Everyone loves a good seasonally-appropriate special, and that usually means Christmas. Unless, of course, you’re a science fiction or fantasy story where real Christmas would make no sense. Then you’ve got to come up with something Christmas-like to fill the void.
Type One: The Satirical and Parodical Kind
This is the best kind of fake Christmas—the kind you’re not meant to take seriously. On the satirical end, there’s Discworld’s Hogswatch, which, being Discworld, winks at the similarities between that world and ours. It’s a book that deconstructs and then reconstructs the whole holiday season.
On the other side is the kind of Christmas that is clearly meant to be a joke. Here you have Futurama’s Xmas, where Christmas has changed into a holiday where people have to be inside before sundown to hide from the evil robot Santa Clause, who kills the naughty. Unfortunately, his subroutines recognizes everyone as naughty.
Other examples: Yaksmas, Ren and Stimpy; “A Solstice Carol,” Xena: Warrior Princess; Snowflake Day, Clone High
Type Two: Generic Winter Festival
This is what happens when it just feels weird to create a world which doesn’t have a some sort of winter celebration. This version of fake Christmas usually has only one or two Christmasy things in it, and the only reason we see it as “Christmas” as opposed to any other winter festival from throughout history is because that’s what’s prominent now.
The Belgariad had Erastide, where a play and gift-giving are the things that read as Christmas. Otherwise, the polytheistic religion’s foundation story bears no resemblance to Christmas. Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books spend significant time on Midwinter, a winter solstice holiday with the usual gift-giving and merriment.
Other examples: Winterfair, Vorkosigan Saga; Midwinter Festival, Heralds of Valdemar; Yule, Dragon Lance
Type 3: Literally the same as Christmas, but with a different name
This is the laziest type of fake Christmas: one where everything, down to Santa Clause, is the same. Sometimes it verges on being self-aware, but it’s not quite a full-comedy use. I’m going to give the standard bearer award to Wicked’s Lurlinemas, an Oz holiday which celebrates the birth of Lurline. Complete with gingerbread, snowball fights, gift giving, greeting people with “happy holidays”... it’s literally Christmas. The only thing missing is the color red. In typical Oz fashion, green got the top billing here.
Other examples: Spare Parts, Big Finish Doctor Who; Alvistide, Sealab 2021; Snoggletog, How to Train Your Dragon; Refrigerator Day, Dinosaurs; Hearth’s Warming Eve, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
Type 4: Not really Christmas at all, but tied to Christmas through timing
Why the two of the biggest science fiction franchises both fell prey to this, I do not know. Star Trek: Voyager brought us Prixin, a holiday for family brought to us by everyone’s favorite character, Neelix! And the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special was centered on the Wookie holiday of Life Day. Which was also about family. And actually a little too solemn for the special it appeared in. According to Wookiepedia, Life Day honors the dead and the young, as evidence that life goes on.
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