‘Twas the night before Hogswatch…

Hogswatch is just around the corner, and you should be excited.  For over a decade, Sir Terry Prachett’s masterpiece Hogfather has offered readers the chance to see the holidays through magic-forged lenses.  Never mind if you’ve never read Prachett’s Discworld novels before.  Hogfather is easily a stand-alone tale of a wily assassin out to end the life of a beloved holiday figure, a duchess striving for a normal life, and death taking up the role of delivering presents and driving a sleigh. 

Hogfather is a welcome addition to our holiday offerings, because it fashions a believable world where traditions are similar yet diverge from our own.  There are stockings, gift giving, delicious food and family reunions, but the Discworld take on these institutions are a wonderful mix of mythology, parody, and magic.  In our world, there are holiday traditions you may love or despise.  Presents need to be purchased, parties planned, and food prepared.   Sometimes it’s easier to forego these niceties, but they surround us just the same. 

This rings true for Hogfather character Susan, the duchess-turned-governess who happens to be Death’s granddaughter.  She’s the reluctant heroine of the story, initially rolling her eyes at the beginning of her quest to save the Hogfather, but finding a new rapport with her grandfather and saving Hogswatch for everyone over the course of the story.

In an interesting twist on saving the holiday, it’s Death who helps keep the spirit of Hogswatch alive by dressing as the Hogfather and delivering presents to the Discworld children.  Death’s manservant and snarky sidekick Albert coaches him with jolly exclamations, scheduling apperances, and present giving etiquette.  During one visit to a local department store, all of Albert’s advice leads Death to distribute real weapons (to a girl, no less), live animals, and obscure or seemingly inappropriate items.  These presents and gifts are met with opposition by parents and store managers.

The DVD version of  Hogfather is an excellent adaptation of the book and features a tip-top list of actors including Michelle Dockery, David Warner, David Jason, Marc Warren, and Ian Richardson.  With a three hour and change running time, you can enjoy this film in two parts or as a marathon.  Just make sure to have the pork pies and sherry laid out for the Hogfather when you’ve turned off the telly and go to bed.


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