Let’s get this Christmas roast a-cooking. We’re not actually roasting anything today, unfortunately, but we are talking about what makes a Christmas classic, and I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Christmas lunch or dinner that doesn’t have a good bit of roast meat. That and Farrah Moan just got eliminated from All Stars 4 and I’m kind of not over it.
Anyway, back on topic; Christmas classics. When I think of classic Christmas things I think of Love, Actually (go read our review, it was done by our amazing intern Corina and she killed it), Home Alone and Mariah Carey rising from the pits of obscurity singing All I Want For Christmas Is You. Each of them is almost synonymous with Christmas because of a couple of reasons; they’re released around Christmas and they made such a splash on their original release that they were brought back the next year. And then the year after that. And then the year after that. And then Mariah Carey got so big that I heard All I Want For Christmas Is You remixed into a club banger and I questioned why someone would ever do that and also why I was in a club on a Thursday night. You get the point; each of these Christmas narratives exceeded their original expectations and became part of the huge money-making scheme that is Christmas. But what makes these classics stand out from the crowd? Well, it’s a little thing called nostalgia.
Nostalgia culture is one of the biggest forces in popular culture, and Christmas thrives off of it. A successful Christmas classic does one thing very well; it invokes that warm, fuzzy, child-like feeling of Christmas Day. Everyone remembers how the felt unwrapping all those presents and seeing what shiny new things they wanted so bad, and Christmas lives off of that power. Love, Actually and All I Want For Christmas Is You capture that feeling of being together with family and loved ones. Home Alone is that feeling of child-like wonder, beating the bad guys and saving Christmas all alone. They all make you feel warm and fuzzy afterwards and make you remember Christmas’ past. There are a couple of new additions to the holiday canon as well. Ariana Grande with Santa Tell Me seems to be having a good run, feeding off the same Mariah Carey vibes, as well as A Christmas Prince on Netflix (which apparently got a sequel so it’s doing something right), which is a princess story and a Christmas story all wrapped into one. I’ll hesitantly say Elf is also a Christmas classic because it was one of my favourite Christmas movies growing up and it has that reverse child-like wonder of seeing the world.
In saying this, let’s look at the reverse. Christmas-themed things come out every year trying to make something stick. A really great example of this from this year was the RuPaul’s Drag Race Holy-slay Spectacular. Drag Race already feeds off of its own nostalgia, with fans becoming very invested in the queens and everything they do, so it seems like it would be a good idea. And, to an extent, it was. Viewers got to see fan favourite (LA-based) queens like Kim Chi, Trixie Mattel and Latrice Royale, as well as some of the older queens like Sonique and new favourites like Mayhem Miller. However, the nostalgia element got lost in favour of advertising RuPaul’s new Christmas album, making the special an hour-long musical/lip sync extravaganza and not the cut-throat competition fans love to watch. The end result was something that felt a little half-baked, and it didn’t utilise the nostalgic elements of the fan favourite queens well enough to really stick out in the over-saturated holiday market.
Finally, there is something to be said for personal nostalgia. We all celebrate Christmas in our own ways, with our own little rituals and artefacts from Christmas’ past. For me personally, I always listen to All I Want For Christmas Is You by Park Bom and Lee Hi. For three years of my life, I was fully immersed in k-pop culture, and this song takes me back there for a little bit. It’s my own little bit of nostalgia, and I treasure it. Another really famous one is the Die Hard franchise. The movie, I feel, has a personality disorder. It is both a hardcore action movie and a Christmas movie, because it is Christmas-themed (in that it’s the time of year) and it’s a recurring movie for the time of year for a lot of people, but other than the date there is nothing that ties it to Christmas. Every year, though, people come from all across the internet to debate whether or not this fast-paced action thriller belongs in the echelons of Christmas movies, sitting up there alongside Home Alone, Love Actually and (hopefully) Elf. In doing so, they create their own bit of nostalgia culture and, while the movie can be enjoyed at any time of the year, I think doing so on Christmas is an appropriate way to celebrate the holiday.
In all, Christmas is about the nostalgia culture. Successful additions to the holiday canon draw that feeling of child-like wonder and being close to loved ones and spin it into a magical story or song that you can’t help but enjoy because it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, connecting you back to the memories you’ve made over the years. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes a Christmas classic. I hope all our readers had a Merry Christmas and enjoyed their holidays.