Follow TV Tropes


Playing With / Away in a Manger

Go To

Basic Trope: A woman gives birth at Christmas in a fashion symbolic of the birth of Jesus Christ.

  • Straight: Mary gives birth to a baby boy on Christmas Eve.
  • Exaggerated: The circumstances of Mary's labour completely mirror the story of the Nativity to the exact detail, right down to the presence of animals, shepherds and 'wise men' when she gives birth.
  • Downplayed: Stacey gives birth to a baby girl on Christmas Eve.
  • Justified:
    • Mary's due date falls around the Christmas period.
    • The child that Mary is carrying is literally the Second Coming.
  • Inverted:
    • Mary becomes pregnant at Christmas.
    • A Jesus-like figure dies on Christmas. Bonus points if they were born on Easter.
  • Subverted:
    • Mary feels labour pains at Christmas, but it turns out to be a false alarm. She doesn't actually give birth for another couple of weeks.
    • Mary miscarries or gives birth to a stillborn baby during the Christmas period.
    • Mary gives birth to the Anti-Christ at Christmas.
  • Doubly Subverted:
    • Mary experiences labour pains, but it turns out to be a false alarm. Then, it turns out that she is in labour after all, and gives birth.
    • The pains on December 24 are a false alarm, but Mary winds up giving birth on Orthodox Christmas (7 January at the moment), complete with all the trimmings.
    • He turns out to be an Anti Anti Christ and therefore heroic.
  • Advertisement:
  • Parodied: Mary is actually cast as Mary in a Nativity play as a little joke because she's pregnant. She ends up actually giving birth in the middle of the play.
  • Zig Zagged: ???
  • Averted:
    • Although pregnant, Mary doesn't give birth or show any signs of giving birth during the Christmas period.
    • Mary's pregnancy doesn't coincide with the Christmas season, or if it does it's in too early a stage for her to give birth.
  • Enforced: The writers have had a Christmas Episode commissioned and have decided to do an old standard for the season in lieu of anything else.
  • Lampshaded: Mary, an atheist, exasperatedly points out how irritating it is to fall into labour in the exact same circumstances as the Nativity.
  • Invoked:
    • Mary belongs to a fundamentalist Christian sect which believes that the child she is carrying is the messiah, and have induced Mary's labour at Christmas for the symbolic value.
    • Advertisement:
    • The child Mary is carrying actually is the Second Coming; it turns out his father likes the symbolism...
  • Exploited: ???
  • Defied:
    • Mary makes a point of avoiding anything even a little bit religious themed over the Christmas period in order to avoid having her pregnancy associated with it.
    • Mary avoids having unprotected sex at a time when, if she became pregnant, her due date would coincide with the Christmas period.
  • Discussed: "I swear, if any pregnant ladies called Mary or wise men following a star looking for a pregnant lady called Mary turn up this year, I'm cancelling Christmas."
  • Conversed: Wow, they're laying on the symbolism a bit thick in this episode, aren't they?" It's Christmas — what do you expect?"
  • Implied: The Chosen One, now grown-up, mentions in casual conversation that that his or her birthday happens to fall on Christmas Day, but goes into no further detail.
  • Deconstructed:
    • The story actively points out that December 24th-25th is just a date like any other, and that lots of pregnant women happen give birth on that date, and there's nothing special about it; it's just centuries of Judeo-Christian tradition putting meaning where there is none.
    • And that if historical research is to be believed, it wasn't in all likelihood or actuality the birthdate of Jesus anyway.
  • Reconstructed: The story acknowledges that all the above is true — but then points out that Mary's case is a little more special than these others...
  • Played For Laughs: Circumstances surrounding Mary's labour are contrived to look as much like the Nativity as possible; three 'wise men' bearing gifts appear, the place is filled with stable animals for some bizarre reason (and the story is set in an urban which would not normally have stable animals nearby anyway), a 'star' appears in the sky right above where Mary is giving birth and even a couple of shepherds (on their way to the Annual Shepherds And Livestock Keepers Christmas Party) turn up. This does not escape the notice of the characters, who lampshade it with increasing bewilderment.
  • Played For Drama: Joe, an embittered Straw Atheist, finds himself helping Mary, a poor homeless woman expecting a child at Christmas, through circumstances which share similarity to the Nativity story. The experience helps him rediscover his faith or at least ease his demons.

Back to Away in a Manger

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: