Tag Archives: noel

Noel Coward’s Star Quality to Light Up Academy Gallery

Posted by: Audiegrl

Noel Coward by Edward Sorel

Noel Coward by Edward Sorel

Star Quality: I don’t know what it is, but I’ve got it,” said Noel Coward in his inimitable style, cigarette in hand and a twinkle in his eye. The life and career of playwright, composer, director and actor Noel Coward will be celebrated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in a new touring exhibition, “Star Quality: The World of Noel Coward,” opening on Saturday, January 23, in the Academy’s Fourth Floor Gallery in Beverly Hills. Admission is free.

Coward is well known as the creator of such stage classics as Hay Fever, Private Lives, Cavalcade, Design for Living and Blithe Spirit, many of which were adapted for film, and as the composer of such timeless songs as “I’ll See You Again,” “Mad About the Boy” and “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.” “Star Quality” will be the first exhibition to show the full extent of Coward’s talents as a director of plays and movies, a stage and film actor, songwriter, cabaret artist, wartime patriot, painter and patron of charitable causes.

Noel Coward and stage partner Gertrude Lawrence 1936

Noel Coward and stage partner Gertrude Lawrence 1936

With unparalleled access to the Coward Archives, and drawing on public and private collections in Europe and the U.S. as well as the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library, the exhibition brings together dozens of rare photographs, drawings, paintings, original manuscripts, letters, sheet music, posters, playbills, set and costume designs, personal memorabilia, audio and video clips, and original costumes, including several of the silk dressing gowns that became Coward’s trademark. Coward’s friendships with many of the 20th century’s leading artists and film personalities also are documented throughout the exhibition, as are his contributions to the film world through his on-screen appearances and the numerous film adaptations of his stage work.

Noel Coward and Judy Garland 1951

Noel Coward and Judy Garland 1951

Star Quality: The World of Noel Coward,” is presented in association with the Noël Coward Foundation and the Museum of Performance & Design in San Francisco. The Academy’s installation has been guest curated by Brad Rosenstein and Rosy Runciman; the original exhibition was conceived and developed at Ten Chimneys by Erika Kent. Rosenstein will lead a public gallery talk at the Academy on Saturday, January 23, at 3 p.m. No reservations are required.

Star Quality: The World of Noel Coward” will be on display through Sunday, April 18. The Academy’s Fourth Floor Gallery is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills and is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekends, noon to 6 p.m. For more information call (310) 247-3600 or visit http://www.oscars.org.

Stephen Fry, Michael York and Pat York attend the opening of the exhibition Star Quality: The World of Noel Coward presented by The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences at the Academys Fourth Floor Gallery in Beverly Hills on Friday, January 22, 2010

Stephen Fry, Michael York and Pat York attend the opening of the exhibition Star Quality: The World of Noel Coward presented by The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences at the Academys Fourth Floor Gallery in Beverly Hills on Friday, January 22, 2010

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44-D’s Famous and Not-So Famous Christmas Movies List



A holiday tradition for my family has always been watching classic Christmas movies. It just isn’t the holidays until snow is falling outside and an Xmas film is on the television.

With that in mind, you’ll find many famous Christmas movies in the page below. Some of them are famous classics, but there a quite a few you might not know about. Check them out and maybe you’ll find a new film to add to your family’s Christmas movie favorites list.~AudieGrl Note: The films below are listed in chronological order.

The Classics 1935-1979


Scrooge (1935)

ScroogeScrooge, the ultimate Victorian miser, hasn’t a good word for Christmas, though his impoverished clerk Cratchit and nephew Fred are full of holiday spirit. But in the night, Scrooge is visited by spirits of another color. This was the second time Seymour Hicks had portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge on film. The first was in Scrooge (1913) which was released in 1913, 22 years earlier.

Quote
Fred: I believe it has done me good and will do me good, and I say God bless it!
Bob Cratchit: Hear hear! Hear hear!
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Holiday Inn (1942)

Holiday InnJim Hardy and Ted Hanover have been vaudeville partners for many years but when Ted announces that he and Jim’s girlfriend, dancer Lila Dixon, are going to set off on their own, Jim decides the time has come to retire. He buys himself a farmhouse in New England and settles into the country life but soon realizes that he has an opportunity to do something special. He decides to open his inn to the public, but only on major holidays. Things are going well for him until his old partner Ted shows up and sets his sights on Jim’s new friend, Linda Mason. The film introduced the song White Christmas.

Quote
Ted Hanover: Then I had a drink.
Jim Hardy: A drink? Boy you were fractured!
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Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Meet Me In St. LouisSt. Louis 1903. The well-off Smith family has four beautiful daughters, including Esther and little Tootie. 17-year old Esther has fallen in love with the boy next door who has just moved in, John. He however, barely notices her at first. The family is shocked when Mr. Smith reveals that he has been transferred to a nice position in New York, which means that the family has to leave St. Louis and the St. Louis Fair.

Quote
‘Tootie’ Smith: And I’m taking all my dolls, even the dead ones. I’m taking everything.
Esther Smith: Of course you are. I’ll help you pack them myself. You won’t have to leave anything behind. Except your snow people, of course. We’d look pretty silly trying to get them on the train, wouldn’t we?
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Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Christmas In ConnecticutJournalist Elizabeth Lane is one of the country’s most famous food writers. In her columns, she describes herself as a hard working farm woman, taking care of her children and being an excellent cook. But this is all lies. In reality she is an unmarried New Yorker who can’t even boil an egg. The recipes come from her good friend Felix. The owner of the magazine she works for has decided that a heroic sailor will spend his Christmas on her farm. Miss Lane knows that her career is over if the truth comes out, but what can she do?

Quote
Elizabeth Lane: John, when you’re kissing me, don’t talk about plumbing.
John Sloan: What? Oh, I’m sorry, what should I talk about?
Elizabeth Lane: Well, do you have to talk?
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It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Its A Wonderful LifeGeorge Bailey spends his entire life giving up his big dreams for the good of his town, Bedford Falls, as we see in flashback. But in the present, on Christmas Eve, he is broken and suicidal over the misplacing of an $8000 loan and the machinations of the evil millionaire, Mr. Potter. His guardian angel, Clarence, falls to Earth, literally, and shows him how his town, family, and friends would turn out if he had never been born. George meant so much to so many people; should he really throw it all away?

Quote
George Bailey: Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!
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Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Miracle on 34th StreetDoris Walker a no-nonsense Macy’s executive, desperately searches for a new store Santa. She hires Kris Kringle who insists that he’s the real Santa Claus. But, he has many skeptics like Doris and her six year old daughter, Susan. So Kris goes to court to try and prove it. Is he the real Santa Claus? What ensues is a bizarre hearing in which people’s beliefs are reexamined and put to the test, but even so, it’s going to take a miracle for Kris to win.

Quote
Kris Kringle: Now wait a minute, Susie. Just because every child can’t get his wish that doesn’t mean there isn’t a Santa Claus.
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The Bishop’s Wife (1948)

The Bishop's WifeAn Episcopal Bishop, Henry Brougham, has been working for months on the plans for an elaborate new cathedral which he hopes will be paid for primarily by a wealthy, stubborn widow. He is losing sight of his family and of why he became a churchman in the first place. Enter Dudley, an angel sent to help him. Dudley does help everyone he meets, but not necessarily in the way they would have preferred. With the exception of Henry, everyone loves him, but Henry begins to believe that Dudley is there to replace him, both at work and in his family’s affections, as Christmas approaches.

