Select Page

What Defines A Christmas Movie And What Films Classify

What Defines A Christmas Movie And What Films Classify


The Debate Continues, What Are The Makings Of A Christmas Movie?

When it comes to Christmas films, there is an adequate amount of subjectivity in regards to the which movies can be considered a holiday tradition. Movies like “Elf” or “A Christmas Story” are apparently influenced by the holiday while other films like “Die Hard” or “Gremlins” are constantly debated. So how is a film categorized as a Christmas movie?

The Setting


In the simplest arguments, people relegate a Christmas film to its setting. If the film takes place during Christmas with even the smallest mention, some will consider it to be a Christmas movie. Films like “Lethal Weapon” and “Trading Places” are two examples that briefly mention the holiday but have another central theme.
Using setting for the sole argument for classifying a Christmas movie holds little water. Just because Winthorpe (Dan Aykroyd) crashes his company’s Christmas party or Riggs (Mel Gibson) battles on a holiday decorated lawn, these scenes do not drive the film’s plot.

The Theme


The setting alone does not make a Christmas film, but when it is accompanied by a holiday theme long-winded debates ensue. The theme may not dictate every aspect of the film, but Christmas is usually present throughout. “Die Hard” is probably the most notable film that falls under holiday scrutiny. It takes place on Christmas Eve, the music is predominately holiday-oriented, there are numerous quotes and moments related to the season, and the decor paints a clear holiday picture. But despite so many attributes supporting the theme, the presence of violence and crime seemingly dampens the Christmas experience for some. So while the theme is a clear indicator for many, there are other elements that may negate a film’s Christmas validity.

The Values


There are certain values that some argue must be present to call a piece of cinema a Christmas movie. As many associate Christmas with family and altruistic values, these feelings associated with the holiday are often a selling point for Christmas enthusiasts. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a film that embodies these values and has rarely been disregarded as a Christmas film. The main character is a father and husband that makes his living helping others. As he considers ending his life, an angel revitalizes his spirit by showing him his true worth. With a warm happy ending and overall theme, this is what most hope for in a Christmas film.

The Title


The most apparent and definitive making of a Christmas film is the title. There are few exceptions when it comes to “Christmas” or something Christmas-related being present in the title of a film. As a blatant indicator of a film’s purpose, the title is the most indisputable indicator of a film’s holiday classification. Comedies like “Christmas Vacation” or “The Santa Clause” get a stamp of approval and the predisposed message in their titles establishes a lack of subjectivity.

The Audience


While this aspect may be a bit of a cop out, holiday traditions are different for everyone. One’s view of the holidays may be vastly different than another’s. Personally I consider films like “Gremlins” and “Die Hard” fun holiday traditions while many proclaim otherwise. But while the debates may be ongoing for the years to come, like any other film, your experience may differ.

Let’s keep the fun going. Vote on whether these film classify as Christmas films or not and comment below with your thoughts.

Christmas Movie

Not A Christmas Movie

Die Hard
Lethal Weapon
Trading Places
Batman Returns
The Nightmare Before Christmas

About The Author


Ryan has been fascinated with film and pop culture since childhood. Throughout college he "played it safe" taking the more lucrative route of being a computer programmer while squeezing in film related courses where he could...but even during his post college career, he could never escape his true passion. After following one of his favorite blogs for a long time, he approached the site's Editor about writing and they reluctantly gave him a shot. He later became their Senior Writer which led to a variety of other projects, radio show appearances, features, and high profile celebrity interviews. Despite his success with blogging, he still wanted more so in order to expand his creative addiction, he merged his IT skills and blogging know-how to create which has continued to grow into a creative Mecca of pop-culture fun and integrity.   [email protected]    Film Fad

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments







Would love your thoughts, please comment.x