With the holidays upon us, it’s a great time to explore the ways writers portray Christmas🎄and winter holidays ❄️ in fantasy.
In the forefront, there’s fantasy inherent in Christmas tradition. Like Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer, a story with flying reindeer. Santa’s elves building toys in his workshop at the North Pole. Santa himself. A heavy-set, jolly, demigod with a penchant for giving gifts to all the good boys and girls of the world one night a year, and Frosty the Snowman, a snowman who magically comes to life and befriends a young boy.
Storytellers also create equivalent holidays in fantasy stories, like my Anchoress series where the Lodians celebrate Yule. Christmas celebrated in similar ways as our own is also fun to read, like in Narnia.
Naturally, I have to mention the Harry Potter books. The Great Hall at Hogwarts is done up with a beautiful Christmas tree and many decorations. Each book has at least one scene taking place in a Christmas setting. To name a couple, Harry gets the invisibility cloak in book 1 and the Firebolt in book 3. But my favorite is the Yule Ball in book 4. Of course, there is Harry’s present of a Weasley sweater every year.
Then there are stories with odd twists on real-world traditions. One that comes to mind is Sam Hooker's The Winter Riddle. A holiday fantasy that intertwines yuletide and Ragnarok. An Amazon reviewer called the book a “fun romp through the winter landscape of the North Pole, complete with magic, a mad queen, a good witch, elves, and Santa as an armor-wearing, spear-welding warrior with legendary battle skills.”
There are humorous fantasy Christmas stories. Like, A Song of Three Spirits A humorous satire of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol updated to include classic fantasy and modern corporate greed.
And, we must talk about horror. Foremost on my mind is the Krampus. According to Wikipedia, the Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure in Central and Eastern Alpine folklore who, during the Christmas season, scares children who have misbehaved. Assisting Saint Nicholas, or Santa Claus, the pair visit children on the night of December 5th, with Saint Nicholas rewarding the well-behaved children with modest gifts such as oranges, dried fruit, walnuts, and chocolate, while the badly behaved ones only receive punishment from Krampus with birch rods.
The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulated it as having pre-Christian origins. In traditional parades and in such events as the Krampuslauf, young men take part dressed as Krampus and attempt to scare the audience with their antics. Such events occur annually in most Alpine towns.
Does anyone remember the episode “A Very Supernatural Christmas” on the TV show Supernatural (on the CW) when Sam and Dean had to face the Krampus? It was epic!
By the way, what team are you on? #teamSam or #teamDean? Send me an email at YourFantasyPortal@gmail.com and let me know or go to the YFP Facebook page and tell the world! That’s where I’ll reveal my team!
How many versions of a fantasy Christmas can you come up with?
Be sure to check out the Christmas in Fantasy video on YouTube!