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Synopsis:

It’s Hearth’s Warming Eve, and this year Applejack’s family is going to spend the holiday with Pinkie Pie’s family. They take the train out to the rock farm and meet up with all of the Pies: Igneous Rock Pie, Cloudy Quartz, and Pinkie Pie’s three sisters: Maud, Limestone, and Marble. Igneous and Cloudy are rather Puritan-like in their behavior, Marble is shy, Maud is…Maud, and Limestone is hostile and short-tempered, especially about anyone coming near a large rock on their property called Holder’s Boulder. The Apples are soon in for a shock when they find that all of the Pies’ traditions for Hearth’s Warming Eve are rather different and rock-based, but in spite of that Granny Smith, Big Macintosh, and Apple Bloom gradually manage to bond with all but Limestone. The only one left out is Applejack, who believes their traditions are more fun and wants to expose the Pies to them. As a result, on Hearth’s Warming, she’s redone the entire farm in a style more suited to her family and announces they’re doing that day the “Apple” way as a change. This not only causes anger among the Pies, but her placement of the flagpole for raising the Equestrian Banner is on a fault line and ends up causing Holder’s Boulder to roll into the bottom of the quarry. This last action causes Limestone to ask them to leave and both Applejack and Pinkie Pie fear they made their families enemies and ruined the holiday. On the way back to Ponyville on the train, however, Applejack learns from Granny Smith about how Holder’s Boulder, far from being just a big rock, has been important to the Pies for generations, and discovers a hidden present from Pinkie Pie for her (a Pie tradition). Applejack calls for the train to stop and leads her family back to the Pies, apologizing for earlier and saying she should have tried to learn the reason for their traditions and teach her about their own so they could make their own traditions together. The family (even Limestone) accepts and the families join in to roll Holder’s Boulder out of the quarry, and the two begin to share more traditions as they enjoy the rest of Hearth’s Warming together.

Review:

I’m Christian myself and I’m very defensive of the Christmas holiday and calling it that. But even that said, I can understand the lesson this episode was trying to teach and I enjoyed it.

Boil it down, and the ultimate lesson of this episode is respecting other people’s background, tradition, and culture. This is a really easy theme to get preachy about, and, as I mentioned in an earlier review, get preachy and you’ll start shutting people off to the point you’re trying to make. This episode handled it pretty well, though, highlighting exactly what went wrong and where rather than trying to make blanket statements about something. Applejack, naturally, is probably the most pushy and stubborn member of the Mane Six. Yet they made sure for her never to say something like “I just want to show their family our traditions are better” or “our traditions are the right way to do something”. Don’t get me wrong; she did think her traditions were better and she did think they were the right way to do things. But she didn’t spell it out in this episode to make it obvious. Also important is that she didn’t end up suggesting the Pies try their traditions out but suddenly wanted them all to do things her way without talking it over. Granted, I thought the Apples sound much more fun in the way they did things (Seriously, Pinkie, you have the whole dossier on Applejack’s favorite type of party and you got her a rock for Hearth’s Warming Eve?), but it’s clear there’s history behind what the Pies were doing and by outright dismissing it they were, in essence, dismissing the Pies themselves. At no point in the episode does it definitely say the Apples were “doing things right” or the Pies were “doing things right”, because there is no real way in which to do things right except for each individual family. It’s a tactful subject to handle but they handled it well, and it’s something that you normally can’t do a Christmas special about without getting preachy.

In addition, the interactions between the Apples and the Pies were very cute. Slap a FedEx label on Big Macintosh and Marble Pie…I ship it. 😛 I thought it was a nice touch that Granny Smith got along so well with the Pie parents too, when it would have been easy to slam them for having archaic traditions such as arranged marriages (er…not that I’m condoning arranged marriages…I just like how they surprisingly rolled with it rather than went for an obvious offended joke). And…well…remember how I said back in my review of “Maud Pie” that I didn’t care much for her? Apparently, just like with the Mane Six, she grew on me over time. I now look forward to her deadpan, indifferent responses to everything.

So yeah, all in all, I liked this episode a lot. If you have a slew of Christmas episodes you watch every year, this one I think makes a nice change of pace to add to the lineup.

Fun Facts:

This episode is unmistakably a Christmas-themed episode, and yet it aired an entire week before Halloween 2015…which was when the Halloween-themed episode, “Scare Master”, aired. They’ve rearranged episodes before. They couldn’t switch this one?

Spike getting a book for Hearth’s Warming Eve is a joke off of “Secret of My Excess”, in which Spike explained the only thing Twilight ever gives him for presents is books. Considering his greed, it’s probably a good thing…

There are pony versions of Neal and Del from “Plains, Trains, and Automobiles” on the train. 😀

Again, Michele Creber’s country accent kind of comes apart when talking around food, but I can hardly blame her.

The story from the episode “Hearth’s Warming Eve” is retold in “abridged” version with cookies on the train.

The entire Pie family originally appeared in a flashback in “The Cutie Mark Chronicles” in Season One. Since then, Igneous Rock Pie appeared briefly in “Magic Duel”, when it turned out the rock farm Trixie had to work on was that farm (I guess Trixie found other work…pity, because it would have been fun to have seen here there), and the rest of the Pies cameoed again in a picture in “Pinkie Pride”. However, this is the first episode to feature all of them with speaking roles.

Ingeous Rock Pie and Cloudy Quartz are both takeoffs of the Amish.

Ingrid Nilson, the voice of Maud Pie, also provides the voice of Limestone Pie and the “voice” of Marble Pie.

The four Pie sisters all share the same bed, similar to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.

Obviously, most people immediately suspected that Holder’s Boulder was, in fact, a giant unhatched dragon egg. While one could argue it’s a fossilized dragon’s egg at least, everyone should remember that Spike’s egg was far smaller than that, and that all evidence until now has indicated dragons grow from similar eggs. Hence, if this was a dragon’s egg, it would be rather unusual.

The fandom was surprisingly split between pairing Big Macintosh and Marble Pie. Half of them (the half I belonged to) thought they were adorable together and immediately started shipping them five minutes after this episode ended. The other half was…put off. Applejack and Pinkie Pie keep going on about how they might be related. Granted, their official relation, assuming it existed, would be “fourth cousin twice removed”, which means one of their great-great-great-great grandparents might have been married to the other’s great-great-grandparent, which is pretty far apart to be worrying about incest. I guarantee a lot of people are more inbred than that.

A return of Maud’s joke: “They’re all about rocks.”

Another episode where the credit music doesn’t play.

Rating:

3.5 Stars out of 5

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