Why the 'Friends' Holiday Armadillo 'hits us right in our softest, mushiest feelings' — and how you can own the iconic costume

Raechal Shewfelt
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
Courteney Cox as Monica Geller and David Schwimmer as Ross Geller in Friends. (Photo: Warner Bros. Television)

As soon as the Friends episode The One With the Holiday Armadillo debuted on the night of Dec. 14, 2000, it was an immediate hit. It was the second most-watched program of the night, behind only to ER.

In the main storyline, Ross attempts to introduce his young son, Ben (played by Riverdale’s Cole Sprouse), to Hanukkah, but Ben isn’t interested. Ross caves and decides to rent a Santa suit at the last minute, but the costume shop is all sold out of them. So Ross ends up stuck with the animal costume, which he puts on to surprise his son. It’s especially funny once Chandler, played by Matthew Perry, surprises them both by showing up wearing a Santa suit. It’s pretty funny but also sweet.

David Schwimmer, right, wears the Holiday Armadillo costume, alongside Matthew Perry and Courteney Cox on Friends. (Photo: Warner Bros. Television)

Now, Warner Bros. Television is auctioning off a studio-authorized reproduction of the costume and dozens more items from all 10 seasons of Friends, from the studio’s props department. Joey’s bedtime penguin Hugsy, a studio-authorized reproduction of the picture frame on Monica’s door and one of Rachel’s dresses will also go up for sale.

Kelsey Miller, the author of I’ll Be There for You: The One About Friends, says that, when she’s talking to people about the show, the Season 7 episode is mentioned regularly.

“Ross’s intentions are so sincere and so earnest, and it’s almost heartbreaking when you think about it, how much he wants to bond with his child in this way,” Miller tells Yahoo Entertainment. “And everybody shows up to support him! It’s a group hug kind of a vibe and that is another thing about Friends that has continued to sustain it. It’s one of those things that hits us right in our softest, mushiest feelings.”

Cole Sprouse and David Schwimmer star in Friends episode "The One with the Holiday Armadillo," which premiered on Dec. 14, 2000. (Photo: NBCU Photo Bank)

Proceeds from the auction, one of the events marking the 25th anniversary of Friends, will benefit the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ young people. It kicks off on Dec. 3, this year’s Giving Tuesday, and runs through Dec. 17.

The Holiday Armadillo costume alone is expected to bring in $10,000 to $15,000.

The Holiday Armadillo costume is going up for auction. (Photo: Warner Bros.)

And people have paid a lot for Friends props in the past.

One of those gold-rimmed picture frames, from Rachel and Monica’s apartment, that had been photographed for a DVD collection of the NBC show sold for more than $52,000 at a December 2011 auction.

Unlike the frame, the Holiday Armadillo costume appeared on the show just once, but it’s still iconic.

“I think it’s a good episode, because one of the things that Friends did really well was do completely absurd storylines but commit to them so well and pull them off,” Miller explains. “I think about ‘The One With the Embryos,’ where they’re playing that contest about who knows who better, that’s a really ridiculous premise. Adults just wouldn’t do that. But they commit to it so well, and it’s this incredible moment of TV comedy, and the same is true for ‘The One With the Holiday Armadillo.’”

She also points out the characters’ chemistry and the sharp writing.

Nineteen years after it debuted, Friends fans continue to appreciate the utterly original character and the episode.

And not just during the holidays. People were mentioning him a few months ago on social media.

They’ll undoubtedly still be talking about him a few months from now.

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