Quote
Prof. Wutheridge: God bless you!
Dudley: Thank you! I’ll pass that recommendation along.
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A Christmas Carol (1951)

A Christmas Carol 1951Stingy old Ebenezer Scrooge is known as the meanest man in London. He overworks and underpays his humble clerk, Bob Cratchit, whose little son, Tiny Tim, is crippled and may soon die. He also has nothing to do with his nephew, Fred, because his birth cost the life of his beloved sister. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge has a haunting nightmare. He is visited by three ghosts and is given one last chance to change his ways and save himself from the grim fate that befell his business partner, Jacob Marley.

Quote
Ebenezer Scrooge: [after Cratchit claps following Fred’s speech to Scrooge] “Another sound from you… and you’ll keep your Christmas by losing your situation.”
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White Christmas (1954)

White ChristmasAfter leaving the Army after W.W.II, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis team up to become a top song-and-dance act. Davis plays matchmaker and introduces Wallace to a pair of beautiful sisters (Betty and Judy) who also have a song-and-dance act. When Betty and Judy travel to a Vermont lodge to perform a Christmas show, Wallace and Davis follow, only to find their former commander, General Waverly, is the lodge owner. A series of romantic mix-ups ensue as the performers try to help the General.

Quote
Gen. Thomas F. Waverly: “There’s no Christmas in the Army!
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Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer (1964)

Rudplph the Red Nosed ReindeerSam the snowman tells us the story of a young red-nosed reindeer who, after being ousted from the reindeer games because of his beaming honker, teams up with Hermey, an elf who wants to be a dentist, and Yukon Cornelius, the prospector. They run into the Abominable Snowman and find a whole island of misfit toys. Rudoph vows to see if he can get Santa to help the toys, and he goes back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. But Santa’s sleigh is fogged in. But when Santa looks over Rudolph, he gets a very bright idea…

Quote
Mrs. Donner: We’ll simply have to overlook it.
Donner: How can you overlook that? His beak blinks like a blinking beacon.
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A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

A Charlie Brown ChristmasWhen Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism that he sees amongst everyone during the Christmas season, Lucy suggests that he become director of the school Christmas pageant. Charlie Brown accepts, but it proves to be a frustrating struggle. When an attempt to restore the proper spirit with a forlorn little fir Christmas tree fails, he needs Linus’ help to learn what the real meaning of Christmas is.

Quote
Lucy Van Pelt: Look, Charlie, let’s face it. We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big eastern syndicate, you know.
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How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

How the Grinch Stole ChristmasBitter and hateful, the Grinch is irritated at the thought of the nearby village having a happy time celebrating Christmas. So disguised as Santa Claus, with his dog made to look like a reindeer, he raids the village to steal all the Christmas things. The village is sure to have a sad Christmas this year. How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a must see film for the Christmas season. It’s always a joy to watch each year and brings back happy memories of watching it with your family.

Quote
Lou Lou Who: I’m glad he took our presents. You can’t hurt Christmas, Mr. Mayor, beacuse it isn’t about the… the gifts or the contest or the fancy lights. That’s what Cindy’s been trying to tell everyone… and me. I don’t need anything more for Christmas than this right here: my family.
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Frosty the Snowman (1969)

Frosty The SnowmanA discarded silk tophat becomes the focus of a struggle between a washed-up stage magician and a group of schoolchildren after it magically brings a snowman to life. Realizing that newly-living Frosty will melt in spring unless he takes refuge in a colder climate, Frosty and a young girl who he befriends stow away on a freight train headed for the north pole. Little do they know that the magician is following them, and he wants his hat back. This animated short is based on the popular Christmas song of the same name.

Quote
Santa Claus: Don’t cry, Karen, Frosty’s not gone for good. You see, he was made out of Christmas snow and Christmas snow can never disappear completely. It sometimes goes away for almost a year at a time and takes the form of spring and summer rain. But you can bet your boots that when a good, jolly December wind kisses it, it will turn into Christmas snow all over again.
Karen: Yes, but… He was my friend.
Santa Claus: Just watch.
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Scrooge (1970)

Scrooge This is a delightful musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol. Cold-souled Ebenezer Scrooge has a change of heart after spirit visitations on Christmas Eve. Folks might not have had much to sing about in England in 1860, but this musical will make you believe otherwise. Kenneth More’s musical number as the Ghost of Christmas Present is especially entertaining.

