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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S6 E8 "A Hearth's Warming Tail"

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Enjoy Hearth's Warming Eve or else...

Everypony loves this cursed holiday
But would they be better off with it out of the way?
Snowfall Frostnote 

Written by Michael Vogel
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As Hearth's Warming Eve approaches, the ponies of Ponyville gather in Twilight's castle, decorating it for a grand celebration of the holiday. However, Starlight Glimmer has decided to skip the party, saying that she doesn't think the holiday is all that special. To help convince her otherwise, Twilight takes Starlight and Spike into her library to read Starlight an old story about a mare named Snowfall Frost.

Snowfall Frost was a pony who hated Hearth's Warming Eve, saying that ponies should spend all their time working for the betterment of Equestria, not believing the old legends of ponies coming together to stop the Windigos. After being interrupted from her spellwork one too many times, Snowfall sends her assistant Snow Dash home early to avoid any more distractions. When she still can't concentrate due to the celebrations outside, Snowfall elects to create a spell that will cause all of Equestria to forget about Hearth's Warming Eve. As she prepares to cast the spell, a spirit arises from her cauldron, introducing herself as the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past. She shows Snowfall her own past, where Snowfall was quite happy to celebrate Hearth's Warming Eve with everypony else, until a cruel teacher named Flintheart told her that she was wasting her time. He repeats that Snowfall ought to be spending all of her time working for the betterment of Equestria, a lesson that Snowfall took to heart.

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As she reappears back in her own chamber, Snowfall is greeted by the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Presents, who shows how happy and joyful that her assistant Snow Dash is, along with how much everypony is enjoying the holiday. The spirit says that the holiday isn't about gifts; it's about being with your friends. As the spirit leaves, Snowfall is surrounded by an ominous coat of ice, greeted by a taller, dark spirit; the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come. That spirit shows Snowfall that forgetting Hearth's Warming Eve will cause all of Equestria to be overtaken by the Windigos, covering the land in eternal frost. Seeing the error of her ways, Snowfall Frost says that she hasn't yet cast the spell, and promises to understand the holiday better. She reappears in her chamber, and takes several gifts down to the same party that Snow Dash and her friends were holding. Snowfall admits that she was wrong, saying that what matters most in the holiday isn't the gifts, but the thought behind them. The ponies of the town welcome her to the party, with Snowfall Frost becoming the most charitable of all ponies around the holiday from that day forward.

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As Twilight finishes the story, she invites Starlight down to the party that the rest of them will have. After some thought, Starlight decides to join in the festivities after all, having learned the same lesson that Snowfall Frost did: it's not the gifts, it's the thought behind them.


Tropes:

  • Actor Allusion: Derpy's accident with the Hearth's Warming ornament is a clear reference to Minty's accident with the Here Comes Christmas Candy Cane in A Very Minty Christmas. Minty and Derpy are both voiced by Tabitha St. Germain.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Unlike Scrooge and his obvious Greed, Snowfall dislikes the holiday mainly because she thinks it's a meaningless distraction, and she honestly believes that Equestria would be better off without the holiday.
  • Adaptational Villainy: While the original Scrooge was certainly not a nice guy at all (until his eventual Character Development), he was merely a cold jerk who just didn't want anything to do with Christmas. Snowfall, however, actively tries to destroy Hearth's Warming Eve with dangerous magic.
  • Adapted Out: There is no Jacob Marley equivalent in this story. According to Jim Miller, this is because there was "Not enough time to cover everything." However, a tweet revealed thatinvoked had Marley made the cut, he would've been portrayed by Discord.
  • Aerith and Bob: The ponies in A Hearth's Warming Tale have typically Equestrian names like Snowfall, Snow Dash, Flutterholly... and Merry, which the casual listener could easily mistake for Mary.
  • An Aesop: Holidays aren't about what you get and what you want, it's about spending time with the ones you love.
