The Universal Appeal of Christmas Movies

December 11, 2023
Isaac Barker

Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Class of 2024

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In my household, we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas—a beautiful fusion of my dad's Irish Catholic roots and my mom's Jewish heritage. People often assume I get double the presents, but they're divided between the two holidays. Nevertheless, my heart is equally invested in both celebrations: Hanukkah, with its treasured family customs and a radiant celebration of light, and Christmas, adorned with its enchanting spirit of togetherness and joyous festivities.

While I adore both holidays, it's hard to overlook the sheer volume of Christmas-themed media compared to Hanukkah. The wealth of songs, stories, and shows for Christmas is undoubtedly extensive, largely due to its broader celebration. Yet, amid this plethora of holiday content, one particular art form has consistently stood out for me: Christmas movies. They've become my absolute favorite genre, evoking a unique feeling when gathered with family on a cold evening, knowing there's no school tomorrow, and indulging in a Christmas movie marathon.

You might wonder, "Why should I, someone who celebrates Hanukkah, revel in Christmas movies?" It's a fair question. While some of these movies might have strong ties to the religious aspects of Christmas, many carry themes that transcend religious boundaries, offering valuable experiences for people of any faith or background.

Take, for instance, my personal favorite: the 1983 classic, A Christmas Story. This film beautifully captures the universal essence of childhood dreams, family ties, and the enchantment of the holiday season. It goes beyond religious affiliations, resonating with its nostalgic portrayal of Ralphie Parker's pursuit of a Red Ryder BB gun—a tale of innocence, humor, and heartfelt moments that everyone, irrespective of faith, can relate to.

Then there's the 1947 gem, Miracle on 34th Street. This movie, much like Hanukkah, explores themes of belief, miracles, and the power of faith. Kris Kringle's character embodies generosity and the belief in something beyond the tangible, echoing the miracle of Hanukkah—the provision of oil lasting eight days instead of one. Both narratives underline the significance of faith, the celebration of traditions, and the transformative influence of kindness, offering reminders of hope and magic that transcend cultural or religious lines.

Even more contemporary Christmas movies, like 2011's Arthur Christmas, carry forward this tradition of universal appeal. This animated tale about Santa's ultra-modern family delves into family unity, the importance of traditions, and the essence of giving. It encapsulates the holiday's core beyond religious context, emphasizing compassion, teamwork, and spreading joy. Arthur's heartfelt quest to ensure every child receives a present on Christmas morning resonates universally, instilling empathy and the desire to make a positive impact, irrespective of one's beliefs.

In this mosaic of holiday celebrations, Christmas movies radiate as an inclusive and heartwarming art form, extending their warmth beyond religious boundaries. Embracing my mixed heritage of Hanukkah and Christmas has led me to discover the magic within these films—stories that speak a universal language of joy, family, and generosity. From the timeless charm of "A Christmas Story" to the contemporary message of "Arthur Christmas," these movies encapsulate the holiday's essence, offering messages of unity, compassion, and the importance of traditions that resonate universally.

So, regardless of your background, Christmas movies stand as a beacon of warmth and togetherness, inviting everyone to embrace the season's spirit and celebrate the joy that unites us all.

Isaac Barker is an Aleph from Atlanta, GA, and he wants to use his last year in BBYO to help younger members fall in love with BBYO just as he has.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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