The St. Patrick’s Day Thread Celebrates…Christmas?

Let’s face it: primetime television specials for St. Patrick’s Day are hard to come by. So hard to come by, in fact, that when you Google “Animated St. Patrick’s Day specials” on your computer, what you get is a list of TV episodes with a holiday theme, but not actual specials. So we sort of have to cheat a little if we want our Saint Paddy’s Day with a side of Rankin/Bass, by taking the closest thing they ever made to a St. Patrick’s Day tale…in the form of a Christmas special.

The Leprechauns’ Christmas Gold is quite possibly one of the most obscure specials the studio ever made, although it does still air every year on AMC. It also hardly has anything to do with Christmas despite taking place around the holiday. In fact, of the several songs included here, only one of them is a Yuletide jingle. Mostly, this feels like a St. Patrick’s Day special (I wonder if that’s what Rankin/Bass originally wanted to make, only to find there was no interest from the networks, so they just slapped “Christmas” on the title and ran with it), and since I have no real rules for this sort of thing, I’m going to proclaim it okay for an OT on this festive day. After all, I did a thread all about fucking Candy Claus just a few weeks ago. Clearly I have no standards.

“Buckle in, kids, before I get so drunk I start telling ya all the story of The Star Wars Holiday Special.”

Our narrator for this story is Art Carney, who voices a grouchy but caring leprechaun who has been all alone for the past century following a spat with his wife. Leprechauns, you see, hold grudges for an incredibly long time, especially when it comes to marital problems. Carney’s loneliness momentarily comes to an end when an extremely naïve (actually, that’s being generous; I’ll just call him stupid) cabin boy arrives on his island following a storm, so he takes the opportunity to tell him his life story, even though I think he technically has to give the lad gold instead according to leprechaun rainbow rules or some shit.

Anyway, the source of all of trouble in this special is Mag the Hag, an ancient banshee with the power to change her appearance who must get gold before Christmas every year or else she will turn to tears. Not to side with the villain here or anything, but that doesn’t seem entirely fair. I mean, who the fuck makes these rules? What higher being created such harsh standards for banshees? Imagine knowing you needed gold by a certain date or else you would die in a manner that was probably quite painful. But I’m getting distracted. What matters is that Mag needs gold, the leprechauns have gold, and she is willing to terrorize them by any means necessary in order to get it (even though, I don’t know, it seems cutting a deal with them would be a better option. You know, she gets some gold coins each year in exchange for not being an ass to all of them? No?).

“Give me all yer gold or else I will die and stop being a problem for you all! Wait, let me rephrase that…”

From there, things get hard to explain. Literally half of the special is a flashback explaining how Mag tricked Mrs. Leprechaun into thinking they had to give all of their gold away, how the aftermath of that lead to an earthquake which split the land apart, and how Lord Patrick–the “Lord of the Leprechauns”–lied to Mag in order to trap her under a pine tree (again, I will stress that a deal between the leprechauns and Mag would probably be a simpler solution for all parties involved).

”I warned ya kids that I was gonna get good and plastered. Now let me tell ya about the one time I gave Grandpa Itchy a fuck machine fer Christmas…”

The Leprechauns’ Christmas Gold aired in 1981, and was one of the last stop-motion animated specials from Rankin/Bass. Is it odd? Sure. Do I like it? You bet I do. Carney is great here, his voice full of warmth, regret, and bitter humor. The production values are some of the most sophisticated the studio ever did, and the songs are jolly and bouncy.

Have a happy St. Patrick’s Day, Avocados! And remember, if you see anyone shedding tears, RUN AWAY FROM THEM, FOR THEY ARE A BANSHEE!!!