Christmas Past

The fascinating stories behind your favorite Christmas traditions

Indisputable proof that the 80s were the best decade to be a kid at Christmas

image of eighties-style text that reads: Merry Christmas

Every decade adds its unique touch to Christmas culture and history. Whether it’s the explosion of modern classic Christmas music from the 1940s, the aluminum trees of the 1960s, or today’s ugly sweaters and Pinterest-inspired decorating. But for sheer volume of enduring pop culture and nostalgia, no decade comes close to the 80s.

Need proof? Well put on your parachute pants and moonwalk down memory lane, because Christmas Past is going totally 80s!

The toys were totally awesome


Rubik’s cube was introduced in 1980. More than 200 million were sold between 1980 and 1983, and it was a top-selling Christmas gift.


Every kid in 1981 wanted Santa to bring the new Pac-Man cartridge the the Atari 2600.


Though technically introduced in 1978, these soft-sculpture dolls became known as Cabbage Patch Kids in 1982.

The cheesy TV landscape was an embarrassment of riches

1985 brought us the He-Man / She-Ra Christmas Special. It was broadcast only once on TV, but it enjoyed a wide audience when it was released on VHS.


In 1987, Alf discovered the true meaning of Christmas while in the hospital. It’s Alf’s Special Christmas!


And who could forget 1988’s Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special, featuring Cher, Little Richard, Annette Funicello, and Frankie Avalon? (Oh, and the word of the day was: “year.”)

The hits just kept on coming


1987 brought us the first hit hip hop Christmas song with Run DMC’s Christmas in Hollis.  It reached number 78 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in 2000, 13 years after it was first released.


Supergroup Band Aid gave us “Do They Know It’s Christmas” in 1984. A fundraiser for the mid-80s famine in Ethiopia, the single became the biggest-selling single ever, and held that title until 1997.

And could any other decade have given us this moment?

image of Nancy Reagan sitting in Mr T's lap

No? Didn’t think so.

Even the commercials were pretty awesome

Thanks, other decades. You’re dismissed. For a little more 80s nostalgia, check out episode 13 of the podcast where Brian and his brother Chris talk about 80s toys. And in episode 5, we hear a totally 80s Christmas memory from Kenny in Canada.

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