Quote
Gen. Thomas F. Waverly: “There’s no Christmas in the Army!
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Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1970)

Santa Claus Is Coming To TownThe Mailman decides to answer some of the most common questions about Santa Claus, and tells us about a small baby named Kris who was left on the doorstep of the Kringle family (toymakers). When Kris grew up, he wanted to deliver toys to the children of Sombertown. But its Burgermeister (Herr Meisterburger) is too mean to let that happen. And to make things worse, there’s an evil wizard named Winter who lives between the Kringles and Sombertown, but Kris manages to melt Winter’s heart (as well as the comely schoolteacher’s) and deliver his toys.

Quote
Kris Kringle: You better watch out. You better not cry, you better not pout.
Children: Why?
Kris Kringle: I’m telling you why. Because I came to town.
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The Year Without A Santa Claus (1974)

The Year Without A Santa ClausMrs. Claus tells us about the time Santa had a bad cold and decided to take a vacation from Christmas. Two of his elves, Jingle Bells and Jangle Bells decided to go out (with Vixen) to find children to convince Santa that the Christmas spirit is still important to everybody else. But they have to get past Heat Miser and Snow Miser, first, before they land in Southtown, USA, where it never snows for Christmas. But the Miser Brothers can’t agree to let it snow in Southtown. But Mrs. Santa knows their mom–Mother Nature.

Quote
Heat Miser: Well, well, Mrs. Claus. How’s your husband doing? Out doing another commercial for my brother?
Mrs. Santa: Oh come now. You know he’s not on your brother’s payroll.
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Contemporary Classics 1980-1999

A Christmas Story (1983)

A Christmas StoryIt’s Christmas time and there’s only one thing on Ralphie Parker’s Christmas list this year: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot, Range Model Air Rifle, but many obstacles stand in the way of his dream because every adult that he confronts keeps telling him he’ll shoot his eye out. Christmas is drawing nearer and Ralphie visits Santa at the department store in hopes of asking him for his dream gift. Will he receive it? Let’s hope so.

Quote
Ralphie: I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!
Mrs. Parker: No, you’ll shoot your eye out.
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Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

Mickey's Christmas CarolExamples set by Bob Cratchit help Ebeneezer Scrooge to embrace the true Christmas spirit in this trailer for the Disney classic movie Mickey’s Christmas Carol. An animated short film featuring the various Walt Disney characters (including characters from Wind in the Willows, Robin Hood and The Three Little Pigs), with Scrooge McDuck fittingly playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge.

Quote
Scrooge: My partner, Jacob Marley, dead seven years today. Oh, he was a good’n. He robbed from the widows and swindled the poor. In his will, he left me enough money to pay for his tombstone, and I have him buried at sea!
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A Christmas Carol (1984)

A Christmas CarolMade for television version of the Charles Dickens classic of the same name. An old man, played by George C. Scott, who hates Christmas is taught the true meaning and spirit of Christmas by ghosts who show him his own past and present. He is also shown what the future holds for him if he doesn’t change his behavior. They show him what he has lost and what he will leave behind after he is gone unless he mends his ways.

Quote
Ebenezer Scrooge: These are garments, Mr. Cratchit. Garments were invented by the human race as a protection against the cold. Once purchased, they may be used indefinitely for the purpose for which they are intended. Coal burns. Coal is momentary and coal is costly. There will be no more coal burned in this office today, is that quite clear, Mr. Cratchit?
Bob Cratchit: Yes, Sir.
Ebenezer Scrooge: Now please get back to work before I am forced to conclude that your services here are no longer required.
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One Magic Christmas (1985)

