Will Vinton's A Claymation Christmas Celebration is a 1987 CBS Christmas television special that features, as the title suggests, stop-motion clay animation, in this case under the Will Vinton trademark Claymation. It won the 1988 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program, beating out the other two nominees, A Garfield Christmas Special (which premiered on the same night as this), and the limited theatrical animated adaptation of The Brave Little Toaster.
Two anthropomorphic dinosaur hosts, an intellectual Tyrannosaurus named Rex and a hungry Styracosaurus named Herb (both of whom originally appeared in a previous Vinton special, Dinosaurs! - A Fun-Filled Trip Back in Time!) introduce several segments featuring clay animation set to Christmas music.
Throughout the special, Rex attempts to clarify the true pronunciation and meaning of the term "wassail," his own definition being challenged by several other characters, including Herb. As the special progresses, Rex encounters many strange interpretations of the word; for instance, a troop of dogs is seen singing "Here We Come A-Waffling", offering delicious waffles to Herb, who is enchanted on account of his gluttony.
As Herb happily accepts several distortions of the song, Rex finds himself dismayed, thoroughly convinced that the word is "wassail". However, at the end of the special, a large group of townsfolk arrives on the scene, singing a version that agrees with Rex's theories. He is overjoyed; in celebration, the entire cast dances and sings to "Here We Come A-Wassailing", giving the special a festive ending as it closes with "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".
The special features the following songs:
- "We Three Kings", sung by the Three Wise Men and their beboping camels
- "Carol of the Bells", performed by anthropomorphic church bells and directed by Maestro Quasimodo
- "O Christmas Tree" and various scenes taking place inside of Christmas ornaments
- "Angels We Have Heard on High" and ice dancing walruses
- "Joy to the World" and various Christmas scenes
- "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", sung by the California Raisins (a pastiche of The Temptations' version of the song)
- "Here We Come A-Wassailing", sung by the entire cast
A year after the special's premiere, Atlantic Records released the soundtrack on LP, cassette, and CD. It contained six songs not featured on the special, including an alternate version of "Angels We Have Heard On High", but oddly excluded "O Christmas Tree". The track listing was as follows:
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
- Good King Swing
- We Three Kings Bop
- God Rest Ye
- Carol of the Bells
- Silent Night, Jazzy Night
- Up on the Housetop
- Waffle, Waddle, Wallow, Wassail
- Angels We Have Heard On High
The special was made available on VHS by Family Home Entertainment on September 21, 1994.
The special was later featured on the Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas Plus Halloween & Easter Celebrations DVD, released by Hen's Tooth Video on September 16, 2003. As suggested by the title, the DVD also included two other Vinton holiday specials, A Claymation Easter and Claymation Comedy of Horrors.