The world may be under attack and humanity on the verge of extinction, but people will still find a way to celebrate the holidays. We explain how you’ll celebrate Christmas at the end of the world.
“The Best Christmas Ever” by James Patrick Kelly: The last man on Earth tends to get depressed about his post-apocalyptic existence. So Aunty Em, one of the biops tasked with keeping him company, tries to cheer him up by having Christmas. But the only thing the last man wants for Christmas is a gun.
“The Star” by Arthur C. Clarke: An expedition to a far off star system discovers that the first Christmas was itself apocalyptic. The Star of Bethlehem shone so brightly on the night Jesus was born because it had gone supernova long before, killing all the inhabitants of an orbiting planet. That God would kill one civilization to light the night sky causes the journey’s Jesuit priest to experience a crisis of fate, but in The Twilight Zone adaptation, the civilization was aware of the significance of the supernova and accepted their fate without regret.
Peace on Earth: This 1939 cartoon from MGM was nominated for an Academy Award and, according to some reports, the Nobel Peace Prize (although the latter is likely just a widespread rumor). In a post-apocalyptic world populated entirely by animals, Christmas is still celebrated. When a pair of young squirrels ask who the “men” are in the carol lyric “good will to men,” their grandfather tells them about the pugnacious humans and the war that finally killed them off.
Good Will to Men: MGM had the cartoon remade in 1955 by none other than William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Thus time, a group of mice learn that mankind destroyed itself in a thermonuclear war, leaving animals to pick up the pieces of civilization.
Judge Dredd “Red Christmas”: A Judge in one of the Mega-Cities where the remnants of humanity dwell, Joe Dredd would rather spend Christmas hunting down criminals than exchanging gifts. But his fawning house droid, Walter the Wobot, insists on a small holiday party.
Woops! “Say It Ain’t So Santa”: After a nuclear holocaust wipes out most of humanity, a small group of survivors celebrate Christmas in an attempt to cling to some sense of normality. But the festivities take a disturbing turn when they discover Santa Claus, sole survivor of the North Pole, stuck in their chimney.
Cleopatra 2525 “Choices”: The midrift-baring trio of women explores the lower levels of the underground tunnels and discover Christmas Town, an artificial environment designed to resemble 20th Century Earth’s winter, but perpetually decorated with brightly colored lights.
“Vexed to Nightmare by a Rocking Cradle” by Dan Simmons: After an unnamed apocalypse, a tribe of people continue to celebrate Christmas, raiding old warehouses for gifts and cans of fruit. When a televangelist-worshipping missionary comes to deliver the Word of God, they don’t suspect the man comes with bloody intentions.
The Last Christmas by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn: After a nuclear war transforms much of humanity into zombies, a group of renegade humans end up killing Mrs. Claus. The despondent Santa realizes he can’t die as long as there are good children who believe in him. He sets out to break the spell of his immortality, but ends up cutting a swath through the legions of undead.
“Christmas at Ground Zero” by Weird Al Yankovic: Weird Al gleefully sings about a world-ending nuclear attack on Christmas Day, during which we will apparently, duck and cover: