What is a Christmas movie?

Its that time of year again.
You’ll see websites posting their all time favourite Christmas films and TV shows, and you’ll see the same old examples being brought up again.


But I’ve been thinking, what is it that makes a Christmas movie a Christmas movie anyway?

Let’s just look at a few of my favourite Christmas films.
I’ll start with the more unorthodox ones first.

DH Grem 2 LW

Die Hard, Gremlins and Lethal Weapon:
Yeah I know, not exactly what you’d immediately think of when you want a Merry Christmas film really. But they all do take place over the Christmas period, so that makes them Christmas films right?
There is no real Christmas message or meaning behind the films I admit, but they are set in and around Christmas.

Or how about my all time favourite Christmas movie ever?


Its A Wonderful Life:
Ahhhhhhh, Jimmy Stewart. One of my favourite actors of all time and this one has Christmas Classic written all over it. Yet unlike my previous examples, it hardly takes place over Christmas at all. The opening takes place at Christmas, as does the ending. But everything else in between takes place everywhere except Christmas. In fact more of this film takes place outside of the Christmas period than or does during the Christmas period.
But it’s still considered a Christmas Classic, despite having very little to do with Christmas…why?

To be honest, Its A Wonderful Life has a heart warming story behind it all and that is why many consider it a Christmas film. But really, that exact same story could have been told without the Christmas opening and ending, have those set any other time of the year and we wouldn’t be calling it a Christmas film, even with the exact same plot.

Which brings me to another classic.


A Christmas Carol:
Pick a version, any of the number versions there are of his story.
Now personally, A Christmas Carol is one of my all time favourite stories. Be it the all time great Alastair Sim version, The Muppets amazing take on the tale or even Bill Murray’s Scrooged. Its a great story no matter how many times or how its told.
But like Its A Wonderful Life, this story has a meaningful and heart warming message. Yet it could be set any time of the year and we wouldn’t be thinking of it as a Christmas film at all.
Why couldn’t Ebenezer Scrooge have learned to be a better man in the summer?

So its the story and meaning that’s important when talking about Christmas movies then right?


Home Alone:
Again another film considered a Christmas Classic. But the film is about a kid left home alone. Then thieves try to break into the house while the kid fends them off with home made traps…this is Christmasy why?
There is no Christmas message or spirit. Its basically a live action Tom & Jerry cartoon, only not as entertaining.

Oh there are many other great films I could bring up. Ones with a meaningful Christmas message like; Miracle on 34 Street. Or Christmas film that are only set at Christmas and have no other relation to Christmas like; Trading Places.

So what is it that makes a Christmas movie a Christmas movie?
It can’t be the story as many Christmas Classics have nothing to do with Christmas from a plot/story perspective. But can you really consider a film a Christmas one just because it is set during Christmas?
For me, that is like saying a scary film is only scary if set during Halloween.


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