Christmas penguins

It’s the holiday season and penguins are all over the stores, on cards, wrapping paper, ornaments, everything. It seems to me that this “tradition” isn’t all that old but when and how did it start? I’ve tried every keyword combo I can think of on Google with no luck. Any ideas?

My guess would be The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper, a computer-animated short produced by DreamWorks Animation in 2005.

2005? There was a penguin in the 1970 Mickey Rooney "Here Comes Santa Claus " (which also had the hottest redhead Mrs Claus ever).

Penguins have been infesting Christmas scenes for as long as I can remember.



I can’t link reliably from my tablet, but you could probably google it. Caveat: it was a Rankin Bass stop-motion special (think Rudolph), so you may be disappointed.

Missed the edit window: Santa Claus is Coming to Town, BTW.

Titles conflate in a old man’s mind. I blame the eggnog.

Doesn’t Christmas penguins go back to the start of the Catholic Church?


I don’t get the reference. As far as I know, penguins were unknown to Europeans before the Portuguese explorations of southern Africa in the 1480s and 1490s.

The earliest reference to Christmas and penguins I could find is a rather gruesome one from the 1910 Antarctic expedition of Edward Wilson

Somebody named Robert Louis Tenorio apparently wrote and copyrighted a song called “Ronnie, the Christmas Penguin” about 1960. link to the copyright records on Google Books. It predates the 1970 TV movie by 10 years but can’t have had anything to do with the association of penguins with Christmas because it’s so obscure.

I believe the reference is that kids in Catholic schools often refer to the teaching nuns as ‘penguins’ because their habits are black and white. Only done behind their backs, of course.

True enough, since there is an obvious association between penguins and winter weather. I do perceive, however, that there has been an uptick in penguin-themed Christmas cards and displays in recent years.

I don’t know that there’s any one cause. March of the Penguins, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, the Penguins of Madagascar–all helped to make penguins hip, and turn what had been a minor holiday association into something more.

That’s not exactly true. Cite.

Bingo (no pun intended…well, maybe just a little)

They’re not a “tradition”, just a cute motif. Like owls with Santa hats on, since owls in general have been trendy the past few years. Black and white and red (all over) is a pleasing color combo.

Penguins at Christmas are not a tradition. A tradition is an exploding penguin (Youtube, w/skippable ad). I always put our plush penguin up on the TV during the holidays, until we got a flat screen and he wouldn’t stay perched, oh and until my wife thought it was silly :rolleyes:

Penguins live in the antarctic.
Santa lives in the arctic.
I wonder at the connection.

Also, Coca-Cola was advertising using Polar Bears, and 2005 they introduced the polar bears running into penguins.

Because - Winter.

Ironic that during Christmas it is early-summer where penguins really live. Cold, sure, but not wintry like some imagine. And they don’t have to contend with polar bears, either, except in the imagination.