Whether you have kids and are looking for something Christmasy to watch with them, or are trying to get yourself in the mood for the holidays, there’s no better way to do that than to watch a Christmas movie.
Christmas movies for most people are essential during December, but why? Why are Christmas movies so popular? Here are a few specific reasons why they tend to be such hits.
Christmas Only Comes Once a Year
Although nothing is stopping anyone from having a tree and decorations up all year round, those are usually things we only get to enjoy in the month of December. Most people want to get the most out of that enjoyment, and having a movie to watch that fits that theme seems like a perfect combination.
That’s one of the reasons why all the streaming services have started offering a selection of Christmas movies this time of year. Sitting down and watching Christmas movies has become a ritual for most people this time of year.
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Christmas Speaks to Some of Our Core Memories
Christmas, even for those who were not raised Christian, has become part of our collective unconscious and it speaks to all of us right away. When you spot a Christmas tree, you either think about the trees you had growing up or about the trees you used to see up in your neighborhood.
One could also argue that it’s a self-feeding machine; the more Christmas movies there are, the more we have feelings and memories around the subject of Christmas. Christmas movies also use a lot of our treasured traditions, like picking out a tree and decorating, shopping, wrapping and then opening presents, the food, the parties, and the people getting together, as pivotal and powerful moments in the story.
Christmas Movies Help Us Connect With Others in a Meaningful Way
As someone who watched Home Alone in the theater and then had the experience of watching it the first time with my 6-year-old child last Christmas, this has become a shared experience we have now, all my childhood memories have come alive and it gave me a chance to bond with my child over something we both enjoy.
Since so many of the themes in these movies tend to deal with themes about connection — falling in love at Christmas, families being together, reconnecting with someone you’ve lost touch with — it’s an easy way to make people think about the loved ones in their lives and how they could connect in a more meaningful way.
Think of all the humor behind National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. At the end of the day, that movie is about a dad trying to have the perfect Christmas with his family. The same goes for The Holiday, which follows the journey of two women falling in love, but is more about being the best version of ourselves. And, who can forget It’s a Wonderful Life, a film that screams having your hope in humanity restored. Christmas movies are about love, human connection, and aspiring to be the best version of ourselves at their core.
There’s Always a Market for Family-Friendly Films
Christmas time is also vacation time for many people. It’s not uncommon for several generations of family members to end up together and ready to see a movie either in the theater or on TV as people unwind and get ready for the next year. When you have to entertain adults of all ages and kids, having something that could appeal to everyone is a huge plus. Thinking in very practical terms, the need for family-friendly, Christmas-themed movies will always exist.
Last year, the dreaded 2020, several Christmas movies were re-released in theaters since there was a lack of new movies and so many releases were either pushed or went straight to streaming because of the pandemic. According to Box Office Mojo, of those re-released movies, Elf was #5 at the box office, Die Hard was #9, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation was #12 and the Polar Express was #13. According to The Wrap, half of Netflix subscribers watched at least one original holiday film released on the platform in. 2019.
What does all of that teach us? That there is a market for these films, and watching them often becomes a tradition for people who rewatch them every year.
Now that you know some of the reasons Christmas movies are so popular, why not go off and experiment with writing your own? Dig deep into your own experiences and memories around Christmas and see what you come up with. Who knows — the story you write might end up being the next Home Alone.
Julia Camara is an award-winning Brazilian screenwriter/filmmaker. Julia won a Telly Award for the sci-fi found footage feature Occupants. Julia’s feature directorial debut In Transit, won Best Experimental Film at four different festivals. Julia’s other writing credits include Area Q and Open Road.