  • Alchemy Is Magic: The first spell Snowfall is shown attempting to cast was to turn a rock into gold.
  • And You Were There: All the ponies in A Hearth's Warming Tale look, act, and sound like Equestria's present-day residents (with the exception of Professor Flintheart, who is a new character). Lampshaded by Starlight accusing Twilight of voicing the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Presents with "[her] Pinkie Pie voice".
  • Anthropomorphic Zig-Zag: Luna, as The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come, appears to be standing on her hind legs the entire time. At the very least, that's the best explanation as to how she towers over Snowfall.
  • Apocalypse How: Regional or Continental. The Bad Future the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come shows Snowfall sees Equestria buried under an Endless Winter caused by the returning Windigos if her spell succeeds.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Snowfall doesn't believe in the Windigos, despite all the other crazy stuff that exists in Equestria, including the spirits.
  • Aside Glance: Snowfall concludes the last note of her Villain Song by giving a knowing look to the audience.
  • Bad Future: The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come shows Snowfall a future where her spell succeeded, causing the Windigos to return and bury Equestria underneath an Endless Winter.
  • Bait-and-Switch: A Hearth's Warming Tale begins with Snowfall Frost attempting to ruin Hearth's Warming for everypony by removing all memory and record of it, but quickly shifts to Yet Another Christmas Carol.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come shows Snowfall the future were she succeeded in her desire to erase Hearth's Warming. While she was successful in erasing the holiday, ponies aren't exactly able to work towards a brighter future when Equestria is covered in an Endless Winter.
  • Black Cloak: The dress of choice for the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come. The bottom of it constantly flows back into itself, and as it sports Luna's coat color and black markings, as well as her wings sprouting from it, it's hard to tell whether it's an actual garment or is part of her body.
  • Blush Sticker:
    • In the opening, Lemon Hearts and the stallion she's kissing under mistletoe both blush bright pink.
    • Twilight gets very pink cheeks when Starlight mentions that she's "doing her Pinkie Pie voice."
  • Bookends: The episode opens with the song "Hearth's Warming Eve Is Here Once Again", to put the audience in a holiday mood. It is reprised at the end, with Starlight Glimmer joining the singers.
  • Bowel-Breaking Bricks: The present Spike holds poops out a candy cane when he and Twilight hear that Starlight Glimmer wants to skip Hearth's Warming Eve.
  • Bowdlerise: Not surprisingly, the verse where the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Presents mentions cider and drinks a sip is taken out of the UK airing.
  • Brief Accent Imitation:
    • Twilight sings the last part of the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Presents' song in her "Pinkie Pie voice", despite denying it afterward in embarrassment.
    • Snow Dash repeats Snowfall Frost's opinion of Hearth's Warming to her friends, imitating the unicorn's mannerisms, including wearing the same pince-nez and having her mane switch shape to copy Snowfall's bangs.
  • Broken Aesop: This episode presents a Space Whale Aesop and then breaks it. The Scrooge expy of the story isn't confronted with the idea of her own lonely death at the end, she instead finds out that the folk story of togetherness driving away the monsters of endless winter is completely and literally true, and celebrating on Hearth's Warming Eve is more or less an elaborate ritual that keeps them from returning. If she erases the day from the calendar, they'll return. This convinces her, and the pony hearing the story, about the true meaning of the holiday being about showing love for your friends, but the true meaning is not getting killed by monster-driven winter. It undercuts the idea of sincerely celebrating your friends and family to have all of pony-kind being forced to celebrate on a specific day, lest their civilization be destroyed.
  • Buffy Speak: "...and from then on, it was always said of all the Hearth's Warming Eve celebrations, Snowfall's was the Hearth's Warmingest. The End."
  • Call-Back:
  • Casting Gag: Twilight's "Pinkie Pie voice" harkens back to Tara Strong's original audition for Pinkie Pie, whom she also voiced in an episode of MAD. (Ironically, it's Rebecca Shoichet who provides Twilight's "Pinkie Pie voice".)
  • Character Overlap: Within the fictional context of the "Hearth's Warming Eve" pageant and A Hearth's Warming Tale, the Windigos are characters featured in both. Of course, it is strongly implied they are not mythical at all, which would make them instead an example of Historical-Domain Character for Equestria.
  • Christmas Carolers: We see ponies gathered in the streets to sing Hearth's Warming Eve songs, both in present Ponyville (with Octavia Melody as conductor) and inside A Hearth's Warming Tale's Victorian setting.
  • Christmas Episode: The third, after "Hearth's Warming Eve" and "Hearthbreakers". Amusingly, much like "Hearthbreakers", it didn't actually air anytime close to Christmas.
  • Christmas Songs: The opening song "Hearth's Warming Eve Is Here Once Again", which is reprised at the end, is a spot-on Equestrian equivalent of your typical Christmas carol.
  • Circling Monologue: Well, there is no monologue since the Windigos are silent, but the way they circle around Snowfall Frost is very creepy, especially since it is the moment where the realization of what she was about to do crashes onto her, and she starts sinking into despair.
  • Composite Character:
    • Snowfall Frost is one of the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge. She is disgusted with the holiday and plans to get rid of it so no-one will celebrate it ever again, but undergoes a Heel–Face Turn after being visited by three ghosts who show her the error of her ways.
    • Since there is no Jacob Marley equivalent in the story, the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past gives Snowfall the initial warning that the Marley character would have.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Convenience Store Gift Shopping: When Snowfall decides to join the party, she brings along gifts that she just grabbed off her shelves, and admits that she was in kind of a hurry. Snow Dash, however, is apparently thrilled by her gift of dragon toenail.
  • Crosscast Role: Possibly, In-Universe — as with Rainbow Dash's previous role in the "Hearth's Warming Eve" pageant (as Commander Hurricane), it isn't entirely clear whether Snow Dash is supposed to be male or female.
  • Crystal-Ball Scheduling: Snowfall's story is essentially a condensed, holiday-themed version of Starlight's character arc from the previous season: from blowing the notion of something out of proportion thanks to a past trauma, to creating something she hopes will "fix" it that will only cause more damage to the point of apocalyptic levels, and finally some friends who show her the error of her ways and help her reform.
  • Darker and Edgier: If anything, the vision that the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come shows Snowfall is not only much grimmer than nearly anything seen in the show, it is even darker than the original Dickens tale. There, it focuses on the unmourned death of an unloved man; here, it shows the complete desolation of life as we know it.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come is a dark and imposing figure with a booming voice. Her looks and scary presence could easily make plenty of straight villains envious. Yet her purpose is entirely benevolent, aiming at discouraging Snowfall Frost from casting the spell by showing her the dire consequences that would result. She's simply not afraid of using Scare 'em Straight as a tactic.
  • Disapproving Look: Twilight gives a few annoyed looks to Spike (while covering him with her wing) after he points out Starlight's hypocrisy at calling Snowfall's reaction extreme.
  • Disaster Dominoes: What Snowfall's spell will entail. Without Hearth's Warming Eve, ponies will forget that the reason behind the holiday was that the three species of ponies were able to get along and set aside their differences to build Equestria and live in harmony. This in turn will likely cause in-fighting again which will bring the Windigos who will be powered by the discord and cover all of Equestria in a never-ending snowstorm.
  • Disneyfication: Unlike the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, who simply stood silent and imposing, directing Scrooge through a possible future if he didn't change his ways, the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come introduces herself speaking with Power Echoes and sings a song about what would become of Equestria if Snowfall completed her spell. This makes the spirit's message easier for young children to understand and is less likely to give them nightmares of silent shadows.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Snowfall nearly invokes Apocalypse How on all of Equestria just to get rid of one holiday. Not unexpected, though, considering whom she's portrayed by.
