• Member Since 27th Feb, 2013
  • offline last seen Last Thursday

Sprocket Doggingsworth

I write horse words.

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Help! My Heart is Full of Pony! - Hearth's Warming · 8:57pm Dec 22nd, 2016

Source: A Hearth's Warming Tail

One thing that has always impressed me about My Little Pony, is its mythology - not just the origin story of the princesses, (which I am completely obsessed with), but also its references, and its parallels to classic legends. The show has introduced millions of children to the concepts of manticores, and hydras, and phœnices; it has, in its own way, retold the story of Icarus in Sonic Rainboom; and it's crafted mythos of its very own.
Now personally, I have been having trouble getting into the spirit of the holiday season lately. The weather hasn't felt l like December; I have been getting sick on and off; and it's just been a stressful time all around. Last night, I decided to re-watch a Hearth's Warming Tail.

It helped. It helped a lot.

When I watched the episode, it really got me thinking about the holidays, about our own folklore, and about Hearth's Warming in general as a concept. December holidays, at their core, tend to be about light. The sun, naturally, is winding down to its shortest days; we all get our first taste of the harsh winter to come; and in the middle of all that, just as the longest nights of the year hit, the holidays come along and give us something to look forward to – a bit of warmth. Brightness.

What sets these holidays apart from other occasions throughout the year, is that there is an air of danger about them. They not only celebrate light, but a specific idea - a light that is perpetually under attack. From the various European celebrations of the death and rebirth of the Sun King, to Hanukkah's celebration of the miraculous eight days of lamp light that should never have been, to the Nativity story, and the uphill battle surrounding the circumstances of Jesus' birth - that danger is always there. Even modern pop secular mythology emphasizes Christmas as a holiday that needs to be saved from some external threat, (be it a Grinch, a monster, or a claymation skeleton who just wanted to try something new).

The thing that stuck out to me when I rewatched A Hearth's Warming Tail was how it captured the fact that Hearth's Warming, too, was fundamentally in danger. I have heard a few people criticize the episode for reusing the old Scrooge trope, (which has admittedly been done 1000 times). However, what caught my attention was not the parallels to the original story, but the differences. The past conveys a moment in time when Snowfall Frost hardened her heart to the holiday, just like the book; the present depicts an overly jubilant ghost, and a holiday party full of folks carrying on without her, just like in the book; but the future is really quite different. There is no hoof that points at Snowfall Frost's grave. The future's ghost points to a wasteland of ice and snow – a world completely and totally destroyed. It's a reality where that miraculous light - that brightness and warmth we look forward to in our December holidays – never triumphs over the darkness that attacks it. Furthermore, the messenger is Princess Luna – one who, as we all know, has a history soaked in the conflict between day and night.

To me, this was the moment that solidified the episode – that further legitimized Hearth's Warming, and made it feel like a real holiday with rich traditions behind it, (even if the trope itself has been done before). Whether consciously, or unconsciously, the show's creative staff tapped into something deep here - something powerful.

Yet, the message itself is still intimate, and simple. One of the things that My Little Pony does best is infuse little things – basic virtues – with magic power, and great cosmic significance. As Twilight suggests to Starlight, and as Pinkie Ghost flat out sings to Snowfall Frost, the real meaning of the holiday "is to be with your friends." Your family.

No matter what tradition you celebrate, or what culture – no matter if your feelings toward the season are religious or secular, there's something we all have in common - the fact that the warmth and strength that our friends and family give to us is what gets us through dark times.

Wow. They really, really, really should have aired this episode as a holiday special in December.


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