For those of us who don't partake in the Christmas festivities, there are still many great ways to celebrate the winter holidays. And obviously, since there are also many television characters who are also on the outside looking in when it comes to Santa, stockings and trees, not to mention the whole birth of Jesus thing, the small screen offers plenty of plot lines that don't involve chestnuts roasting on an open fire and celebrate, well, a wide range of festivities. From other religious occasions to some made-up favorites (or even modifications), here are six examples that show how to have a great holiday while your Christian friends rub all their cheer in your face. And why mess around? We might as well start with what I think is now the most famous TV alternative to Christmas…
Yes, yes, it's for the rest of us. No need to yell! I won't bore you with the details of how Seinfeld's alternative to Christmas was born - Festivus' birth is a story best saved for the characters themselves in the video above - but Frank Costanzas' creation remains probably the most famous and fun made-up holiday. Not fun for the participants, of course, because there is certain little to be jolly about once the pole gets dragged out of the basement and you're staring a riled up Jerry Stiller in the face. To be completely fair, feats of strength and airing grievances are the subtext of most family gatherings anyway, why not bring just push them to the forefront? Let's begin: "I got a lot of problems with you people, now you're going to hear about it!"
Unlike a few of the sillier entries on the list, Kwanzaa is a very real holiday which I know shamelessly little about. Too bad there's not a rap song about the week long holiday common amongst the African American diaspora (thanks, Wikipedia). There is? Courtesy of Futurama's Kwanzaabot (voiced by none other than Coolio), we can learn a little bit about the December 26 to January 1 celebration along with the Planet Express crew as they visit Hermes for the holidays. And you better listen up because Kwanzaa will be especially important if Matt Groening's vision of the future is correct and Christmas becomes the Xmas depicted in his animated series. Let's just say Robot Santa is not someone you want sliding down your chimney. Now, "Hannukah Zombie's having a luau at the B'nai B'rith. You coming?"
From SNL's "Hanukkah Song" by Adam Sandler and Jon Lovitz' Hanukkah Harry to South Park's Kyle Broflofski being a "Lonely Jew on Christmas" there is certainly no shortage of chosen people on the small screen. I mean, we do own the media after all, so the holiday season is certainly not gong to slip by without making many memorable references to the Festival of Lights. South Park's Kyle usually goes along with his friend's Christmas capers, often involving another alternative tradition in Mr. Hanky, but it doesn't always help with the feeling of ostracization that's part and parcel of being part of a minority religion. And it's damn near impossible to shake it when you're friends with Cartman. Our games are not stupid!
Hybrid Holidays like Chrismukkah
Okay. I'll come clean. All this time (well, this list) I've been claiming to be part of the chosen people but in reality I'm much more of a mutt. And in an even more real reality I don't prescribe to any religion but that makes the holidays look like this. So, back to being half-Jewish, half-Christian and how the holiday hybridization known as Chrismukkah, made popular by the The OC's Cohens and Nichols, is a personal one. Although I never shared Seth's unbridled enthusiasm or belief in miracles, I did enjoy watching another family scrabble over which holiday to celebrate before ending up with the winning combination (I prefer Hannumas but whatever). And if two holidays smushed together isn't enough, who could forget Virgin Mobile's Chrismahanukwanzakah ads truly try to please everybody.
The fact that you have likely not seen Star Wars: The Holiday Special speaks for itself. George Lucas thinks it's so bad that even he won't make it readily available! George Phantom Menace, Crystal Skull, A New Hope (wait, that movie kicks ass) Lucas. Need more convincing? I'm a fan of Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (nostalgia's a powerful drug) and even I can't get through all of Leia singing Happy Life Day without contemplating the dark side. It's not even fun bad. Having said that, enjoy the aired-only-once TV special that finds the iconic characters engaging celebrating a Wookiee alternative to Christmas called Life Day. In theory it all sounds great though, I mean, who doesn't want to spend the special season with Chewbacca's family Kashyyyk? That's Chewy, Itchy, Malla and Lumpy. Yep.
A Community College Grab bag!
The official stance at Greendale is one of devout secularism, lead by the Dean, Mr. Winter, but the study group itself offers a nice cross section of society. There's Shirley's nagging about that too popular holiday and Annie's proclivities for the Festival of Lights. Abed representing Ramadan while Troy's doesn't celebrate anything, being a loyal Jehovah's Witness. Britta's Atheism matches nicely with her hatred of crass commercialization as Piece practices some non-cultish Budhism. Oh, and don't forget Jeff's too cool to care agnosticism. The message: it's important to respect all religions and however people want to celebrate the holidays. Unless you're a lazy Agnostic or it involves lasers. The clip I wanted to include from "Comparative Religion" wasn't available so we'll have to settle for TroBed rapping to save Christmas. Oh well.