As part of our Christmas countdown here at Matinée, we decided to put together a quiz and test your knowledge on our favourite festive films. We don’t want to give too much away so feel free to jump right ahead and check out the quiz here. But an interesting topic cropped up amongst the team as we were choosing our questions – something we feel deserves a blog post of its own.
As we drew up our list of favourite Christmas flicks, it hit home how much Christmas has changed over the years – not just in the UK but overseas and in other cultures too. We’re all about crossing cultures at Matinée and the variety of Christmas customs across the world is something we’re very interested in. Which got us thinking about how our own representation of Christmas has affected the way other cultures view and even celebrate it themselves.
How Christmas has changed at home
While Christmas stems back to pagan origins, the holidays as we know them are widely regarded as a Christian event to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. However, you’ll notice none of the films in our quiz have any focus on the religious background of Christmas at all.
The ‘Christmas spirit’ eventually rings true in all of them, but the gift of giving, quality time with the family and spreading the joy of Christmas have long replaced the manger in a stable. While decorated trees and a jolly fella dressed in red and white have become the symbols of Christmas in the UK, the States and other nations with holiday tradition.
Festive films, the world is watching
This is the kind of Christmas the world sees as our favourite seasonal movies, songs and values reach further afield. That said, you don’t have to go far to see the impact our Christmas customs have had. Even in Spain, Christmas is traditionally very different to the UK – with much less of a commercial element and a number of holidays between December 25th and January 6th.
Things have changed over the last few decades though and Santa is now a prominent feature in Spain – with a growing emphasis on Christmas shopping, gifts and commercial holidays. While in Japan, where only 1% of the population is considered Christian, Santa still makes an appearance during a time when people are encouraged to spread happiness and exchange gifts or cards.
Christmas, now globally accessible
While Christmas remains a religious holiday for a huge number of people, the extreme shift in how we represent it in our own media has made it more accessible around the world. For example, Muslim and Hindu cultures may have little reason to acknowledge a ‘Christian’ holiday, but Christmas trees and Santa suits seem to have a place in big cities around the world – including India and Indonesia.
But then Christmas simply isn’t a question of faith for a number people. The holiday season is a non-religious time for many in the UK and it’s more important to focus on the family, good will and spreading that festive joy. This is the kind of Christmas you see in the films that made it onto our quiz – and the same thing people around the world get to see as those familiar movies cross borders.
Which probably explains why the whole Matinée team agrees, Christmas films have helped to make the holiday season more accessible to different cultures around the world. What we can’t seem to agree on is whether this is a good thing or not – does it affect cultures of all kinds, and is it making Christmas an increasingly commercial event?