Nintendo have continued to use Turkey Day and Toy Day in the English version of Animal Crossing: New Horizons; despite Japanese players seeing the in-game events as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
As reported by Censored Gaming, the recent trailer for the next major update for the game featured differences between the English and Japanese versions. While in English two of the game’s events are dubbed Turkey Day and Toy Day, in Japanese these are referred to as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In addition, the reindeer Jingle says “Happy Holidays!” in English, while in Japanese he says “Merry Christmas!” Due to how the game handles the “voices” of its villages (each letter said very quickly), you can hear Jingle say Merry Christmas in the Japanese trailer at 0:37.
Thanksgiving Day in Japanese is サンクスギビングデー, Christmas Eve is クリスマスイブ, and Merry Christmas is メリー・クリスマス (Translation: DeepL). You can find the comparison shots from both trailers below.
In prior entries of the game, Turkey Day had previously been known as the Harvest Festival in English, while Toy Day has been how Christmas was localized since the first game. Easter also continues to be called Bunny Day, while all but the first game refer to Bonfire Night as the Fireworks Show.
It is curious that many of these western and US-centric celebrations have kept their original names in the Japanese version of the game, while the western versions have continued to change them in localization. Players can nonetheless buy seasonal items based on various celebrations of the world, depending on the time of year.
In some western cultures, Happy Holidays is used to be a more inclusive version of Merry Christmas around the period, as several other religions and cultures celebrate their own festivals or observe practices on a date close to December 25th.
The usage has also been criticized by some as the “war on Christmas;” whether it be pandering to avoid offence by corporations or individuals, or attempting to oust the celebration and its Christian origins from western nations in favor of an amalgamation of celebrations and religions.
The recent Capcom ransomware leaks revealed some of their politically correct marketing strategies, including news on upcoming and unannounced games in development. Among the documentation includes a presentation on political correctness and advertising materials, and how to avoid drama and controversy.
This includes avoiding the use of language that can be deemed as discriminatory or prejudice, and will result in new guidelines for each region’s PR and advertising material creators. The presentation also asks to defer to the localizers of different regions and vendors to make sure certain content is appropriate. Examples included the use of Happy Holidays over Merry Christmas.
Speaking to one of the game’s developers, Sausageroll reported in late March that gender being removed from the game’s character creation screen in English versions of the game was due to backlash from LGBTQ activists. This came after they were outraged to see the selection of gender in Japanese screenshots of the game.
The English game features players choosing a “style” rather than a gender, but not for other western languages such as Spanish or Italian. It should be noted players can freely change their “style” whenever they want, and wear clothes and use hair styles of either gender.
The villager Bud (a surfer-dude lion) also seemingly had his initial phase changed from “maaan” (as it is in Japanese and past entries) to “shredded” in English.
Speaking to the Washington Post, the game’s director Aya Kyogoku stated that the flexibility in customization was just about gender, but the team’s feeling how “society is shifting to valuing a lot of people’s different identities.”
At the very least, it seems Nintendo want to avoid controversy with the series. In recent news, Nintendo released guidelines for businesses and organizations seeking to use the game; specifically asking them not to bring politics into it.
The move was likely inspired by the Joe Biden 2020 US election campaign creating yard signs for the game (or rather, Custom Designs that can be placed on a sign or other furniture and clothing in game). The Biden-Harris campaign organizers also reportedly sent the design to “a handful of gaming influencers” who will be sharing gameplay with the signs.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is available on Nintendo Switch.