns has the characters celebrate a "Winter Festival" without ever mentioning Christmas. This seems especially strange since CBS always airs Frosty the Snowman before it, and the two specials share DVDs and Blu-Ray Discs, and that contains a frequent number of references to Christmas.
How to Train Your Dragon has a short special called Gift of the Night Fury, in which the Vikings celebrate “Snoggletog” by decorating a big green tree, hanging up lights, exchanging gifts, and so on. Astrid decides she wants to start some new holiday traditions. Among other things, she serves a drink called Yak-Nog. The need to make up a new holiday for this franchise seems a bit odd, since it's an historical fact that the vikings celebrated Yule or the Winter Solstice long before the Nordic countries were christened.
Hiccup: Why we chose such a stupid name remains a mystery.
Team Umizoomi has "Just Because I Love You Day" for Valentine's Day.
The "Winter Harvest Festival" on the planet of Galaluna in Sym-Bionic Titan. On Earth, Ilana plans the school's dance (which is in winter, or at least snow) in the style of her planet's festival, but nothing indicates it's Christmastime in Illinois.
An early South Park episode had Kyle's mother complain about the Nativity play the school were running and the Christians countering that references to Santa should be taken out. By the time the play comes around, it's "The Happy, Non-Offensive, Non-Denominational Christmas Play" with Philip Glass composing the soundtrack. It goes about as well as expected.
The citizens of Gravity Falls apparently love Halloween so much, they celebrate it a second time in late June and call it "Summerween". Aside from the jack-o-lanterns carved out of watermelons and the presence of a sinister "Summerween Trickster", it has the typical trappings of Halloween.
Because Halloween is the day that The Smurfs celebrate Jokey's birthday, a similar holiday called Spook-A-Smurf Eve is celebrated by the main characters in the cartoon episode "Monster Smurfs." There's also Smurfy Friendship Day, which is basically a second Valentine's Day for the Smurfs, and the Feast Of Plenty, which is probably the closest thing they have to a Thanksgiving.
Dinosaur Train shows the denizens of the Mesozoic celebrate the winter solstice. In addition, the northern Troodon also celebrate a "Festival of Lights" (the "lights" referring to the aurora borealis).
In Sofia the First, the kingdom of Enchancia celebrates "Wassailia" during a certain day in winter. It's as grand and family-togetherness-based as Christmas, and the traditional décor is only slightly different...while the holiday is not given an actual origin.
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 it is basically a celebration of military victory, the religious equivalent of V-J Day, 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.