Image: Israel Palacio/Unsplash and Canva
Image: Israel Palacio/Unsplash and Canva

Celebrate Christmas with a podcast

While there are podcasts entirely dedicated to the holiday (as well as podcasts dedicated to every other thing you could possibly imagine), people don’t tend to have favourite Christmas podcasts in the same way they might a Christmas film or song. Podcasts may recognise the holidays any number of ways. Most go on hiatus for several weeks. Others follow in TV’s footsteps and release a Christmas special. Often this is simply a supercut of the ‘best bits’ from that year. A few podcasts do things that are far more interesting.

1) I Hate It But I Love It

I Hate It But I Love It, affectionately known as IHIBILI (pronounced: eye-hi-bye-lie, and doubling as both a greeting and farewell), is ostensibly a movie review podcast. It’s hosted by Kat Angus and Jocelyn Geddie, Canadian writers and editors who are genuinely charming, clever, and funny people. They talk about films, or sometimes TV shows, that they hate but also sort of love. I only listen to the episodes about things I’ve seen, but am always happy to see them in my Podcast Addict feed when they are covering something I’ve heard of. Highlights for me include their episodes on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Office US, and Cats. At the end of each episode, one of them sings an improvised theme song for the show they’ve just recorded, which is the perfect culmination of the high-energy wackiness you’ve just enjoyed for the past hour.

This podcast is no stranger to themed months, my personal favourites having been ‘DecBenBer’ (Ben Affleck films), the ‘Brenessance’ (Brendan Fraser films), Unnecessary Remake Month, and ‘Samtember’ (Samuel L Jackson films). This festive season is no exception, and while covering Christmas movies would be an easy and obvious choice, the brilliant pair have instead opted to celebrate ‘Chris-mas’, reviewing films starring people named Chris. So far this year they have covered: Fantastic Four (2005), featuring a pre-Captain America Chris Evans; Ghostbusters (2016), which includes a himbo receptionist played by Chris Hemsworth; and Wonder Woman 1984 (2020), co-starring Chris Pine. Delightful.

2) Hello Internet

Brady Haran and CGP Grey are giants of educational YouTube content, and their podcast Hello Internet was one of the biggest in the world until it abruptly ended in 2020. The show was the epitome of two dudes talking, often about flags, technology, YouTube, CGP Grey’s new videos, aeroplane crashes, and small things that annoy Haran. It remains to be one of my universal recommendations for anyone curious about what podcasts are or how they could possibly be good. The show had an unofficial Christmas tradition in the form of their annual Star Wars reviews: the Christmas Special in 2015, Rogue One in 2016, The Last Jedi in 2017, and The Rise of Skywalker in 2019.

In 2018, while they chatted about Star Wars LEGO and reflected some more on The Last Jedi, there was no Star Wars film released, so the duo had another idea. Twelve episodes, named after the 12 Days of Christmas, released daily from the 25th December 2018 to 5th January 2019. These short episodes were similar in vibe to the usual episodes but also entailed the opening of Christmas cards from their audience, which contained Q&A questions (and, on one occasion, a five pound note). It was probably a lot of work, hence it didn’t recur in 2019, but it was a great way of drip-feeding their listeners with a fix of their favourite podcast over a period where many of people’s favourite shows simply disappear.

3) A Gay and a NonGay

This show is what it says on the tin – one gay man and one heterosexual, or ‘NonGay’, man chat largely about LGBTQIA+ issues but sometimes about metal music. With the topics being discussed, the presence of a straight man allows the conversations to mirror those I’m sure many queer people experience in day-to-day life, with well-meaning but ignorant straight acquaintances. James Barr (the titular Gay) can come across a bit ditzy compared to the pessimistic Dan Hudson (the NonGay), but their unlikely friendship, while non-existent when the show started in 2015, grows to be quite endearing. The 20-minute episode length is a dream in a world where most podcasts seem to run 50-90 minutes, and Barr routinely speaks more openly about mental health struggles than anyone I’ve ever heard, even on podcasts dedicated to that sort of thing, which I appreciate.

From 2017 through about 2020, the Christmas episodes of the show have featured brief interviews with the one and only Santa Claus. Barr is the driving force behind these interviews, and about 80% of their entertainment value comes from how against the idea Hudson is (as well as the show’s producer and, apparently, several industry experts). The 2017 line of questioning is simply establishing where Santa stands on LGBTQIA+ issues, and how inclusive a workplace Santa’s Workshop is. Turns out he’s a staunch ally, which I’m sure you’ll agree is great news. Following critical acclaim, Santa was re-invited in 2018 to discuss Rudolph as a metaphor for LGBTQIA+ identity, giving coal to transphobes, and Brexit. Despite Hudson’s firm objections that Santa would have anything new to say, 2019’s interview covered the Birmingham’s infamous homophobic protests, and a look back on how far LGBTQIA+ rights have come in the past decade. In 2020, Santa finally agreed with Hudson and cut his interview short to provide his airtime to his wife, Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK star Divina de Campo (now Divina de Campo-Claus). You can’t write this stuff, but they did. That was the last interview with Santa, and that’s probably for the best. While 2021’s special was a relatively light-hearted interview with other Drag Race UK icon Krystal Versace, the 2022 Christmas episode interviewed Mobeen Azhar, the journalist behind a BBC documentary covering a murderous mall Santa who terrorised Toronto’s Gay Village. To bring Santa on after that, even to condemn the killings, would probably not have gone over well.

You can check out any of these three podcasts anywhere you get your podcasts, and be sure to comment below if you know of any others that have found more inventive ways to celebrate the holidays. Lastly, I’d be remiss not to give a brief shoutout to the podcast Cortex, whose last episode of the year is not about Christmas but instead has the annual tradition of talking about yearly themes, a concept you can read all about in an upcoming Lifestyle article.


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