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Classic Claymation Christmas Specials

Among my favorite holiday traditions is watching claymation Christmas movies on TV. It seems, growing up, that these holiday specials were on television every night of the holiday season, and I watched every one of them each year. In honor of one of my favorite yuletide traditions, I bring you the best classic claymation Christmas shows of all time.


Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

The special that put claymation Christmas specials on the map
 
 

America fell in love with claymation Christmas specials in 1964. Based on the 1939 song of the same name, 'Rudolph' has been telecast every year since 1964, making it the longest running Christmas TV special in history. It's narrated by country singer Burl Ives, the voice of Sam the Snowman. The style has been copied, parodied, poked fun at and adored for nearly 50 years, and will likely be remembered for generations to come.

 

Nestor The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey

Just like Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, only different
 
 

In 1977, the geniuses who brought us the timeless claymation classic 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer' tried to replicate the success - and the entire storyline - of the original. Honestly, if you had a little too much egg nog, you could easily mistake the two. But 'Nestor' is so darn cute, I had to include him on the list. It's narrated by Santa's donkey, Spieltote, voiced by country legend Roger Miller.

 

The Year Without a Santa Claus

Could also be named 'The Year Dave Had Nightmares About The Heat Miser'
 
 

This 1974 classic starred Mickey Rooney and Shirley Booth voicing Santa and Mrs. Claus, and tells the story of the year Santa wakes up with a cold and is told by his doctor that he should make some changes to his Christmas routine. Santa decides to take a holiday, and it is up to elves Jingle and Jangle to find people who still believe in Santa Claus. The elves run into trouble along the way, getting caught between Heat and Snow Miser who are fighting, when they get shot down and are lost. Scary stuff, right? Don't worry, there's a happy ending.

 

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas

Call it a Christmas/Halloween mash up. Only Tim Burton could pull this off
 
 

The 1993 story of Jack Skellington, from "Halloween Town" who opens a portal to "Christmas Town" and decides to celebrate the holiday. The story was originally going to be made into a 30-minute television special in the early 80's, but was dropped before it saw the light of day. Burton (who worked for Disney at the time) picked up the idea, and a decade later, came up with this feature film that is absolutely brilliant.

 

Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town

One of the first Christmas songs burned into my memory comes from this special
 
 

Narrator Mickey Rooney plays Santa Claus in this 1970 claymation gem, which also stars Fred Astaire as the mailman whose truck breaks down. 'Santa Claus is Comin' to Town' takes its name from the famous Christmas song, but I will never, ever, ever forget the song 'One Foot in Front of the Other', which I sometimes catch myself singing for no reason whatsoever. So, before you watch the video below, you've been warned that you'll probably be singing the song for weeks - or the next 30 years. Enjoy.

 

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