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Top 10 – Christmas Trees in Pop Culture

By now you should all be raising your evergreens, be they plastic or living… well, not living anymore. Christmas draws ever nearer, and presents have to go somewhere, classically piled into novelty oversized footwear, or placed in a space on the carpet that may be suddenly prone to getting covered in pine needles. The Christmas Tree may very well be the single most iconic symbol of the season, unique to the time of year but embraced by so many, including us nerdy types.

Gather around young ones, as we tell you the tale of the 10 greatest Christmas Trees to ever grace pop culture.


Top 10

10) Merry Christmas! – Hamtaro

What could be better than starting off the list with a little bit of festive cuteness? Hamtaro for those of you who’ve not had the pleasure of seeing it, is an anime and manga around the adventures of a bunch of hamsters, who get into all sorts of hi-jinks with a variety of funny little personalities about them. As such, the idea of a Christmas special basically just wrote itself.

Naturally this Christmas special is simply about what these hamsters get up to; including decorating the tree. There’s very little else about the tree here, indeed it’s not much of a big story. However, Christmas has only really been picking up in Japan in recent years, so let’s not think too much about this one. It’s just a really cute, wholesome episode which’ll make you breathe a happy sigh.

9) Mordhaus Tree – Metalocalypse

Getting the lads from Dethklok to embrace some festive cheer should be a near impossible task, but it turns out unbridled anger and disdain can be embraced in all seasons, it’s just a matter of how you look at the world. Christmas is not brütal, being nice to each other, giving gifts, but time spent with your family that you hate, that’s brütal as [guitar screech], it’s all arguments and disappointment.

And dragging the corpse of a tree inside, that’s brütal, and if you throw up some decorations on there as massive [screech] you to a once majestic tree. Chuck some meat and blood on that, and that’s job done. It’s amazing what a little perspective can get you. Suddenly all the bright colours and twinkling lights don’t seem so bad, it may not be metal, but you can still have a brütal holiday season.

8) Pluto’s Christmas Tree

A 1952 movie, Pluto’s Christmas Tree features the titular dog and his pal, Mickey Mouse. The whole premise of the film is about Pluto and Mickey going out, chopping down a Christmas tree and bringing it back to their home to decorate. Unfortunately, the tree they chopped down was the tree that the chipmunks Chip & Dale reside in. Having their home cut down really didn’t go down well with the two critters.

With their tree down and them having now infiltrated Mickey & Pluto’s home, the chipmunks cause havoc for Pluto. They throw decorations at him, breaking things and getting him in trouble with Mickey. When all is said and done and Mickey finds out, he makes Pluto understand that it’s the holiday season, because that apparently is enough to appease some angry Chipmunks. To insult Pluto further, at the end of the film, they slap a sticker on Pluto’s mouth, saying to not open until Xmas. Marvellous.

7) Christmas Breaker – Transformers UK

Licensing a franchise around the world is a strange affair, as sometimes it means you have to play up to traditions of different countries. Such was the case when The Transformers UK comic decided to make an issue called Christmas Breaker, where Optimus Prime dressed himself up as Santa Claus and they decided to put up a metal Christmas tree. No, it’s not quite as metal as the previously mentioned Metalocalypse clip.

Nevertheless, this issue is pretty hard to come by. Released originally on December 28th, 1985, this is exceedingly hard to find. I tried to even look in eBay, but you know, do you think I could find this? Nope. There are plenty of websites that document it, so if you’re interested in finding out more about how Transformers can incorporate Christmas, check out The Transformers UK – #41, Christmas Breaker.

6) Maokai Festive Skin – League of Legends

We almost forgot this guy, but we then had a change of heart. Maokai is one of the sweetest characters of League of Legends, a literal living tree. So when push came to shove, I found out about this skin through my fiance (Thanks Jake!) This was a perfect entry for the list and it’s the only example on this list of a living Christmas Tree. However, originally we had some reservations, until I made an astute comment…

See, we were hung up on the idea of this just being a skin for a character; which is true! However, when you really think about it, a Christmas Tree is basically a “skin” for a tree. No tree is immediately a Christmas tree afterall. So well done Riot, well played. You managed to create a character that can be any variation of dressed up tree – And that’s a great thing. Merry Christmas, Maokai, you adorable tree person.

5) Batman Returns

Batman Returns for the second week running (see what I did there?) It’s kind of impossible for us to have left this one off the list, as really it was such a prominent image from last week, that it had to get in. Indeed, the tree is one of the most iconic images of this film, along with the constant reminders that the story is set around Christmas Eve and Christmas Day itself. A perfect geek film for this Christmas season.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not just going to shove this into every Top 10 until we’re done with Christmas, but we had to bring it back. Look at how big and gorgeous that tree is. I don’t get to say that very often, so hey, there’s something. All in all, in the scene with Max Shreck where he addresses the audience, it’s such a lasting image, that it definitely deserved the fifth place spot.

