This article is about the 1974 Rankin/Bass special. For the 2006 live-action TV-movie, see The Year Without a Santa Claus (2006 film).

The Year Without a Santa Claus is a 1974 stop-motion animated television special, produced by Rankin/Bass. The story is loosely based on Phyllis McGinley's 1956 book of the same title, illustrated by Kurt Werth.


SPOILER: Plot details or story follow.

The Year Without a Santa Claus is a story told by Mrs. Claus, of the year that there almost wasn't a Christmas. Santa Claus has fallen ill and hurt and doesn't quite feel like making his annual Christmas Eve trek. Under the recommendation of his doctor, Santa decides to issue a press release to announce that Christmas was cancelled so that he may take a holiday.


Heat Miser and Snow Miser

Humoring her husband for the time being, Mrs. Claus assigns two elves named Jingle Bells and Jangle Bells with a task. She orders them to leave the North Pole in the weeks leading up to Christmas, to find a town where they could rally up some Christmas cheer to convince Santa to still perform his annual journey. Riding the baby reindeer Vixen, the dim-witted elves set off to the south, when they are immediately attacked by Heat Miser and his minions as his stepbrother Snow Miser looks on, but they fortunately manage to escape.

The elves soon arrive in a city called Southtown, somewhere in the United States of America, but their troubles are far from over, as they receive a court summons from a local cop for committing numerous violations. After they encounter a grouchy woman on the street and fail to produce the results they seek, Jingle and Jangle approach a group of nonchalant schoolchildren, including a boy named Ignatius Thistlewhite. Disheartened that no one seems to care that Christmas is cancelled, the elves fail to notice that Vixen, whom they have disguised as a dog, has been captured by the dog catcher.


Back at the North Pole, Santa learns of his wife's plot to resurrect Christmas and sets off, accompanied by his flying reindeer Dasher, to assist the helpless elves in a dangerous world they know nothing of. He meets Ignatius and asks him if he's seen the two elves just as the boy's mother invites the disguised jolly man into her home. As Santa drinks some of Mrs. Thistlewhite's tea to help with his cold, the family discusses the existence of Santa Claus, never the wiser for having been in his company. Mr. Thistlewhite sings a song about when he was a boy and learned that Santa was in fact real.

His spirits lifted, Santa is told by Iggy that the two elves went to go get their dog out of the pound, so he heads off to bail Vixen out himself, and not a moment too soon, as the little doe has fallen ill in the warm weather. Iggy, witnessing Santa leaving with Dasher, decides that there has got to be something he can do to help. So he tracks down Jingle and Jangle (who were unable to pay Vixen's bail at the pound themselves) and brings them to the Mayor's office where they plead their case. Unfortunately, the Mayor will only believe their story if the elves can use their magic to make it snow in Southtown.

Trying to figure out how to get snow to fall in Southtown, the elves place a call in to Mrs. Claus for help. Figuring that the mayor's request could help boost the spirits of the town and her husband as well, the woman arrives in a sleigh, pulled by the reindeer Blitzen, and takes Jingle, Jangle and Iggy with her to see Snow Miser. After a rousing dance number with his minions, the wizard agrees to make it snow in Southtown only if his stepbrother, who controls the weather in that part of the world, will allow it.

The group heads south again to visit the lair of Heat Miser and his minions to present the situation to the demonic giant. Appalled at the very idea of letting his stepbrother allow snow to fall in his territory, Heat Miser refuses, saying he will only agree to the deal if Snow Miser gives him control over the North Pole's weather in exchange. Unwilling to give in on either side after a video phone conference, Mrs. Claus goes over their heads and straight to the source - Mother Nature. The kindly woman, and mother to the elements, serves tea as she coerces her sons to cooperate for the greater good, if they don't want to face her wrath if they refuse.


The children of the world line up to give presents to Santa.


Santa and his reindeer.

As it begins to snow in Southtown, Santa finds out that some people still believe in him and in the spirit of Christmas after all, especially when the world's children decide they will make presents for him since he plans on taking a holiday; the children's decision sets off headlines around the world. One little girl is especially sad to miss Santa on Christmas Eve, and she writes that she'll have a "Blue Christmas." Touched by all the evidence he has seen of caring and generosity, Santa decides to pack the sleigh and make his Christmas Eve journey after all, including a public stop in Southtown, where the mayor dedicates Santa Claus Lane just in time for Santa to parade down the streets of town.

Spoilers end here.


