It’s beginning to look a lot like Fishmas

Today’s Bizarro, combining ice fishing for walleye with an annoying Christmas song (plus the Christmas / Fishmas pun):

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(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbol in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there’s just one in this strip — see this Page. The object by the fisherman’s left boot is an auger, for drilling holes in the ice, not a Bizarro symbol.)

Dan Piraro has packed a lot into a single panel here. First, some background: you need to know about ice fishing (in winter-cold places, like around the Great Lakes and in New England and adjacent parts of Canada), and you need to know at least a bit about walleyes. From Wikipedia:

Walleye (Sander vitreus, formerly Stizostedion vitreum) [aka walleye(d) pike] is a freshwater perciform fish native to most of Canada and to the Northern United States. It is a North American close relative of the European Zander, also known as the pikeperch.

… The common name, “walleye”, comes from the fact that the fish’s eyes point outward, as if looking at the walls.

… Walleyes are largely olive and gold in color (hence the French common name: doré —golden). The dorsal side of a walleye is olive, grading into a golden hue on the flanks. The olive/gold pattern is broken up by five darker saddles that extend to the upper sides.

… Walleyes grow to about 80 cm (31 in) in length, and weigh up to about 9 kg (20 lb).

… The walleye is considered to be a quite palatable freshwater fish, and, consequently, is fished recreationally and commercially for food.

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A mounted walleye. Note the serious teeth.

The official walleye season in WI, MN, and MI (areas where the fish is a regional food, and celebrated as such) is roughly May through March, so it extends through deep winter, and walleye are in fact ice-fished.

You also need to know about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and how he saved Christmas. Since his first appearance in 1939, Rudolph has worked his way into the fabric of American popular culture as one of the icons of cultural (rather than religious) Christmas.

Then there’s Fishmas, the pun on Christmas. This little joke has been enshrined in a term for the opening of the trout season in many places (usually some time in April). One Urban Dictionary entry tells us that

Fishmas was est. on the first day of trout season in Pennsylvania in April 1985.

— a claim I haven’t been able to verify. But it seems that the term was in use in this sense before the writers of the Simpsons picked it up in a somewhat different sense and spread it in popular culture:

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From the Simpsons wiki:

“Homer vs. Dignity” is the fifth episode of Season 12 and aired on November 26, 2000.

Short on funds, Homer approaches the ever-wealthy Mr. Burns for a token raise, but when Burns grants his request on the condition that Homer act as his personal jester, the Simpson family finds itself the subject of degrading and embarrassing activities.

… Homer goes to Costington’s [department store] and donates … money to buy toys for poor children. The store owner is moved by this gesture and makes Homer the Santa Claus for the Thanksgiving Day parade. Homer’s job in the parade is to wave from his float, yell “Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!”, and throw presents to the crowd.

Burns sees this as the perfect opportunity to pull a prank on the whole town. He pulls up beside Homer in another float (a pirate ship with the words “HAPPY PRANKSGIVING” on the side) and makes Homer an offer: one million dollars if he’ll throw fish guts onto the crowd instead of presents. Homer is torn between the money and the fact that “Santa can’t be evil!”

Moments later, Lisa sees “Santa” tossing fish guts at the crowd and is heartbroken, until she realizes that Homer is in the crowd with her. The Santa on the float is Burns: “Ho, ho, ho! Merry Fish-mas!” As seagulls invade the town, attacking all those with fish guts on them, Homer says that Lisa gave him an early Christmas present — the gift of dignity.

Fish guts for Fishmas!

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