The Best (And Worst) of the Charlie Brown Holiday Specials

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, ABC

For many Americans, the Charlie Brown holiday specials are a time honored family tradition like eating until you throw up or drinking until you throw up. And while all of them are classics, some are clearly better than others.

7. Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!

Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! is ranked so low because of its pessimistic message about the nature of the world. Charlie Brown spends all of his winter break reading War and Peace, falls asleep before the New Year party, and wakes up to find out that Linus danced with the Little Red-Haired Girl.

When Charlie Brown returns to school, he receives a D minus on his book report and his next assignment: Crime and PunishmentEven though it’s a new year, life doesn’t magically get any better or any easier.

6. It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown

Okay, what kind of lobbyist are backing Arbor Day that it was able to snag a Charlie Brown special? While it’s not the most well known holiday, It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown is seen by some fans as the end of the “golden era” of Charlie Brown specials. Just hours after completing the score for the episode, the original Peanuts composer, Vince Guaraldi, passed away. It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown even includes the dedication “For Vince”.

It also marks one of the few times that Charlie Brown’s baseball team actually won a game. Well technically. The game was cut short by rain, but as Charlie Brown points out “We were winning!”

5. It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown

We love Snoopy as the Easter Beagle, but the whole Linus believes in a greater power and Sally is the only one who believes him plot line is a clear rip-off of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

4. Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown

In Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown expects to receive a whole briefcase full of valentines, only to receive a single pity valentine card. But we love this special not for what happened during the episode, but for what happened afterwards. After the special aired, kids from all across the country sent valentines to Charlie Brown out of sympathy.

3. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

The tenth Peanuts holiday special won an Emmy for “Outstanding Individual Achievement in Children’s Programming” and has all the makings of a classic holiday special (Lucy tricks Charlie Brown with a football, Linus makes a grand speech about the true meaning of the Thanksgiving, etc.), but it’s number three on our list because of one simple scene.

At the end of the special, Snoopy and Woodstock enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings including turkey. That’s right, Woodstock eats turkey which is disturbingly cannibalistic.

2. A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas will always have a special place in our hearts as the very first Charlie Brown special. The episode explores the true meaning of Christmas and the commercialization of the holiday, a message that still rings true today, 50 years later.

However, executives at the time thought the special would fail historically claiming, “We’ll play it once and that will be all.” We all know how that turned out. A Charlie Brown Christmas won both an Emmy and Peabody and has aired every Christmas since 1965.

1. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Unlike the other classic Peanut specials, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown transcends the holiday. While other Halloween traditions focus on the horror or the humor of the holiday, the Peanuts take on Halloween is about the power of faith and a belief in something bigger than yourself.

And this message was validated by fans of the Peanuts. Days after It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown first aired, kids were so moved by Charlie Browns’s oft-repeated “I got a rock” line, that they sent in in bags and boxes of candy from all around the world “just for Charlie Brown.” Linus spends all night waiting for The Great Pumpkin, but fans of the Peanuts are the real Great Pumpkins.