  • Dramatic Wind: From the moment Luna as the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come opens her wings, frigid winds and snow blow all over the frozen landscape of the future Equestria. This doesn't stop for all of her song, and even gets worse when the Windigos appear. You feel the cold watching this.
  • Dreaming of a White Christmas: Invoked in the very opening song: when you have pegasi around to control the weather, it's a pretty sure bet you'll have a snowy Hearth's Warming Eve. A Hearth's Warming Tale also portrays all three holiday times as covered in snow; pretty justified since it's a story (based on A Christmas Carol to boot), and the whole point of Hearth's Warming Eve is for ponies to gather close to each other to endure winter and shoo the cold — as personified by the Windigos — away.
  • Eat the Camera: Early on in Snowfall Frost's song, "Say Goodbye to the Holiday", on a long note the camera zooms straight inside her mouth, filling the screen purple with her trembling uvula.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Kelly Sheridan sounds like she's having tons of fun singing "Say Goodbye to the Holiday".
  • Evil Teacher: Professor Flintheart is cruel and berates Snowfall for wasting her time celebrating Hearth's Warming when she should spend it working towards the betterment of Equestria.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Starlight in Snowfall form uses her "evil" hairstyle from season 5, while regular Starlight stays with her reformed hairstyle.
  • Eye Cam: Snowfall's trip to the past along with the first spirit ends up with a P.O.V. shot of her cauldron with eyelid opening and vision coming back in focus, leaving her unsure she dreamed it or not.
  • Fade Around the Eyes: Snowfall Frost's solo Villain Song concludes with the light dimming until only her eyes stay visible. Then we go to a commercial break.
  • Fantastic Light Source: The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come is cloaked in darkness until the moment she lights up her horn.
  • Fog Feet: For the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come, the bottom of her cloak seems to be ghostly and immaterial, with wisps of smoke curling into themselves constantly, mixing the same colors as Luna's usual mane.
  • Foreshadowing: The horses of smoke coming out of the cauldron during Snowfall's Villain Song hint at the Windigos returning if she finishes her spell.
  • Framing Device: The main story is framed by Twilight telling the story to Starlight on Hearth's Warming Eve.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: During "Say Goodbye to the Holiday", when Snowfall is flipping through her spellbook, the page she initially stops on depicts a rock, a unicorn horn, and a chunk of gold — the spell she was trying to cast at the beginning before the bellringers broke her concentration.
  • Friend or Idol Decision: Flintheart gives Snowfall the choice "Spend your time learning to become a powerful unicorn, or play with your toys and make nothing of yourself". Evidently, she chooses the former, causing her to start hating Hearth's Warming.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Once again, everypony drinks apple cider as though it were hard cider or wassail.
  • Funny Background Event: In the reprisal of "Hearth's Warming Eve Is Here Once Again", when everyone is singing in unison, DJ Pon-3 can be seen nodding her head to the lyrics due to her being The Voiceless.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: One of the first ponies shown getting a mug of cider is Berry Punch, whom writers and fans alike consider The Alcoholic. Just to hammer it home, her mug fills to the lyric "making merry".
  • Ghostly Chill: Snowfall shivers violently when the immaterial Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past walks through her.
  • Ghostly Glide: The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come doesn't walk or fly, but creepily glides around in her long coat.
  • Glowing Eyes: The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come initially appears as a completely dark figure, but with glowing white eyes to show she means business.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Windigos are the reason Hearth's Warming Eve is necessary, and would cause destruction on a scale far beyond Snowfall's willingness otherwise.
  • The Grinch: Even though Snowfall is clearly seen as one throughout the story, Professor Flintheart, the one responsible for her turn, is even worse.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Just like The Scrooge and The Grinch, Snowfall also undergoes one through the course of the episode.
  • Homage: The story takes elements from two well-known Christmas tales: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (Snowfall's attempt at ruining Hearth's Warming for everyone via a memory-erasing spell) and A Christmas Carol (Snowfall despising Christmas and three spirits that show her the past, present and future).
