7.7/10
103
3 user

Christmas Unwrapped: The History of Christmas (1997)

The history of Christmas and the traditions that make the holidays the most wonderful time of the year.

Writer:

Alison Guss
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

When you're the city attorney you don't need the kinds of problems that her father was giving her. After her mother died, her father began doing his "Santa Schick," as she called it, much ... See full summary »

Director: Tom McLoughlin
Stars: Shelley Long, Barry Bostwick, Nathan Lawrence
12 Dates of Christmas (TV Movie 2011)
Comedy | Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A story that follows Kate, a young woman who after a horrible blind date on Christmas Eve, wakes up to find she is re-living that same day and date all over again.

Director: James Hayman
Stars: Laura Miyata, Vijay Mehta, Amy Smart
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

The American Saint Nick tells the true story of a handful of GI's who brought Christmas back to a freshly liberated small Luxembourg town caught up in WWII.

Director: Tim Gray
November Christmas (TV Movie 2010)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A brave young girl is battling cancer, which has an effect on the people around her.

Director: Robert Harmon
Stars: Sam Elliott, John Corbett, Sarah Paulson
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

During an adventure spanning two years and two countries, two mega-fans of "A Christmas Story" set out to discover all the film's shooting locations. Along the way they uncover forgotten ... See full summary »

Director: Tyler Schwartz
Stars: Yano Anaya, Ian Campbell, Gord Chase
The Christmas Ornament (TV Movie 2013)
Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A widow plans to give Christmas festivities a miss, as they bring back too many memories of her late husband.

Director: Mark Jean
Stars: Kellie Martin, Cameron Mathison, Jewel Staite
Journey Back to Christmas (TV Movie 2016)
Drama | Romance | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A WWII era nurse is transported in time to 2016 and meets a man who helps her discover the bonds of family and that the true meaning of Christmas is timeless.

Director: Mel Damski
Stars: Candace Cameron Bure, Oliver Hudson, Brooke Nevin
Karroll's Christmas (TV Movie 2004)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Allen Karroll hates Christmas ever since his ex-girlfriend humiliated him in front of thousands of people one Christmas. As a man who writes greeting cards for a living, this proves to be a... See full summary »

Director: Dennis Dugan
Stars: Tom Everett Scott, Wallace Shawn, Verne Troyer
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Granting her final request, a Hollywood press agent brings the dead body of an actress, who died after making her first and only film, back to her hometown for burial. To arouse public ... See full summary »

Director: Irving Pichel
Stars: Fred MacMurray, Alida Valli, Frank Sinatra
The Carpenters at Christmas (TV Special 1977)
Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Director: Bob Henry
Stars: Richard Carpenter, Karen Carpenter, Kristy McNichol
Edit

Cast

Cast overview:
Harry Smith ... Himself - Narrator (voice)
Forrest Church Forrest Church ... Himself - Minister, All Souls Church (as Rev. Forrest Church)
A.W. Purdue A.W. Purdue ... Himself - Historian, Open University, England
Elaine Pagels Elaine Pagels ... Herself - Religion Department, Princeton University
Stephen Nissenbaum Stephen Nissenbaum ... Himself - Historian, University of Massachusetts
Penne L. Restad Penne L. Restad ... Herself - Historian, University of Texas
Leigh Eric Schmidt Leigh Eric Schmidt ... Himself - Religion Department, Princeton
Alan Dundes Alan Dundes ... Himself - Folklore Department, UC Berkeley)
Jean Shepherd Jean Shepherd ... Himself - Humorist
James Stewart ... George Bailey (archive footage)
Donna Reed ... Mary Bailey (archive footage)
Edit

Storyline

The history of Christmas and the traditions that make the holidays the most wonderful time of the year.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

December 1997 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

History Channel See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Goofs

The producers mistakenly identify the production of "A Christmas Carol" excerpted as having been made in 1958, when in fact it is a 1949 production. See more »

Quotes

Jean Shepherd: [last lines, referring to Christmas] Now you can be cynical all you want, but you still enjoy it.
See more »

Connections

Features Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1948) See more »

Soundtracks

The Christmas Song
Music by Mel Tormé
Lyrics by Robert Wells
Sung by Bing Crosby
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Exceptional Documentary
15 January 2004 | by harry-76See all my reviews

For those who appreciate researching topics for their historical value according to facts, this documentary on the history of Christmas is rich in its content.

It traces what's now known as Christmas from a "B.C. season" of pagan holiday ritual to its adaptation for the current annual celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Its early origins of secular festivals of bawdy carousings are clearly brought out. Long before the first century European cultures sought to take breaks in midwinter before the (Gregorian) calendar new year began. After working hard it was a relief to join in carnival activities of drink, dance and sensuality. Rich and poor were depicted here as reversing roles for this period, and it all seems more like a mardi gras, full of frolic and games.

As centuries came to pass and new religion(s) came into being, the church sought to downplay the festival atmosphere. It became a case of if it couldn't "beat them" (have street and tavern shenanigans abolished) then it would "join them." This resulted in more dignified activities, and later it was decided to incorporate into the period the birth of Jesus.

This outstanding documentary shown on the History Channel this [2003-04] season was actually made six years earlier. Harry Smith is the narrator, and both clergy and nonclergy serve as commentators.

Interesting is the strong effect of Clement Moore's poem ("A Night Before Christmas") and Charles Dickens' short story ("A Christmas Carol") in helping to define what's now known as Christmas. It also considers the evolution of extra-church rituals of the evergreen; poinsettia; the round, plump elf known as St. Nicolas; and commercial aspects surrounding the season.

The documentary is straight forward and objective, clearly presenting the historical development of this now worldwide phenomenon. Even though historians believe scriptural descriptions tend to suggest a calendar season in which Jesus was probably not born, the spirit of the celebration remains. Its calendar placement appears rooted upon ancient rituals honoring the winter solstice.

Pragmatically, the narrator states that there's something so pleasant about receiving a package beautifully wrapped and address to us--and the anticipation of opening that surprise, to reveal something we wanted--that's like no other experience.

Likewise, the joy experienced by our children plays a large part in strong adult participation in and embracing of these traditions. (Some folks seem to love it so much that holiday decorations go up the day after Thanksgiving and remain way past the New Year.)

Regardless of its mythological natures, Christmas is something probably 98% of the world's people are bound to experience in some form. Even the most cynical can't deny the beauty of colored lights, ornaments, delightful decorations and music as a pleasant and rewarding break from the normal work routine in midwinter. It's something that seems to uniquely tie us to our "B.C. ancestors" and reaffirm that what goes around eventually does come around.


6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 3 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed