If you're a little too young for champagne and midnight fireworks, the Peanuts gang, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Winnie the Pooh, and Curious George would love to spend New Year's Eve with you.
Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! (1986) and Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne (2021)
In the 1986 special, facing the prospect of reading War and Peace for a book report, Charlie must choose whether to accept Peppermint Patty’s invitation to a New Year’s Party.
Along the way, he holds an actual book, uses a rotary phone, and then goes to a vinyl-records store (where the Beach Boys are #1!) to seek a War and Peace comic, record, cassette tape, computer game … or filmstrips.
Gen X and Millennials will feel the nostalgia, anyone younger will just feel confused -- but everyone will be entertained in classic Peanuts style.
The animation is more sophisticated in the 2021 special (which takes its name from a traditional New Year's Eve song, with lyrics attributed to Scotsman Robert Burns)
Worried that she's unlovable, bossy Lucy predictably just about ruins her New Year's Eve party with her drive for perfectionism.
Lucy is the focus here and it's nice to see her doing something other than calling Charlie Brown a "blockhead." For Auld Lang Syne shows that she's a complicated character who gets upset when she believes she's not lovable.
Since this is a new special, I don't want to go into too much more detail about its plot, but I'll add that it features a nice mix of sentiment and humor.
Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne is a lot of fun and is highly recommended. Is it as good as A Charlie Brown Christmas? No, but few things are. This special is a worthy addition to the holiday specials canon and I expect to watch in during future holiday seasons.
Both are part of the Peanuts catalog now on AppleTV+.
Rudolph's Shiny New Year (1976)
It's not often that an animated special features a song based on something from Persian mathematician and poet Omar Khayyám, but that's just what happens in this standalone sequel to 1964's stop-motion-animation classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
And the song from Father Time, voiced by Red Skelton:
Like Rudolph and most of the subsequent Rankin-Bass stop-motion specials, the plot of this one is ... weird.
The enterprising red-nosed reindeer (aged down from his final appearance in the original special) leads a motley crew of figures from fantasy and history -- a camel, a whale, a caveman, a medieval knight and a sort-of Ben Franklin -- in search of Happy, the lost Baby New Year.
They travel across islands representing eras in time, more or less ... anyway, Happy's big ears make everyone laugh, and that's why he's run away.
But, strange adventures, Rudolph's handy nose, and several songs later, time itself is saved.
Rudolph's Shiny New Year is on Amazon Prime Video, and in its entirety on video site DailyMotion.
Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year (2002)
Yes, this Disney-produced Pooh, but it's from 2002, long before the company had let political ideology seep into just about everything it does.
Produced by Walt Disney Animation (France), this former direct-to-video film combines the 1991 Christmas special Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too with a new film, Happy Pooh Year.
While the two specials don't mesh perfectly in terms of continuity, it's hard to believe any kids would notice or care. It's just the usual antics featuring the denizens of the Hundred-Acre wood, with Christmas-gift mishaps and New Year's Resolutions ... and more of Auld Lang Syne.
It's on iTunes and Disney+ -- and again, in its entirety (though perhaps not the best quality) on DailyMotion.
Curious George: A New Year's Nap (2020)
Part of streamer PeacockTV's Curious George series (precisely episode 9 of season 10), this short finds George struggling to take a nap so he can stay up until midnight on New Year's Eve.
The whole thing also on YouTube:
New Year's Cartoons and Animation Celebration -- A Timeline of NYE Animation (2021)
Above are just a few of the ways that animation has marked New Year's Eve. The video below provides an international timeline to the accompaniment of, of course, Auld Lang Syne (warning, if you search these out, not every one may be suitable for the whole family):
Finally, here's a very Scottish version of Auld Lang Syne:
PS: What does Auld Lang Syne mean?
The lyrics of “Auld Lang Syne” are in the Scots language. The title, translated literally into standard English, is Old Long Since. The words can be interpreted as since long ago or for old times’ sake. The lyrics are about old friends having a drink and recalling adventures they had long ago. There is no specific reference to the new year.
From all of us, have a Happy New Year!
Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Content Manager at Family Theater Productions.