Don’t forget that Popeye is a Christmas icon
Since the 1930s, Popeye the Sailor has occasionally clashed with Santa, but always offered a sincere "Seasin’s Greetinks!" to all.
In 1933, the first time we saw Popeye celebrate Christmas, it was in the animated short "Seasin’s Greetinks!"
The cartoon opens with Popeye gifting Olive Oyl a pair of ice skates, which she must immediately try out. The couple heads to the lake, where Bluto is waiting to chop up the smooth frozen surface of the river into ice blocks that send Olive sailing out of Popeye’s arms.
The most dazzling Christmas image from this early cartoon finds Popeye landing a blow to Bluto that sends stars shooting from the villain and then casting off of him to decorate a nearby fir tree.
"Seasin’s Greetinks!" began a Christmas tradition of folding Popeye the Sailor into holiday celebrations, and ever since, this particular Popeye cartoon has been a favorite to screen at nostalgia-themed theater events held during the Christmas season.
But for the biggest Popeye fans, the sailor man himself became a decorative element for their own Christmas trees, as Popeye’s Christmas Tree Set sold in 1935 and 1936. The colorful string of lights that came in this treasured box showed all Popeye’s friends, with different scenes drawn onto each bulb in the set.
Soon, Popeye Christmas cards followed, with slogans like "Seasin’s Greetinks" or "Spinach Greetings."
Then in 1955, we got our next Popeye Christmas short with "Mister and Mistletoe."
This one’s notable because it features Popeye’s first scrap with "Santa," who is actually Bluto in disguise.
In "Mister and Mistletoe," Santa flirts with Olive while Popeye is busy trimming the tree, but once Bluto’s ruse is revealed, the cartoon ends with Bluto clocked and Popeye dressed as Santa.
Naturally, this only led audiences to want more Popeye at Christmastime and in 1961, the longest Popeye Christmas cartoon yet was released.
"Spinach Greetings" finds Santa not on the other end of Popeye’s spinached fist but kidnapped by a Sea Hag!
Instead of Olive needing saving, it’s Santa who Popeye must rescue in this episode of the Sixties Popeye the Sailor animated series.
When you watch "Spinach Greetings," the background scenes in the cartoon look like beautiful Christmas cards in themselves, where each screenshot seems to deliver more and more cheer.
Although Popeye may not today be the first cartoon character to come to mind at Christmas, the sailor man remains a Christmas icon in our eyes.
Anyone out there still making Popeye part of their holiday tradition?