Broadcast history

The show has been broadcast on over-the-air TV in the USA on ABC and later CBS. Currently, the distribution rights for this special, as with much of the post-1973 Rankin Bass programs, are held by Time Warner's Warner Brothers Domestic TV Distribution. The special was aired on Freeform as part of the annual 25 Days of Christmas programming block through 2017, and will be moving to AMC for their own Best Christmas Ever block in 2018.


CBS's later broadcasts of the special cut out part of "I Could Be Santa Claus" and "It's Gonna Snow Right Here in Dixie", as well as the scene with Jingle and Jangle meeting the unnamed Southtown citizen.

When shown on Freeform, the following edits were made:

  • The scene with Santa telling the elves to put away the toys they're making is shortened.
  • Mrs. Claus denying that she is "up to something" when Santa asks her about it is cut.
  • Heat Miser ordering his minions to attack Vixen, Jingle, and Jangle is shortened.
  • Jingle and Jangle's encounter with the unnamed citizen, Santa talking with the Southtown cop, and Jingle, Jangle, and Vixen hiding up in the tree are cut entirely. As a result, the scene of Jingle and Jangle visiting the schoolyard now comes immediately after they disguise Vixen as a dog.
  • The shot of Jingle, Jangle, and Iggy leaving the Mayor's office is cut.
  • The shots of the dog catcher seeing Santa flying off into the sky are cut.
  • The first few seconds of Jingle, Jangle, and Iggy waiting for Mrs. Claus on the roof of the Thistlewhites' house are skipped.
  • Mrs. Claus telling Snow Miser about Santa having caught a cold (immediately following Snow Miser's song) is cut.
  • Heat Miser complaining that he thinks Santa is being unfair to him is shortened.
  • Jingle and Jangle expressing dread about going to see Mother Nature is shortened.
  • The shot of Santa, Dasher, and Vixen arriving back at the North Pole is cut.
  • Santa's response to the news about the people of the world allowing him to take a vacation is shortened.
  • The commercial break right after "Here Comes Santa Claus" is moved to right before that sequence, and as a result, the shot of Santa and his reindeer taking off into the sky is cut.


The Year Without a Santa Claus was first released on VHS by Vestron Video in 1991. After Vestron Video was shut down in 1992 and the distribution rights for the post-1974 Rankin/Bass specials were acquired by Time Warner, all subsequent home video releases were distributed by Warner Home Video. Warner released it on Blu-ray on October 5, 2010, making it the first Rankin/Bass production to be released on that format.


  • The painting of Santa in his sleigh from the end of Santa Claus is Comin' to Town can be seen on Santa's wall.
  • Snow Miser's mouth doesn't move when he says "cooperate!?" during the phone call scene with Heat Miser.
  • This special shows Vixen, who is portrayed as female, with antlers, which real life female reindeer have, unlike most animated Christmas productions that feature reindeer, where only the male reindeer have antlers.


Main article: A Miser Brothers' Christmas

A sequel produced by Warner Brothers and Toronto-based Cuppa Coffee Animation, A Miser Brothers' Christmas, premiered on December 13, 2008 on ABC Family. Rooney and Irving reprised their original roles as Santa Claus and Heat Miser, while Catherine Disher portrayed Mrs. Claus and Juan Chioron played the voice of Snow Miser.


Voice actor Character
Shirley Booth Mrs. Claus
Mickey Rooney Santa Claus
Dick Shawn Snow Miser
George S. Irving Heat Miser
Bob McFadden Jingle Bells
Bradley Bolke Jangle Bells
Colin Duffy Ignatius Thistlewhite
Ron Marshall Mr. Thistlewhite
Rhoda Mann Mother Nature
Christine Winter Blue Christmas girl
unknown Mrs. Thistlewhite
unknown Vixen
The Mayor of Southtown
North Pole Doctor
Southtown cop
Southtown dog catcher
unknown Snow Miser's minions
unknown Heat Miser's minions
unknown Unnamed Southtown citizen


External links

Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerCricket on the HearthThe Little Drummer BoyFrosty the SnowmanSanta Claus is Comin' to Town • "A Christmas Tree" • 'Twas the Night Before ChristmasThe Year Without a Santa ClausThe First Christmas: The Story of the First Christmas SnowFrosty's Winter WonderlandRudolph's Shiny New YearThe Little Drummer Boy, Book IINestor, the Long-Eared Christmas DonkeyThe Stingiest Man in TownRudolph and Frosty's Christmas in JulyJack FrostPinocchio's ChristmasThe Leprechauns' Christmas GoldThe Life and Adventures of Santa ClausSanta, Baby!