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13 Ways The Hunger Games Is Sort of Like the Holidays

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Everett; Getty

Your Thanksgiving meal may be a distant memory, but if you thought the real-life Hunger Games were done for the year, you’re wrong. The December holidays – Channukah, Christmas, New Year’s – are the real time of the year where America transforms, if only for a brief period, into a spectacle with all the majesty and horror of a typical Panem Hunger Games. Below, 13 reasons why your Christmas has a little more Katniss than you ever realized.

1. EVERYONE COMES TOGETHER FROM ALL OVER THE NATION

The Capitol, as seen in The Hunger Games
It’s the special time of year when we put aside our differences and gather together in a central location (often an airport or train station). Sure, people from one District might not have a whole lot in common with people from another, but in a sense, that’s what this holiday is about, isn’t it? One crucial difference, though: In real life you only fantasize about killing them all.

2. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE KIDS

Happy children unwrap their presents, free from the deprivation and misery that greets children in the Districts each winter
Getty
In both The Hunger Games and the holidays, children are the focal point. In today’s culture we sacrifice our time and sanity to get our kids the perfect gift, and it’s all worth it to see their excited little faces Christmas morning. In Panem, they skip the middleman and just sacrifice the kids.

3. PRESIDENT SNOW IS LIKE SANTA CLAUS, RIGHT DOWN TO THE BEARD

Donald Sutherland as President Snow (left) and Santa Claus
Everett; Getty
He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake.

4. AND HAYMITCH IS EVERY DRUNK UNCLE YOU’VE EVER HAD

Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Everett
Sure, he’s salty, and he does love his liquor, but you know deep down he’s got a heart of gold. You can find it right next to his interesting conspiracy theories, which just so often turn out to be right.

5: EFFIE TRINKET IS ESSENTIALLY AN ELF

Eliabeth Banks as Effie Trinkett (L) and a holiday elf (R)
Everett: Getty
They’re both colorful and cheery, even in the most incongruous of circumstances. Plus, what do elves love the most? Trinkets. Suzanne Collins planned this from day one, we tell you.

6. BLACK FRIDAY IS BASICALLY THE HUNGER GAMES ALREADY

Isn’t it obvious? The day after Thanksgiving has become an annual spectacle in which desperate people are pitted against each other by an unfair system, monitored the entire time by a technological elite looking for entertainment in every fresh outbreak of violence. (That’s right, all you Twitter jokesters – you guys are the Capitol.)

7. IF YOU MAKE IT TO THE END, THERE WILL BE PRESENTS WAITING

A traditional holiday cornucopia, much less dangerous than the one featured in The Hunger Games
Getty
Everyone needs something, whether it’s a new Hot Wheels Car, the latest Xbox console, or antibiotics to keep your bloody knife wound from festering. If you can hold on to the end, your glittering prize awaits, either at the Cornucopia or under the Christmas tree. Watch out, though – the mad dash for presents can have some nasty results.

8. THE LOTTERY IS THE WORLD’S WORST VERSION OF SECRET SANTA

District 12’s Reaping in The Hunger Games
Everett
Your name is in a bowl (or a hat, or any other container). They say you should be proud if it’s picked, that it’s an honor, but you know the truth. If your name is chosen, odds are you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of a nasty gift, be it a machete to the jugular or a pair of ugly socks two sizes too small.

9. SOME PEOPLE ARE MORE PREPARED THAN OTHERS

Career Tributes in the first Hunger Games film
Murray Close/Lionsgate/Everett
You know how it goes: Every year, you spend weeks getting ready for the big day. It’s easy to tell yourself you’re doing everything right, that this time, for once, you’ve got a chance. And then the games begin, and you catch a glimpse of your neighbor. Maybe he’s made a second career out of creating the world’s most beautiful holiday lighting display, or maybe he’s a Career and has a spear that he’s about to thrust into your chest. Either way, the takeaway is the same: You definitely did not prepare enough for this.

10. NO ONE WANTS TO DO IT, BUT IT’S TRADITION

Not everyone feels the holiday cheer
Getty
The party line says Christmas is a glorious occasion, one where we celebrate both our religious ancestors as well as the spirited culture of our great nation. But among the crowds of people loudly proclaiming their cheer, lies a silent majority of malcontents dreading the yearly spectacle. In The Hunger Games, this repression eventually leads to a violent revolution, but Christmas carols would have to get really bad for that to happen in the real world.

11. YOU’VE GOT TO LIE TO GET THE GIFTS YOU WANT

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is interviewed by Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Everett
Just as sponsors don’t want to support a Tribute who’s not going to win, grandparents don’t want to support a grandchild who’s majoring in poetry. The solution for both situations is simple: Just lie. Consider yourself lucky – pretending to be a mature and stable person is a lot easier than pretending to be in love with a baker’s boy you’ve barely ever talked to (even if he is kind of hot).

12. THERE’S A TRAIN!

The Polar Express as seen in the 2004 movie of the same name
Everett
In The Hunger Games, Katniss’s train ride is her first introduction to the glitz and glamour of the Capitol. In The Polar Express, the titular train is its riders’ first introduction to the wonder of the North Pole. Trains: They take you to a magical world (that may end up killing you).

13. WATCH OUT FOR BERRIES

The berries of a holly plant: alluring, yet toxic
Gett
Though they may look appetizing, holly berries are toxic, so make sure to keep any clueless Peetas in your life from ingesting them. Unlike the Hunger Games‘ unexpectedly lethal nightshade berries, they won’t end your life, but eating them could make you sick. As Foxface learned, it only takes a few berries to ruin both the Hunger Games and the holidays.

Watch Elizabeth Banks rate her chances in the real-life Hunger Games below:

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