It’s the Holiday Season, Charlie Brown! Ranking the Peanuts Holiday Specials


Screengrab from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” comics have been gracing the media world for decades. Since 1950 when the first strip was released in the newspaper, the world of Charlie Brown has been expanding. Well known for their handful of holiday specials, Charlie Brown and friends take on mundane adventures while learning life lessons along the way. 

Charlie Brown, our main character, always seems to find himself in the midst of some existential crisis. He’s always questioning something, wanting to know more about things he—for some reason—cannot understand. He’s always getting the short end of the stick, like getting a football taken from under him, accidentally getting invited to parties, and even getting rocks instead of candy

Creeping up for some major holidays, you’re bound to witness the Peanuts gang trudging around in their coats and hats, chatting about life and doing the simple tasks of eight year olds. Although intended to be heartfelt mini movies with no real heat, there are some specials that rank better than others.

5. It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown (1974) 

In all honesty, this one is a bit of a disappointment compared to the rest of the list. There’s no real story; they decorate eggs, talk about decorating eggs, the process of decorating eggs, getting eggs. When you think of a Peanuts holiday special, there’s always that one line that comes to mind that pulls it all together, gives it that memorable quality. This one is lacking that bit. 

There are, however, a few cute scenes. Peppermint Patty tells Marcy to boil the eggs, to which she cracks them into the boiling water, essentially making egg soup. Alternatively, another great moment happens towards the very end when the Easter Beagle finally makes his appearance, getting cheers from the whole gang. 

Other than that, if you’re looking for an Easter themed movie, there’s definitely better picks out there.

4. Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975)

There’s something so innocent about children’s Valentine’s specials. This one in particular has the traditional Charlie Brown moment of getting no valentines or sweet treats from anyone. He’s so in need of something, and of course, ends up with nothing. 

There’s also the cliche mix up of the biggest gift being for the wrong person, the handmade valentines, and the gift giving in class. In all honesty, it’s adorable to watch these kids do something as simple as pass out little valentines and talk about what they believe love is.

3. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973) 

This is truly a classic, down to the last crumb. In the beginning, when Charlie Brown is roped into hosting dinner for a few friends, he is completely distraught. He isn’t going to be home because he will be having dinner with his grandparents. Why do all these people suddenly want to have dinner with him and his family? More importantly, why are they inviting themselves over? Shouldn’t they have their own dinners to attend to? 

This is when the memorable, classic scenes start coming in. We have the ping pong table with the mismatched chairs, the meal of toast, popcorn, jelly beans, and pretzel sticks, as well as the ever-iconic scene in which Lucy tears the football away from Charlie Brown just as he’s about to kick it, which ends with him falling flat on his back in the dirt. 

Besides that, the Thanksgiving special also shares an important message: Thanksgiving isn’t about what you eat or the pilgrims sailing over, rather it is about being thankful for the people in your life and all they do for you, big or small.

2. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) 

This is one special in particular that reminds me that they’re genuine children. Gullible children at that, because who told Linus that there was a ‘Great Pumpkin’? Did he make it up? Was it his parents? A different adult? Who led this little boy to believe that a giant pumpkin was going to come and bring him a present? 

The Great Pumpkin also has a collection of memorable scenes, such as Snoopy’s iconic World War I fighter costume, or Charlie Brown’s ghost filled with holes instead of eyes. Or maybe, one of the best collections of scenes in the Peanuts world, when everyone is discussing what type of candy they got from each house, and every time without fail, Charlie Brown says, “I got a rock.” 

Really, it’s just a Halloween staple. Mixed in with all the horror movies and semi-spooky television shows, it gives a break from the haunted stuff and delivers a fun comedy about trick or treating.

1. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) 

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” is hands down one of the best specials throughout the Peanuts series. Being the first to air on television, it has a lot of recognition throughout the media. For one, it tells a good story. Charlie Brown, who is truly trying to understand the meaning of Christmas, gets thrown into directing the town’s Christmas play. He thinks, maybe, that this will help him understand what the meaning of Christmas is really about. Naturally, because things can never go right for the boy, he’s diminished and thrown around. No one listens to him, and everyone tries to do their own thing despite him being the director. 

They send him to get the tree, to which he brings back the iconic baby tree with barely any bristles (NOT the big shiny aluminum Christmas tree Lucy had asked for). He leaves with the tree, only after Linus gives his definition of Christmas, the religious aspect, which is the story of the birth of Jesus. 

It takes the gang the entirety of the film to realize the true meaning of Christmas, but eventually they come together to realize that the real truth is caring for one another, making each other feel loved. 

Schulz’s happy-go-lucky comics make enjoyable fun for the whole family, and with the witty writing and colorful images, it’s hard not to remember a character like Charlie Brown. With the holidays coming fast, you’re bound to catch a glimpse of that yellow shirt with the black stripe through the middle.