What is the multi-calendar in ‘The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special’ and is it in the comics?

the guardians of the galaxy holiday special
Photo via Marvel Studios

Warning: The article contains spoilers for The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.

In The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special on Disney Plus, the plot of the 40-minute Marvel Special Presentation revolves around Christmas. But just how do a group of aliens even know when Christmas takes place in the first place?

In the Holiday Special, Pom Klementioff’s Mantis and David Bautista’s Drax travel to Earth to kidnap the actor Kevin Bacon to present him as a Christmas gift to Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, in order to cheer him up after the death of his beloved, Zoe Saldaña’s Gamora. At one point in the special, Sean Gunn’s Kraglin tells the Guardians that according to something called the “multi-calendar,” Christmas is coming soon. What is this multi-calendar and does it have precedent in the comics?

According to our research, there is no device called a multi-calendar in the Guardians of the Galaxy comics or in Marvel comics, in general. So what could this device be? Based on the context clues within the special itself, it would probably be a pretty decent hypothesis that a multi-calendar is simply a calendar that tracks the dates — and accompanying local holidays — from disparate planets and solar systems into one document. Such a thing would be needed in an intergalactic context since even different planets within our own solar system have differing lengths of days, weeks, months, and years due to those measurements of time depending on a heavenly body’s rotation and the amount of time it takes to revolve around the sun. But is there more to it than that?

Another multi-calendar in history

The historical figure known as Saint Jerome — who was responsible for the translation work that went into the creation of Europe’s first standard Latin Bible — also translated into Latin a now-lost original ancient Greek text known as the Chronicon of Eusebius. The text was described as a “multi-calendar record of assorted events from Abraham to the late 300s,” according to a blog post by the historian Ada Palmer.

Jerome only lived from 347-420 AD, and Christmas was not adopted with its Dec. 25 date by Christians until the early fourth century (per History). Therefore, it’s unlikely the traditional winter solstice holiday would have been mentioned in relation to the birth of Jesus in the Chronicon of Eusebius (even if we still had the original text in its entirety).

Whether or not the multi-calendar in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special was an intentional nod to the Chronicon of Eusebius, it is still interesting to think about the implications in the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the parallels we can draw. For instance, the Chronicon is an attempt at a universal history, with a summary of events being provided for every nation that was known up to that point.

If the Guardians’ multi-calendar is also a universal history, perhaps that chronology includes events that have unfolded in alternative universes — much like a more robust version of the Chronicon‘s multi-country scope. And since the MCU’s current Multiverse Saga heavily incorporates parallel dimensions, that could mean the multi-calendar could come into play at some point in future Marvel movies or TV shows.