WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

Maddie: Isn't that interesting. Mary and Joseph are traveling.

Cory: There is no room for them in the inn.

Zack: And that night a child is born.

Esteban: What a coincidence.

London: I don't get it.

It's Christmas Eve and you are a heavily pregnant woman. Luckily, your due date is still a few weeks away, leaving you free to go out and enjoy the celebrations ... but wait! Before the night is over you will end up in a stable, on the steps of a church or a similarly symbolic location, giving birth as the clock strikes midnight. And don't be surprised if there are shepherds nearby or a star overhead.

Basically, when a character gives birth on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day in a direct imitation of the Nativity. May be used as the high point of a Christmas Episode or the dramatic conclusion to a pregnancy storyline.

It's going to suck for that baby to have their birthday and Christmas presents lumped together for the rest of their natural born life.[1]

Compare Messianic Archetype and Crucified Hero Shot for the other half of the Jesus-analog.

Examples of Away in a Manger include:


  • One of The Punisher Max series Christmas specials had this plot.


  • In the nuclear holocaust movie Threads, Ruth gives birth in a stable because a guard dog prevented her from reaching the nearby farmhouse. She is then seen in a mock nativity tableau, sitting around a fire with other survivors on Christmas Day.
  • The Spanish movie The Day of the Beast hinges about The Antichrist being born on Christmas Eve. In Madrid. Under the KIO Towers.
  • Happens in the Steve Martin film Mixed Nuts.
  • In Monty Python's Life of Brian, Brian is born at the same time as Jesus, in the manger next door.
  • In Rabbit Test, Billy Crystal plays a pregnant man on the lam who eventually gives birth on Christmas Eve while his gypsy girlfriend and a wacko doctor attend him in a schoolbus in a junkyard. The girlfriend's three brothers are dressed in magi robes outside.
  • Happens at the end of the French comedy Les Rois Mages (The Three Kings).


  • Amazingly enough, averted in the Heliand, an early Saxon adaptation of the Gospels. The author was apparently reluctant to portray Mary and Joseph, both established as nobles, as going without shelter in their hometown, and so omits this detail from his work.

Live Action TV

 Alice: I'm confused. Have I, in fact, given birth to the Son of God?

Geraldine: No, because for one thing, she's a girl, isn't she.

  • The last ever episode of Birds of a Feather had Sharon giving birth in a stable on Christmas Eve.
  • In the Christmas Episode of UK sitcom The Thin Blue Line, a homeless woman detained at the police station suddenly goes into labour on Christmas Eve.
  • The Royle Family had a Christmas Episode that used this trope.
  • In the episode of Eastenders broadcast on Christmas Day 1990, Disa O'Brien gave birth in an abandoned building.
  • Scrubs has Turk delivering a baby of a teenage runaway late on Christmas Eve, but who escapes the hospital just before going into labour - Turk finds her by following a star, and after the birth, everyone gathers round for a nice Christmas carol. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww...
  • In The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, the Christmas Episode featured a couple named Mary and Joseph, and Mary gave birth in the Tipton elevator on Christmas Eve. And since the show takes place in a hotel, there was "no room at the inn".
    • Everyone noticed the coincidence and hung a lampshade on it, except for London who didn't get it.
  • Happens in the "An Angel on the Roof" episode of Touched By an Angel. The episode has several groups of characters being brought together by the angels at a motel on Christmas Eve, one of which is an illegal immigrant couple with a pregnant wife. It climaxes not only with the wife giving birth, but also with everyone staging a full "living Nativity" tableau that protects the couple from being arrested and deported (they were related to the motel owner; the angels manipulated circumstances to unite them).
  • Nightingales has a heavily pregnant woman named Mary arrive on Christmas Eve at the office block where the show is set. After assuring them she's not an allegory, she then proceeds to give birth to, among other things, a toaster, the Pope, Harold Pinter and a tandem.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger not only has this, the happy couple are named Jose (who gave up a life of crime in a gang and is now running a woodworking shop) and Maria.
    • That's fairly subtle for this show...
  • Done in an episode of Moonlighting. It included a trio of FBI agents, all of them named Wiseman.
  • Newhart had an episode where it was Christmas Eve at the Stratford Inn and a guest ended up giving birth. Luckily for her, there happened to be a group of snowbound physicians staying there as well. In the tag, three brothers named "Weissman" showed up to check in.
  • Baby William's birth (and mysterious conception) on The X-Files hold allusions to the Jesus birth story; though it takes place in mid-May rather than December. After going through a pregnancy that shouldn't have physically been able to happen, Scully is whisked away to an abandoned town by fellow agent Monica Reyes to give birth to her son, who is wanted by Super Soldiers intent on kidnapping him. While going out for a cigarette, Monica spies a proverbial "Star of Bethlehem", which Mulder eventually uses to find out where they are. At the end of the episode, the Lone Gunmen step in as the Three Wise Men, visiting Scully and the baby at her apartment bearing gifts. Not to mention the baby was meant as a parallel to Jesus himself: prophecy put him as the saviour of the human race from impending alien invasion. Poor little guy.
  • Parodied in the Bottom episode "Holy", when Richie finds a baby left on the doorstep of the flat during their Christmas party. True to form, following a few similarities to the Nativity story he lets this go completely to his head, convinced that he's the "Mother of God" who has maintained his virginity because he's "better than everyone else in the world", and threatening to ensure that the other characters are sent to Hell by his 'husband'. It turns out it's the grandson of their landlord, who left him on the step because he couldn't be bothered dealing with the kid himself.
  • Hanginwith Mr. Cooper
  • The season nine NCIS episode "Newborn King" put Gibbs in the role of Delivery Guy to a Marine lieutenant being pursued by mercenaries. And he pulled it off while Ziva fought and killed the last merc in the next room.
  • Subtly subverted/inverted in the seventh season Christmas Episode of How I Met Your Mother, where Robin finds out she's infertile and "loses" her imaginary future children.


  • Adventures in Odyssey "Unto Us a Child in Born", in which Mary Barclay, playing Mary in a live radio play of the Nativity has to be rushed to the hospital.


  1. Unless the parents decide to celebrate their half-birthday instead.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.