• Top 5 Hearth's Warming Eve Specials

    'Tis the season for us to not feel guilty anymore about celebrating Christmas early! But of course in the land of Equestria this time of year is spent celebrating Hearth's Warming Eve. Which totally isn't Christmas. At all. During MLP's time on the air that just recently came to a close, they accumulated quite a bit of Hearth's Warming Eve specials. Portraying many different ways of celebrating their holiday season in new and familiar ways throughout 5 episodes. Perfect!

    I'm DigiKate and for my first outing here on EQD, I'll be counting down my Top 5 Hearth's Warming Eve specials from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic!

    #5 Hearthsbreakers

    I want to emphasize right off the bat that while this episode may be at the bottom at the list, it's not bad. None of them are in fact. The only reason it's this low is that it's the one I've revisited the least and, well something had to be in this spot.

    Looking back on it, something that's great about the Hearth's Warming Eve episodes is how they cover different topics from the ponies holiday traditions and ours. This time we get to see how modern ponies celebrate the holiday. Something we didn't see much of in the first Hearth's Warming Eve episode. Getting a look at how the story of Hearth's Warming Eve that we were previously taught is translated into traditions. All of which are creative since while a few are similar, they don't rely on real world Christmas traditions only.

    I appreciate that Equestria doesn't need a Santa equivalent for example. While similar to Christmas, this is a separate holiday in a world different from ours that has it's own traditions.Though I never understood why there were trees included in the decorations for Hearth's Warming Eve sometimes. Maybe it's to represent the growth of Equestria after the tribes united? I don't know.

    That would have been enough to make this episode memorable, but then we get what's, for many, a very relatable holiday conflict. Spending the holidays with a different family. Of course it's a delight to meet the rest of the Pie family properly (in fact I'm kind of surprised that we barely saw them again after this) and seeing them both get along with and conflict with the Apple Family.

    It's a nice look at how we can get wrapped up in the traditions that we grew up with, that it's tough for us to accept any other way of celebrating the holidays. And the episode's overall message of trying to learn about another family's traditions, teaching them about yours, until you eventually create all new ones is a very important one that I'm sure a lot of people could take something away from. Whether your spending your first holiday with new families through friends, significant others, or some other circumstances.

    There's no wrong way to celebrate the holidays, and the episode shows that as long as you're willing to understand why other families have different traditions, you can appreciate the festivities in a whole new way.

    #4 Best Gift Ever

    I'm still shocked it took us this long to get an hour long episode of Friendship is Magic. But watching each of the Mane Six (and Spike) trying to pick out the perfect gift for their Secret Santa- I mean Hearth's Warming Helper, is a great use of 45 minutes. Seriously, the pacing in this episode is excellent! With about half a dozen subplots to keep cutting back to, this episode could have been a chaotic mess. But instead there's never a dull moment and always something new and entertaining going on on screen.

    And not just with the mane cast. One thing I love about this episode is just how much activity and detail is in every single setting. The locations all feel like it's the middle of the holidays and seeing so many ponies gather for the festivities is so charming with a lot of great background cameos. (you guys all saw Minty right?)

    There are so many great little moments throughout all of the subplots. From Twilight's typical freak out from holiday prepping stress, to another run in with Flim and Flam, to Rainbow Dash and Discord searching for a gift for Fluttershy (this may be my personal favorite, these two needed a whole episode together), to Pinkie running into some of that good old fashioned world building that we all love.

    I don't know about you guys, but I lost my mind at the discovery of Equestrian reindeer!

    What puts it lower in the ranking is that some of the characterization, especially with Fluttershy and Spike, feels like it's about 4 or 5 seasons too late. Which can be distracting, but isn't a deal breaker. Especially when the episode has such a great way of presenting it's message from as many angles as possible.

    Like a lot of episodes of Friendship is Magic, most of us older viewers could see the message coming from a mile away, but what makes it entertaining and even a bit deeper, is the journey. And how this episode tackles different approaches to finding the perfect gift in different ways, while coming to the same conclusion. From spreading joy to others you may not even know that well, to putting that unique thought into a gift without having to go broke, to going to really elaborate lengths to make someone you care about happy, to making sure you don't get to swept up in the stress that you forget to enjoy the holiday.

    As corny as it sounds, it is the thought that counts. And while it's not perfect, I really admire how this episode tackles that in so many ways with such fun and sincerity. The songs are pretty great too so it has that going for it as well. Oh also....


    #3 Hearth's Warming Eve

    What better time then the halfway point to go back to the episode that started it all? This is still a favorite from Season 2 because it delivers a lot of something bronies crave. Lore! World Building! History to Equestria going all the way back to the beginning!

    I really appreciate that about this episode. They could have just put Christmas decorations on Ponyville and called it a holiday special, and nobody would have minded. But instead they created a holiday unique to this world, and showed it's significance to the ponies. Telling the story of the founding of Equestria through a play. A pretty clever way to tell the story while still using the Mane Six by the way.

    While we may be seeing and hearing these characters as the ponies we know and love, it's really fascinating to see the original leaders of the Earth Ponies, Unicorns and Pegasi. I find the rivalry between the 3 leaders really entertaining, and how their partners on their journey keep trying to make them see reason. Having level headed companions for these 3 outrageous leaders helps ground the episode and stop it from being annoying.

    And something about the voice acting this time around is really, really fun for me. Especially Chancellor Puddinghead's line about the Earth being round. It's so weird but it always manages to get a laugh out of me.

