Christmas by medium

Christmas by medium

Christmas themes have long been an inspiration to artists, writers, and weavers of folklore.[neutrality is disputed]Moviemakers have picked up on this wealth of material, with both adaptations of literary classics and new stories.



Many Christmas stories have been adapted to movies and TV specials, and have been broadcast and repeated many times on TV. Since the popularization of home video in the 1980s, their many editions are sold and re-sold every year during the holiday shopping season. Notable examples are the film It's a Wonderful Life, and the similarly themed versions of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, in which the elderly miser Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by ghosts and learns the errors of his ways. By contrast, the hero of the former, George Bailey, is a businessman who sacrificed his dreams to help his community. On Christmas Eve, a guardian angel finds him in despair and prevents him from committing suicide, by magically showing him how much he meant to the world around him.

A few films based on fictionalized versions of true stories have become notable Christmas specials themselves. The story behind the Christmas carol "Silent Night" and the story of "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" are two examples.

Sometimes, family films boasting special effects and/or uplifting messages, but having no real relation to Christmas, are telecast during the season as part of the holiday programming. The Wizard of Oz, for instance, was always telecast during the Christmas season between 1959 and 1962. Other films often seen around the Christmas period are Annie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Great Escape, Mary Poppins, Oliver!, The Sound of Music and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory as well as several animated Disney films, along with DreamWorks Animation productions and Pixar movies.

In the United Kingdom, ITV usually shows a James Bond and/or a Harry Potter films during the Christmas Holidays whilst the BBC shows the Chronicles of Narnia and/or High School Musical films.

In North America, the holiday movie season often includes release of studios' most prestigious pictures, in an effort both to capture holiday crowds and to position themselves for Oscar consideration. Next to summer, this is the second-most lucrative season for the industry. In fact, a few films each year open on the actual Christmas Day holiday. Christmas movies generally open no later than Thanksgiving, as their themes are not so popular once the season is over. Likewise, the home video release of these films is typically delayed until the beginning of the next year's Christmas season.

Television specials and episodes

Before 1962, when Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol premiered, Christmas specials were either adaptations of stories such as A Christmas Carol (with live actors), or the Nativity Story, or episodes of variety shows highlighting Christmas music, and hosted by such celebrities as Perry Como. That all changed once variety shows began dying out in the late 1980s and Rankin-Bass began producing more and more Christmas specials.

United States

In the United States, many television series (particularly those of a family-oriented nature) produce a Christmas episode, although seldom outside of a season's production block. Stand-alone Christmas specials are also popular, from newly created animated shorts and movies to repeats of those that were popular in previous years, such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Some local affiliates provide the Yule Log, a block of time either on Christmas morning or both during the evening hours of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning showing footage of a fireplace, coupled with popular Christmas music. Some local affiliates that provide the Yule Log simulcast Christmas music from a radio station playing it. Every Christmas Day, ABC airs a Christmas parade at Walt Disney World Resort and along with its sister cable network, ESPN, NBA games featuring some of the league's best teams (including, traditionally, the Los Angeles Lakers) and players, broadcasting a doubleheader,[1][2] while NBC airs an ice skating special. Many US sitcoms or dramas like to include Christmas specials in their series. NBA games airing on network television on Christmas Day is notable because it is the day the first NBA games air on network television each season.[1][2][3]

Christmas specials based on classical music have also been well received. Among them have been the many telecasts of the ballet The Nutcracker, the opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, and concert specials featuring musicians such as the Boston Pops, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

United Kingdom

TV programming in the United Kingdom also includes an expanding holiday season. Perhaps aiming for the establishment of new Christmas institutions are the UK's seasonal specials, most notably with shows like Top of the Pops (from 1960s-present), Morecambe and Wise (popular in the 1970s), The Two Ronnies (1980s), Only Fools and Horses (1990s), and more recently, Doctor Who (2000s). The animated tale The Snowman has been screened for many years during the Christmas period, and a new story, Father Christmas, by the same artist and company, is usually broadcast around the same time. In addition, HM Queen Elizabeth II annually broadcasts a 10-minute speech on Christmas Day at 3 p.m., charting her views of the past year and giving her own reflections and advice. Many long-running British soap operas have Christmas specials, usually involving a dramatic storyline developed over several weeks which culminates at Christmas. Often these stories are tragic, involving a death, divorce, a dramatic revelation or similar event.

Most Christmas Specials in the UK are specially commissioned separately to a production season, and many are extended from the usual episode length (for example, the 2007 Doctor Who Christmas Special was 71 minutes as opposed to the standard 45 minutes, was broadcast 6 months after the third series had finished and 4 months before the fourth series started). UK Christmas specials may or may not feature the holiday itself as part of the narrative.


Many radio stations begin to add Christmas music to their rotation in late November, and often switch to all-Christmas programming for December 25. Some do for part of or all of December 24 as well. A few stations switch to all-Christmas music for the entire season (some beginning as early as mid-November); in Detroit, 100.3 WNIC in 2005 started Christmas music day and night on midnight of October 31 because programmers believed that at least some listeners who are attracted by the Christmas music will remain loyal listeners when the station reverts to its standard format on Boxing Day. Radio stations also broadcast classical music, such as the "Hallelujah" chorus from Handel's Messiah. Among other classical pieces inspired by Christmas are Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker and the popular suite drawn from it, and Johann Sebastian Bach's "Christmas Oratorio" (BWV 248). Some radio stations play Christmas music commercial-free the entire day on Christmas Day, with only interruptions for Christmas messages from station personnel and personnel from the station's parent company. Others, like 96.5 KOIT in San Francisco do on both part of or all of Christmas Eve and the entire day Christmas Day.

The UK music industry features the battle of the bands and artists to make it to the Christmas No. 1 spot, recognised on the first Sunday before, or on, Christmas Day. Many of these songs are festive, while others are novelty songs that remain but briefly at the top of the chart. Gospel singer Cliff Richard is a fixture of Christmas charts, appearing nearly every year, and subsequently being mocked for doing so.

As with television, British radio programmes also schedule Christmas specials. These mainly include comedy shows such as I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue and The Now Show.

The popular Music Choice channels have over the past few years have begun playing Christmas music as early as the beginning of November, instead of waiting till after Thanksgiving.


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