  • How the Character Stole Christmas: A Hearth's Warming Tale is mostly Yet Another Christmas Carol, but the start of Snowfall Frost's story is about her trying to ruin Hearth's Warming for everypony. It includes the aspect of stealing some trappings of the holiday, although in this case it's to use as components for her memory-erasing spell.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When Starlight points out that Snowfall's plan is a little extreme just based on an overblown opinion, Spike points out that she's not exactly one to talk.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: The scene change of the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Presents announcing a song inside Snowfall's house, and then starting it outside is Pinkie Pie... sorry, the Spirit grabbing the top of the screen and pulling it down like a shutter.
  • Incoming Ham: "SNOWFALL FROST! It is I, the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Presents!" While bursting out of a giant gift box to boot. Of course, she's portrayed by Pinkie Pie, so a hammy entrance is a given.
  • Intangibility: The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past, being a ghost, is naturally immaterial, although Snowfall Frost feels a Ghostly Chill when she walks through her. Snowfall herself is intangible too (and obviously invisible) while transported to her own past, as we see when her younger self just trots through her.
  • Intermission: Invoked by Spike, who asks for a break to refill his mug of cocoa. Also goes to the next commercial break.
  • Jerkass: Professor Flintheart. Telling a little filly the tale of Hearth's Warming Eve is "just a story" is as cruel as telling a human kid there's no Santa Claus.
  • Kids Prefer Boxes: It seems Mr. and Mrs. Cake have already learned this. During the opening song, Pumpkin and Pound Cake can be seen playing in a plain brown box.
  • Knight Templar: Snowfall honestly believes that her spell making everypony forget about the holiday would make Equestria better, as there would be nothing left to distract them from putting in more hard work and effort.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Snowfall's spell would have made everypony forget that the holiday has ever existed in the first place.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Halfway through the story, Spike interrupts Twilight by asking for a break... right before an actual commercial break.
  • Leitmotif: Professor Flintheart has a grim and serious tune playing anytime he's talking, which pauses when young Snowfall is answering him.
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: Twilight decides the best way to convince Starlight to embrace the spirit of Hearth's Warming is to read a story to her about another pony very similar to Starlight. The story (or at least Starlight's interpretation of it) also happened to be filled with characters similar to Twilight and Starlight's friends and neighbors.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Implied, with just a hint of Not That There's Anything Wrong with That. After finishing the story, Twilight tells Starlight that she can "call it a night", but is welcome to join the party downstairs if she decides to embrace the spirit of the holiday.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: As with the original A Christmas Carol, it is unclear whether Snowfall Frost was actually visited by the Spirits of Hearth's Warming or she simply dreamed it. Whether the Windigos are real or mythical is also left open, since the story itself is not explicitly historical fact or fictional literature.
  • Magic Music: It may or may not be literal, but it is part of the general holiday, as seen in the lyrics for "Hearth's Warming Eve is Here Once Again!" "We're so busy making merry/Windigos should all be wary/As our mighty voices carry...."
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Snowfall Frost doesn't owe her name just to the winter setting or her cold (at first) personality, but from the fact that if she'd had her way, Equestria would have been blanketed in snow and frost.
    • Professor Flintheart has a flinty personality. It's also a highly appropriate name for someone connected to a Scrooge.
  • Monochrome Apparition: The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past is gray and semi-transparent.
  • Musical Episode: The fourth after "Magical Mystery Cure", "Pinkie Pride", and "Crusaders of the Lost Mark". Unlike the others, this one doesn't feature major changes to the show or a guest star who happens to be a famous musician, but the musical take does fit a Christmas Episode quite well.
