The winter holiday season is a time for coming together and celebrating. However, sometimes it can seem as though the only holiday anyone is celebrating come December is Christmas. Where are the other winter holidays? Christmas gets films, songs, specials, and episodes of television dedicated exclusively to the holiday — with one character usually mentioning Hanukkah once, and leaving it at that. But where is the love for people who don't celebrate the Christian holiday? Where are the winter TV episodes not about Christmas?
Thankfully, a number of series have dedicated episodes to holidays like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa to not just celebrate these holidays and their traditions, but also to help inform others. TV shows, especially cartoons directed at young children, serve as great resources for educating people on the cultural significance of other winter holidays. While some shows dedicated their energy to celebrating pre-existing religions, others made up traditions of their own to ensure that no matter what your interest or background, there is a holiday that works for you. Here are some select episodes to tune into this holiday season if you're tired of the Christmas commotion, or want to see your own traditions reflected on-screen.
"The One With The Holiday Armadillo," Friends
When Ross attempts to teach his son about the story of Hanukkah, he has a troubling realization — Christmas just sounds more fun. It has magic, flying reindeer, and a jolly man who leaves presents. Hanukkah's fun doesn't lie in its story, but instead comes from gathering family together, which is difficult to explain to a child. In his desperation to give his son a good holiday, Ross ends up dressing up as the Holiday Armadillo in an attempt to explain Hanukkah in a fun way. Before this episode, putting the words "Holiday" and "Armadillo" next to each other meant absolutely nothing — oh what a dark time that must have been.
"A Rugrats Chanukah," Rugrats
For many a gentile '90s child — myself included — there were a few Rugrats episodes that served as an introduction to the Jewish religion and holidays. A sequel of sorts to "A Rugrats Passover," Tommy's grandmother Minka reads the children the story of the Maccabees and the night's worth of oil that lasted for eight days, as the audience sees their favorite talking babies act out the tale. "A Rugrats Chanukah" is an entertaining and educational, episode of television for all ages.
"Everybody Hates Kwanzaa," Everybody Hates Chris
In the episode "Everybody Hates Kwanzaa," viewers are shown the African-American and Pan-Afraican holiday in a humorous way when Chris' father decides that the family will be celebrating Kwanzaa not just to remember their roots, but also because it is "cheaper than Christmas."
"Seven Days of Kwanzaa," The Proud Family
The Proud Family portrays the celebrations of both Christmas and Kwanzaa in a single episode. The Prouds bring in a homeless family for Christmas, who extend to them the celebration of Kwanzaa. As the Prouds learned about Kwanzaa, so too did many children watching the animated series who may not have had much previous knowledge of its traditions. which just goes to show how important children's television can be.
Feats of Strength. The Airing of Grievances. The Festivus Pole. The now-celebrated "Festivus For The Rest Of Us" got its origins in the Seinfeld episode "The Strike," and provides a hilariously cynical alternative to Christmas.
Refrigerator Day, Dinosaurs
A combination of Thanksgiving and Christmas, celebrated by the Sinclair family and other dinosaurs on the series Dinosaurs, Refrigerator Day is a celebration of the invention of the refrigerator. That's the only excuse they need to throw a massive yearly celebration, and if that's not a good reason than I do not know what is.
These TV episodes are all helpful reminders that there is more to winter than Santa hats and light-up reindeer. The season is important because no matter what you believe, all that matters is that you take some time to celebrate the close of one year, and welcome the start of another.