Classic holiday movies offer comfort through common themes


As the holidays approach, one of the most popular and anticipated festivities of the season is watching classic holiday movies. Almost everyone has watched a classic holiday movie like Elf, White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, How the Grinch Stole Christmas or Home Alone at least once. Although the plots of these movies are completely different, they all have a plethora of similarities which solidify their titles as holiday classics. Some of the most common criteria of a timeless holiday movie includes holiday spirit fixing everything, a cynic’s heart melting and two people falling madly in love during the holidays.

In holiday movies, the magic of the holiday spirit fixes every problem. In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Halloweentown’s beloved pumpkin king Jack Skellington is bored and tired of Halloween. After briefly seeing Christmas Town, Jack is instantly full of Christmas spirit, strives to be apart of Christmas and takes on the role of Santa Clause. The movie Elf  is about Buddy the Elf who, after being accidently transported to the North Pole as a baby, grows up and finds out he is not really an elf. Upon this realization, he goes to New York to meet his real father, a cynical businessman named Walter. There, Buddy’s spirit and love for Christmas help transform Walter’s disconnected family.

A second common theme in holiday movies is that an unspirited person has his or her heart melted and learns to love the holidays. This is evident in movies such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Christmas Carol. In How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Grinch has a small heart and does not believe in celebrating the holidays and attempts to ruin everyone else’s Christmas. Without any surprise, after meeting Cindy Lou Who, the Grinch becomes extremely spirited and helps spread Holiday Spirit. The same story line is evident in A Christmas Carol. The main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, is a cold-hearted miser who has resentment and hate towards the holiday season. Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Past, Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come. As expected, these ghosts transform Scrooge into a festive, happy, and spirited man, and teach him the true meaning of the holidays.

A final common pattern in many of the movies is the tendency of a couple falling in love during the holidays. The holiday classic While You Were Sleeping revolves around  Lucy, a Chicago Transit Authority token collector, and the man she quickly falls in love with, Jack. Jack and Lucy are brought together by an unexpected turn of events, and, of course, fall in love during the holiday season. White Christmas is a classic holiday movie about a song-and-dance team falling in love with  a sister act of two women, and together they try to save the failing Vermont Inn of their former commanding general.While saving the inn, both couples fall in love around the holiday time.

“Although some holiday movies are very similar, nothing gets me in the holiday spirit like a classic,” said junior Emma Burke.

Frequent themes running through holiday movies include every complication being resolved through one’s love of the holidays, an unspirited person having a life changing experience that causes them to become cheerful and kind and people being lovestruck around the holidays. Maybe the lack of cliches in other holiday movies is the reason they have not become timeless holiday favorites. Although themes are often repeated through multiple holiday movies, and most holiday movies end in a cliche these movies remain classics during this season because of the nostalgia, spirit and happiness they bring to everyone.