  • Musical Exposition: The Spirits of Hearth's Warming Past, Presents, and Yet to Come deliver the bulk of their exposition in song.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Or rather "What Was I Going to Do?!" as the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come shows Snowfall what will happen if she goes through with the spell: The Windigos will grow out of control and blanket all of Equestria in eternal winter to the point of causing an ice age.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • To the IDW comic series. In one of their issues, Spike and Twilight read each other stories while snowed-in at a train station. In this episode, Twilight reads Starlight a story.
    • Derpy breaking the ornament harks back to Minty breaking the Here Comes Christmas Candy Cane in the G3 special A Very Minty Christmas. Doubles as an Actor Allusion, since both are voiced by Tabitha St. Germain.invoked
    • Flutterholly worrying about the eggnog ("I knew I put in too much cinnamon...") echoes Sonata Dusk wondering if there's a problem with the fruit punch ("I knew I used too much grape juice...") in My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks.
  • Narrator: Twilight Sparkle fulfills this role for the episode, as she's reading A Hearth's Warming Tale to Starlight and Spike, including the viewers who are watching the episode. Not too Lemony, save for the one time she starts gushing about Star Swirl the Bearded.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past walks right through Snowfall while she's talking.
  • Not So Different: Starlight and Snowfall are this. Both started out as sweet kids but a traumatic experience made them change for the worse. They both grow up to be bitter and angry at a concept (cutie marks for Starlight and Hearth's Warming for Snowfall) that causes them to act against it drastically. They eventually change for the better when they see how badly the future will end up if they succeed.
  • Obliviously Evil: Snowfall honestly thought that her spell would make Equestria better, believing the Windigos to be nothing more than a filly's tale and not realizing the threat they actually pose.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Predictable since the character is portrayed by Pinkie Pie. The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Presents disappears after sliding down a pile of gift boxes and pops out of another box moments later. She also uses bursts of Super Speed for the same effect.
  • Orbital Shot: A few in this episode. Notably, Snowfall Frost's solo song, "Say Goodbye to the Holiday", includes a shot where she's twirling on herself, while the point of view turns around her in the opposite direction. Also seen during the "Pinkie's Present" song, with the "camera" orbiting Snowfall in the street. Those instances are short as not to draw much attention, but are nice bits of animation invoking a 3D feel.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Deconstructed. Snowfall and Flintheart are some of the few ponies who think the Windigos were just a fabricated part of Equestria's history meant to spook foals into being nice to each other. As Snowfall soon discovers, the Windigos and the threat they pose to Equestria are all too real.
  • Pensieve Flashback: The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past and Snowfall Frost are watching a scene from the latter's past while casually walking through it, unseen and immaterial.
  • Power Crystal: Within the world of A Hearth's Warming Tale, the ponies are not shown to use fire but glowing, orange crystals that seem to provide both light and heat. Unusually for this trope, that's quite the Mundane Utility.
  • Power Echoes: The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come is the most imposing and scary of all three spirits. Naturally, she has a booming voice that echoes a lot.
  • Powers That Be: As the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past explains, Snowfall Frost attempting to cast a spell erasing Hearth's Warming Eve attracted the attention of "powerful forces". She stays vague on their exact nature.
    Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past: You don't think a spell like that would get by without some powerful forces noticin'? You got our attention, Snowfall Frost.
  • Pun: The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Presents (as in gifts, not the time).
  • Pun-Based Title: The episode title is a horse pun on A Hearth's Warming Tale.
  • Real After All: In-universe, Snowfall believes the Windigo are fables. Boy is she wrong!
  • Reality Warper: All three spirits have the power to alter their surroundings in some way to fulfill their mission. The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past can fly, controls a lasso and other things by telekinesis, drags Snowfall with her into a Pensieve Flashback and makes a pine tree de-age to a sapling. The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Presents materializes gifts all over the place and apparently heals a young infirm colt of his lameness to allow him to tap-dance; she also uses Offscreen Teleportation and leans very heavily on the fourth wall (but that's usual for Pinkie Pie). The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come brings Snowfall to a snowbound future and creates illusions to demonstrate her point. Ironically, the first two are portrayed by Applejack and Pinkie Pie, who as earth ponies don't normally have such magic, unlike alicorn Luna, but they're actually manifestations of the Powers That Be.