4) A Charlie Brown Christmas

This is a pretty sweet Christmas special which ends with the children singing around a Christmas tree, in a bid to raise Charlie Brown’s spirits. For anyone who doesn’t know, Charlie Brown and Snoopy have been a staple of the American comic scene since the 1950s. With the titular character in such a slump, it’s quite a heartwarming episode that I’d implore you to seek out.

All in all, this episode was made to show that whilst Charlie Brown is a bit of a loser, he has a good cast behind him. Everyone pulls their weight in this episode, really helping to cement that feeling of solidarity between the cast. Even those who would usually bully him come to support him, which is honestly something I think the world needs a bit more of from time to time.

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!

3) How The Grinch Stole Christmas

 

Just about the most Christmassy tale of all, immortalised by Jim Carey and never bettered, this story of a hardhearted and mean-spirited old soul learning to embrace the spirit of the season and becoming a part of the community that he scorned and was scorned by in turn. After ruining Christmas for everyone by stealing it and trying to destroy it, he returns, apologises, and tries his best to give everyone the best Christmas they’ve ever had by bringing together – not just families – but all of Whoville.

And where do they gather? Why around the Christmas tree of course! If Charlie Brown taught us anything it’s that the tree is where you gather to celebrate after learning the true meaning of Christmas. In this case it’s a replacement after the first one got burned down by… someone.

2) Great Hall Christmas Tree – Harry Potter

Hogwarts really knows how to do Christmas right. The great hall is always decorated with a dozen trees from the forest, and magic allows for some interesting decorations. Typically lit with candles that will never set the place on fire, some years they drip with unmelting icicles, or perhaps golden owls that are either alive or putting on a great impression at life.

Christmas is always a pivotal moment in the Harry Potter stories, weighed down with poetic importance as-is, but Rowling knows how to use the time of year to great effect, so it behoves her to celebrate it properly in her books. The trees only once bear any particular significance, but the vivid descriptions help set an unmistakable stage for the dramas that unfold there. Recall the ball at the Triwizard Tournament, with the hall excessively bedecked to show off Hogwarts to the other institutions, the trees were a central point in those efforts.

1) The Polar Express

How could we not put this here?

The Polar Express is a 1985 book, with a 2004 animated film of the same name. If you want to introduce a kid or a family member to how special animation can be, this might be the one for you this holiday season. It talks a lot about how children feel about Christmas, including the diminishing feeling they get about Father Christmas over the years. Say what you will, but this is a very real moment for a lot of kids.

The Polar Express puts forward a scene where Santa quite clearly asks the child protagonist, Chris, what he’d like for Christmas. He does this whilst in front of a massive Christmas tree, just to add that extra feeling of the spirit of the season into the film. It’s heartwarming, it’s impressive and the animation holds well even to today’s standards of CGI. Well worth checking out this Christmas.


Honourable Mentions

Hung with foil, plastic, and glass, a variety of pretty colours and twinkly lights, and shoved in the corner to go dry and slowly wither, but enough about us! We hope you enjoyed the list, but we considered a few other trees worthy of mention, although they’re not quite right for our list, we couldn’t let them go…

Rockefeller Centre Tree – Home Alone 2

As I’m the cold hearted soul who saw this entry bumped from the list and into the honourables list, the least I can do is explain why. The Rockefeller tree is an enormous Christmas tree that forms a temporary landmark in New York, a Norway Spruce lit by the Mayor every year in a big public celebration after Thanksgiving. It is, sadly, a real thing, one that features in a lot of films, including Home Alone 2 and Elf, and you can see the statue of Prometheus in the Ghostbusters montage sequence.

Tim, my apologies, while it’s a solid pick, and definitely ticks the boxes for both being a Christmas tree, and having a solid footprint in pop culture, it’s part of New York, and New York has a way of find its way into films somehow.

Yggdrasil

Ok, go with us here.

Odin is famously a big piece in the Santa Clause jigsaw puzzle, a long bearded old man who flies through the sky bringing gifts down chimneys, the spirit of the Yuletide. Among his many names we find Yggr, Terrible One, and part of the name Yggdrasil, most aptly translated to Odin’s Gallows, where he sacrificed himself, suffering a spear wound. Yggdrasil you may know as the world tree, in whose branches lie the worlds of the universe, from Asgard on high, to Hel in the roots.

THEREFORE Yggdrasil is a Christmas tree, Santa’s very own tree, perhaps the earliest recorded Christmas tree! It’s an ash tree, so we’re missing a few pagan druidic evergreen elements, but for this incredibly nerdy and convoluted logic, we give an honourable nod to Yggdrasil.


Time to chuck this list out front for the bin man, or stuff it back in the loft to be forgotten about for another eleven months before the whole pageantry begins again, a celebration of life’s great cycle in the coldest of seasons. We still have another couple of seasonal lists to see you through it. Vote for next week below.

Was your star at the top of our list? Did we neglect your favourites or unjustly promote one? Is all of this evergreen ranking a lot of hogswatch? Do you pine for a normal list? Do these puns earn your wreath… ok that’s a little contrived. Better puns in the comments, Facebook or Twitter, and any other thoughts too.

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