Although I had originally intended this to be a shrine for just Jazz Jackrabbit 2: Christmas Chronicles, I wound up deciding to cover every single Christmas-themed Jazz Jackrabbit episode. The actual details of the various Christmas releases are head-bangingly convoluted and a tad obscure, so I've decided to jot down everything I know just for posterity:
- Holiday Hare 1994 is a shareware, stand-alone four level (three regular levels, and one secret one) episode that takes place on the Christmas-themed planet Holidaius during various parts of the day. It utilises the original Jazz Jackrabbit engine. It was later added to the original Jazz Jackrabbit game in a subsequent release that also added three new bonus episodes. In that release, it was merely called "Holiday Hare".
- Holiday Hare 1995 is a shareware, stand-alone five level episode (four regular levels and one secret one) that takes place on the candy-themed planet Candion and the lego/toy-themed planet Bloxonius. Much like its predecessor, it uses the original Jazz Jackrabbit engine, however, it was never included in a subsequent release of the original game and can only be played as the standalone episode. As a result, it is unfortunately rather obscure these days, although still available for download for free. GOG does offer it as part of their Jazz Jackrabbit collection, but it still comes as a separate .EXE file.
- Holiday Hare 1998 is a stand-alone episode utilising the Jazz Jackrabbit 2 engine that features three levels on a Christmas-themed world. There are new variants of the regular Turtle and Lizard enemies that feature Santa hats, a beautiful new background song called 'White Hare' (same one that is playing on this page!), and a boss that was scrapped from the original Jazz Jackrabbit 2 game.
Although the planet this episode takes place on is never named in any offical literature, it does feature a neighbourhood that contains two signs labeling it as "Burrowsville". Despite some superficial similiarities, Holidaius from Holiday Hare 1994 and the planet in this episode share almost no common species beyond the nigh-omnipresent turtles, and Holidaius is never shown to have any of the homes and other artificial structures that are so common in Holiday Hare 98's setting. Unlike the previous shareware episodes, this version was released retail, and only in North America.
- Christmas Chronicles is a 1999 re-release of the aforementioned Holiday Hare 98 featuring much the exact same content, but with the addition of Lori Jackrabbit as a playable character, the inclusion of the Jazz Creation System (which allows for modding the game), and six fan-made levels that were created for an Easter-themed Jazz Jackrabbit 2 level creation competition. It also uses the updated Jazz Jackrabbit 2 engine (v1.24) that was used for its Secret Files release.
Christmas Chronicles was meant to be sent as a gift to everyone who had purchased and registered a copy of the Secret Files, but this was later scrapped due to the publisher, Project2, going bankrupt. In contrast to the North America-only Holiday Hare 98, Christmas Chronicles was only given a retail release in Poland and eventually other European countries. All of the wording on the game box and the manual was written out in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, so a Europe-wide release does seem to have been the original intention.
Thankfully, as with Holiday Hare 1995, GOG later made Christmas Chronicles available for everyone together with the other versions of Jazz Jackrabbit 2.
There was also supposed to be a Christmas level competition, the best entries of which would be made downloadable from the website of the publisher, Project 2, according to verbiage present on the box. Although the game does provide the player with a code to download these levels, "xmasbunny", at the end of the final level, the publisher's website, www.project2.com, went offline almost immediately after Christmas Chronicle's release, and it does not look like these levels were ever actually made available for download. On the bright side, Jazz Jackrabbit 2 Online still hosts decades worth of fan-made Jazz levels, including many Christmas-themed ones.