  • Record Needle Scratch: Snowfall Frost's arrival at the party causes this sound as the background music stops. Might be happening in-universe, as we saw Vinyl Scratch working a phonograph earlier.
  • Ret Gone: Snowfall Frost's spell would have removed Hearth's Warming from Equestria's calendar for all time and from all living memory.
  • Ritual Magic: Hearth's Warming Eve is not just a holiday. It is a yearly ritual that utilizes the Magic of Friendship to keep Windigos away and prevent an Endless Winter. Although the exact nature of the ritual (activities, presents, etc.) can change with the family or culture, the purpose is the same. It's ambiguous whether this is the case in the show's real life, but within Snowfall's story, it is true.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The ponies chosen to represent the Spirits of Hearth's Warming Past, Presents, and Yet to Come. Past, represented by Honest Applejack, shows Snowfall the truth of her past and how it led to her current views on Hearth's Warming; Presents, represented by the Party Pony Pinkie Pie, shows Snowfall the importance of parties and spending time with friends during the holiday; Yet to Come, represented by Princess Luna, formerly Nightmare Moon and still a literal Mare of Night, shows Snowfall the potential nightmare future if the spell to erase Hearth's Warming is completed.
  • Rule of Three: The three visitations from the three different spirits, of course, just like in the story it is inspired. Also, Snowfall Frost gets teary-eyed three times, always at the end of each visit.
  • Sailor Fuku: Young Snowfall wears a sailor suit with a boater hat in the past shown by the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: When Snowfall sarcastically tells Snow Dash she should take Hearth's Warming Eve off, Snow Dash rushes out the door before she can even finish.
  • Scare 'em Straight:
    • Just as in the source material, witnessing a vision of a Bad Future is what thoroughly convinces the Ebenezer Scrooge stand-in, Snowfall Frost in this case, to change their anti-holiday ways.
    • Of all the Hearth's Warming Eve tales she could have read to Starlight, Twilight chooses the "Scrooge-like character rejects the holiday and nearly causes the end of the world" one. But no pressure to come down and join the party, Starlight! None at all.
  • The Scrooge: Despite being a reference to the original Scrooge, Snowfall's miserly nature is merely touched upon when she tries to transmute coal into gold.
  • Separate Scene Storytelling: Most of the episode is seeing Twilight's story acted out.
  • Serious Business: From Spike's reaction to Starlight dismissing Hearth's Warming Eve, he does consider it quite serious business, including the presents and candies.
  • Servile Snarker: Snow Dash is described as Snowfall's "loyal assistant," but she isn't above getting in a jab at her boss about Hearth's Warming.
    Snowfall Frost: Those foolish ponies were ringing those blasted bells outside the window and I lost my concentration!
    Snow Dash: Whoa, ponies actually enjoying Hearth's Warming Eve. Where did they get that crazy idea?
  • Ship Tease: Rarity places a sprig of holly (often hung as a substitute for mistletoe) in Fluttershy's mane during the final song.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: As per the original tale and any comedic yet faithful adaptation, once the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Presents (i.e., the ever cheerful Pinkie Pie) bows out of the story, things take a dark and ominous turn.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Show Within a Show: A Hearth's Warming Tale is a classic Equestrian story that shows the wizard Snowfall Frost (fittingly a carbon copy of Starlight Glimmer) who, like Starlight, doesn't appreciate the real meaning of the holiday.
  • Sickly Green Glow: The cauldron where Snowfall is preparing her ominous spell is filled with an opaque green, bubbling liquid that is noticeably glowing.
  • Space Whale Aesop: If you destroy a holiday, your homeland will be devastated by evil spirits. In-universe, however, it is much more likely to be literal (i.e. non space-whale-y).