    Okay so we've got the history of the founding of Equestria, how the ponies used to live and how they exchanged their unique abilities amongst each other, and the introduction of the kind of spooky Windigos. This episode definitely has a lot to offer in a fun and interesting way, and the resolution that brought all the ponies together could be the root of the journey Twilight and the others take throughout the series. How intolerance and selfishness creates walls rather then bridges. And how friendship and acceptance can lead to new opportunities that can benefit everyone. Like some of the best MLP episodes, it presents it's message in an excellent way that, while obvious to some, is still important.

    The original Hearth's Warming Eve is still a special episode after all these years and over 150 episodes. Without it we wouldn't have so much potential for expanding on the history of Equestria, and the rest of these specials wouldn't exist as they do now. If at all. Including....

    #2 The Hearth's Warming Club

    This is an episode we desperately needed in Season 8! The Student Six were accepted by fans pretty quickly after the season premiere, but to say their involvement in the first half of the season was minimal is generous. The show had dropped six new unique and appealing characters right into our laps begging for development, but none of them had any focused episodes.

    Here we use the holiday season as an excuse to get to know all of them better! This premise combines a lot of things about the previous specials that we've already discussed, but from new perspectives. If there one thing bronies love more then learning more about pony history and customs, it's learning more about the history and customs of other creatures!

    Using this Breakfast Club style scenario to give us a look at how all of the Students celebrate the holiday differently. From the Changelings trying to follow instructions on how to celebrate Hearth's Warming Eve after reforming and failing adorably, to how the Hypogriffs traditions changed as how they lived did, to the somewhat brutal yet not at all surprising traditions of the Dragons, to the funny and surprisingly sincere ceremony of the Yaks.

    It not only gives us a good look at an aspect of the cultures these creatures come from, and how holiday traditions can be very different and still special, but it gives us a better look at these six as characters. How they feel about the holidays and the possibility of not getting to celebrate them how they usually do.

    What really makes this episode stand out as something special though, is Gallus. Who doesn't have a family to come home to or traditions to look forward to. Griffons are as miserable during the holidays as they are any other time of the year. It's always important to remember that the holidays aren't a happy time for everyone. That there are those out there who aren't as lucky as you might be. Who might not have a warm happy home to go to.

    Once again I really like how this episode looks at different ways of spending the holidays, even the less pleasant way that some people go through. But the ending is really sweet for all involved. Showing that, it doesn't always have to be that way. That traditions can evolve and things can change. That a bad situation can be turned into a better one with friends around. And I'm so glad that we got to learn this lesson with the Student Six. Giving them the time and attention they deserved.

    #1 A Hearth's Warming Tail

    What can I say? I like my Christmas Carol adaptations. I remember when this aired being really annoyed that they were doing a Hearth's Warming episode in May. But after finishing it it became not only my favorite episode of Season 6, but my favorite Hearth's Warming Eve special!

    This is always something I have fun seeing an established series do. If a show runs long enough chances are they'll get to doing their own version of a Christmas Carol eventually. And what's so fun when that happens is seeing who will play the Ghosts of Christmas. Or in this case the Spirits of Hearths Warming.

    The choices are all great ones from the obvious but still perfect Pinkie as the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Present, to the unexpected yet just as fitting Luna as the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come, to the very surprising choice of Applejack as the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past. This was the most confusing to me at first, but thinking about how supportive and level headed Applejack is towards others, not to mention being very nostalgic by nature, I realized how much it fit. It's just one example of the episode's creativity.

    The other is of course having another detailed and active background going on during the story. The highlight being getting to see a bunch of ponies we know and love as old timey versions of themselves during a tale that's supposed to have taken place several moons ago. It really makes the style stand out from the other Hearth's Warming specials.

    But my personal favorite cameo had to be the Sherlock and Watson ponies in proper Victorian attire. That is so amazing, on so many levels!

    Oh and let's not forget that this is a musical! MLP's musical library is always lively and diverse and marvelously performed and if you ask me, we don't have enough musical versions of A Christmas Carol. These songs are so good that they re-released A Pony Kind of Christmas, just to include them! They are all phenomenal, but my personal favorite is probably Luna's Future. Being Luna's first solo song and the debut of her new and permanent singing voice, performed by Aloma Steele.

    This was actually the last musical episode in the series, which at the time were becoming a seasonal tradition. So this was kind of the end of an era.

    But this isn't just a paint by numbers retelling of A Christmas Carol with a pony coat of paint. They alter the tale quite a bit to fit the holiday of Hearth's Warming Eve. Especially when it comes to the role Starlight plays, Snowfall Frost.

    Unlike Scrooge, who just wanted to be left alone and thought only of himself, Snowfall actually has a noble goal of making Equestria a better place, but doesn't understand the small ways that something like Hearth's Warming Eve contributes to that goal. Instead she considers it a distraction from the bigger picture. Seeing her gravestone wasn't going to help Snowfall see the error of her ways, because it was never about just her. She had to see that her actions hurt all of Equestria. By taking away the joy and friendship of Hearth's Warming Eve, and unleashing the Windigos. It's a marvelous way to morph the classic Dickens' tale with it's universal and timeless message to fit a completely different holiday.

    The episode is creative, entertaining, and emotionally satisfying on every level. It's one that leaves me with a big smile on my face every time I finish it. And that's what I think we all look for in our holiday specials.

    Wow that Number 1 was like, twice as long as the other entries. Well that's why it's Number 1 right? But what do you guys think? Which Hearth's Warming Eve special do you think is the best, and more importantly, why? I'm sure every one up there is someone's favorite because like I said, they all find different ways of tackling the holidays. Even if it's not quite Christmas, they all have something that we can relate to about his time of year.

    So however you choose to celebrate, remember to take some time to kick back and relax, and take comfort in the fact that even though Friendship is Magic is over, they left several gifts behind for us to enjoy every Hearth's Warming Eve.