Christmas Cartoons

As the holiday season hits its peak, with Lifetime and Halmark channels chock-a-block full of Christmas movies (with the occasional sprinkle of Hanukkah[1] movies mixed in as well) starting in October, we turn our nostalgic attention to the staple of the holiday television schedule: the animated Christmas special. Back in the day (and I am that old), I would scour the TV guide each week from October through December looking for the annual presentations of my favorite Christmas cartoons. The holiday cartoon season would traditionally kick off with It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966), a Halloween-themed[2] program featuring Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts characters.

Somewhere in November, the Christmas programs would begin, then end all too suddenly, forcing me to wait another year to see them again. Now, with streaming services and home video collections we no longer have to wait to see our favorite programs, but there are still only so many hours per day, so it’s not always possible to see them all each season. Thankfully, the good folks at the Today show (1952—) have assembled a list of the 33 best Christmas cartoons so you can prioritize your television viewing time.

The Today list is not prioritized, so we don’t have to argue about which is the best of the 33 animated Christmas TV specials and feature films[3], we just have to sit down with some hot chocolate or eggnog, depending if you’re in the mood for a hot or cold beverage[4], and soak in the holiday cheer.

If you’d like to automate your Christmas supply chain or optimize your audience measurement and performance reporting, each of these programs is listed in the EIDR registry with a globally-unique, curated identifier.

[1] Alternatively, Chanukah, Hannukah, Chanuka, Chanukkah, Hanuka, Channukah, or Chanukka, depending on your preference. There does not appear to be a single, standardized method for Hebrew to Latin alphabet transliteration. As luck would have it, language translation (converting from one language to another while retaining the original meaning) and transliteration (phonetically spelling one language in character set more familiar to speakers of another language) is a common issue for EIDR and the process of de-duplication, since work titles can show up in a wide variety of languages and character sets. Transliteration to the Latin alphabet is so common that there’s actually a name for just that process: romanization.

[2] For those who have not yet succumbed to American cultural imperialism, Halloween is celebrated on October 31st, the night before All Saints Day (aka, All Saint’s Eve; aka, All Hallows’ Eve) and feature children in costumes panhandling door-to-door for candy.

[3] Naturally, that’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966), Chuck Jones’ interpretation of the Dr. Seuss story.

[4] There are those who would serve eggnog hot, along the lines of mulled wine, but that’s just wrong-minded.

The Best Christmas Animated Programs

Title Year EIDR ID
A Charlie Brown Christmas 1965 10.5240/25AB-C4B1-FFF5-ED73-1635-S
A Christmas Carol 2009 10.5240/1D50-01DF-87D9-2D8B-A2FC-T
Alien XMas 2020 10.5240/4197-F0FD-9A33-2537-AD83-N
An Elf’s Story: The Elf on the Shelf 2011 10.5240/96B6-2619-DAE1-58AD-F756-C
Angela’s Christmas 2017 10.5240/8E97-B235-6E77-B167-0C4C-L
Annabelle’s Wish 1997 10.5240/6D96-02C4-48B5-7E44-4772-F
Arthur Christmas 2011 10.5240/D9DF-CB11-D36C-576E-D919-P
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas 1997 10.5240/B139-26E5-3A3F-67C2-EC6F-G
How the Grinch Stole Christmas 1966 10.5240/C89F-0FF3-A4A5-6EC5-2988-B
Eight Crazy Nights 2002 10.5240/A963-986D-3D9A-AAFB-0D4B-A
Elliot: The Littlest Reindeer 2018 10.5240/65FD-282D-E23E-7303-4912-5
Frosty the Snowman 1969 10.5240/6A39-7364-71B2-F455-41CA-O
Frozen 2013 10.5240/AF5E-0C87-992C-D0D6-9F21-X
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer 2000 10.5240/91C0-D7CA-DACB-60E8-2402-Y
It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown 1992 10.5240/9624-AFC6-3784-1E2D-AFA1-D
Klaus 2019 10.5240/4837-928C-F13D-AEB0-2C13-A
Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You 2017 10.5240/3E70-3E7A-C34F-2486-274A-S
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas 1999 10.5240/B470-7994-B73E-EEE7-A532-S
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure 2017 10.5240/E731-4E7C-5BAB-1421-EB23-W
Olive, the Other Reindeer 1999 10.5240/BF01-6E1B-9E8B-1E66-1084-J
Prep & Landing 2009 10.5240/16F2-A795-BDAE-2466-E973-U
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964 10.5240/8221-9FEE-6B43-2A8D-D415-E
Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town 1970 10.5240/4D3D-686F-39D0-4401-8DB5-L
Santa’s Apprentice 2010 10.5240/3E39-E442-364D-47F8-BD77-I
The Bad Guys: A Very Bad Holiday 2023 10.5240/B1DD-D355-9155-1922-6F7F-J
The Flight Before Christmas 2008 10.5240/D5F4-74B2-C3DF-D1AC-A44A-I
The Grinch 2018 10.5240/F1CD-3253-73D2-DFC0-6019-C
The Nightmare Before Christmas 1993 10.5240/7F83-5D50-BC21-D072-CC4C-1
The Polar Express 2004 10.5240/0E8E-C250-E484-9794-A9F2-0
The Snowy Day 2016 10.5240/1255-6E8D-30BC-9EEA-67DA-V
The Star 2017 10.5240/11C6-9224-B6CB-58B0-6EF5-F
The Year Without a Santa Claus 1974 10.5240/7BA5-B4CD-3313-E89C-4B57-O
Trolls: Holiday in Harmony 2021 10.5240/07BC-DBDF-86AE-2EBA-EF54-M