  • Spit Take: Snow Dash spits her drink (at the exact same time than the Record Needle Scratch) when she notices Snowfall Frost being present at the party.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Derpy sitting on top of the Hearth's Warming Tree: she is the star of the show.
    • For those who prefer the name in the credits for "Slice of Life", the tree has a muffin top.
  • Surprise Creepy: You'd be forgiven if you think a generally lighthearted show such as this would tone down the future sequence or play it for laughs, but no: the shift from bright and hopeful to dark and bleak remains, and it and the slow, mournful song accompanying it rank among the darkest moments in the series.
  • Talks Like a Simile: The song "The Seeds of the Past" is loaded with metaphors and similes comparing life's formative moments and their future consequences to seeds growing into trees. It also has the metaphor of emotional defenses being "walls you built to last".
  • Tempting Fate: During the opening song, Rarity sings "don't let that break" as Derpy is trying to hang an ornament. Naturally, Derpy drops it less than a second later.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: The Ghost of Hearth's Warming Presents (portrayed in-universe by Pinkie Pie) has her sense go off. She says that it means a song is going to happen.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: A ponified Tiny Tim (portrayed in the story by Featherweight) has his cane replaced with tap shoes by the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Presents and he immediately begins dancing with her. Justified, as Presents is one of the "powerful forces" alerted by Snowfall Frost's spell.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: One of the show's Discovery Family commercials shows the cast singing the closing song, spoiling the finale of the episode.
  • True Meaning of Christmas: Delivered in song form by the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Presents.
    Spirit of Hearth's Warming Presents: Yes the reason for the holiday is quite easily found!
    And the reason is to be with your friends.
  • Under the Mistletoe: In the opening, Lemon Hearts kisses a stallion under mistletoe. Of course, being a unicorn, she purposefully makes it hang above them with telekinesis.
  • The Unexpected: Because each of the members of the Mane Six play major roles and Twilight acts as narrator, many viewers were pleasantly surprised that Princess Luna plays the part of the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come.
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast: This episode demonstrates once again the versatility of the cast, with the addition of Starlight Glimmer now allowing for semi-villainous roles.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Flintheart tells Snowfall to work towards the betterment of Equestria. Too bad she took that lesson to heart and tries to make Hearth's Warming disappear, nearly dooming Equestria in the process.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Snowfall loved the holiday as a filly just like anyone else, but then Professor Flintheart's cruel words about the meaninglessness of the holiday got to her, and she took them to heart just to stop the pain.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Once again, the Windigos. This time, their threat is bumped up to a full-on Equestrian apocalypse that involves freezing the entire country in an Endless Winter.
  • Villainous Legacy: Professor Flintheart serves as a Cynicism Catalyst to Snowfall losing her interest in Hearth's Warming as a filly.
  • Villain Song: "Say Goodbye to the Holiday" sung by Snowfall Frost (portrayed in-universe by Starlight Glimmer), where she announces her plan to make Hearth's Warming Eve disappear from the ponies' memories because she views it as pointless.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Not said directly, but the Spirits of Hearth's Warming all tell Snowfall that her plan to erase Hearth's Warming Eve is bad. Past says that she has lost her way and is guided by past pain, Presents shows her all the fun she's missing, and Yet to Come straight up condemns her for the danger she's about to inflict.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: A Hearth's Warming Tale takes several elements from the story: a Villain Protagonist who hates the holiday, a visit by three spirits who take her through time, and a Heel–Face Turn at the end.
  • You Mean "Xmas": While previous depictions of Hearth's Warming Eve have generally avoided making this holiday look too much like Christmas, this one turns the pony holiday into a Christmas ersatz. Although "Christmas trees" were visible as background decorations in Canterlot in "Hearth's Warming Eve", "Hearthbreakers" established that the focus of the celebration was raising an Equestrian flagpole and unifying its three tribes. This episode puts a lot of emphasis on decorating the tree and doesn't show any patriotic aspects to Hearth's Warming at all.

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