Gideon, a Christmas angel, is sent, by Santa, to help Ginny Grainger. Ginny is a cynic, and she hates Christmas. She and her family (husband, Jack and two kids, Caleb and Abbie) have fallen on hard times, making it even harder to believe in anything that can’t be seen. With help from Abbie, and a trip to see Santa Claus himself, can Gideon find a way to make Ginny believe again?
Quote
Abbie Grainger: My brother’s never going to believe this.
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Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)

Santa Claus: The MovieThe first half of this film, set hundreds of years ago, shows how the old man who eventually became Santa Claus was given immortality and chosen to deliver toys to all the children of the world. The second half moves into the modern era, in which Patch, the head elf, strikes out on his own and falls in with an evil toy manufacturer who wants to corner the market and eliminate Santa Claus.

Quote
Santa Claus: How can I do so much in just one night?
Ancient Elf: Oh, yeah, well know this: time travels with you. The night of the world is a passage of endless night for you, until your mission is done.
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Scrooged (1988)

ScroogedFrank Cross runs a US TV station which is planning a live adaptation of Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Frank’s childhood wasn’t a particularly pleasant one, and so he doesn’t really appreciate the Christmas spirit. With the help of the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, Frank realizes he must change. The movie’s tag line is: Bill Murray is back among the ghosts. Only this time, it’s three against one.

Quote
Frank Cross: Do you think I’m way off-base here?
Elliot: Yes. You’re, well, you’re a tad off-base, sir. That thing looked like The Manson Family Christmas Special.
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Die Hard (1988)

New York cop John McClane flies to Los Angeles on Christmas eve to spend the holidays with his family. He arrives at the Nakatomi corp. building for his wife’s office party. International terrorists take over the building and hold every one as hostage to steel $600 million of bonds from the vaults of the building. Now its up to McCLane to face the terrorists and save his wife and the other hostages.

Quotes
John McClane: You throw quite a party. I didn’t realize they celebrated Christmas in Japan.
Joseph Takagi: Hey, we’re flexible. Pearl Harbor didn’t work out so we got you with tape decks.
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Prancer (1989)

Jessica, the daughter of an impoverished apple farmer, still believes in Santa Claus. So when she comes across a reindeer with an injured leg, it makes perfect sense to her to assume that it is Prancer, who had fallen from a Christmas display in town. She hides the reindeer in her barn and feeds it cookies, until she can return it to Santa. Her father finds the reindeer an decides to sell it to the butcher, not for venison chops, but as an advertising display.

Revealing mistakes
The scene is set in a snowy, cold town in the late fall/early winter. Yet breath from the cold can never be seen emerging from the characters.
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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

National Lampoon's Christmas VacationIt’s Christmas time – Clark decided to invite all the family to have ‘the most fun-filled old-fashioned family Christmas‘, which nobody shall ever forget. When the first relatives arrive, Clark soon flees on the roof to rig the lighting. The one thing the loving father wants to surprise the whole family with is the installation of a pool, which he already ordered. Unfortunately, the bonus check Clark expects any minute is overdue – and tempers rise, but not only because of the check. A big event is the arrival of uninvited cousin Eddie with his family in their mobile home, as well as a little sledding afternoon with a new lubricant from Clark’s company, or his shifting relationship with the very hip and clean neighbors. Cousin Eddie chooses to top off all presents with his very own special creation, only intending to deliver a real reason to be jolly.

Quote
Clark: Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?
Eddie: Naw, I’m doing just fine, Clark.
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Home Alone (1990)

In this film, Kevin McAllister is an eight year old boy left at home by his parents, when they leave with the rest of the family for Christmas holidays to Paris. At first he seems to enjoy living alone, but after a while he understands that things aren’t so easy. Especially when two robbers decide to break in a particular house. HIS house! Is he able to defend his home?
Quotes
Kate McCallister: [to the Scranton Ticket Agent] This is *Christmas*. The season of perpetual hope. And I don’t care if I have to get out on your runway and hitchhike. If it costs me everything I own, if I have to sell my soul to the devil himself, I am going to get home to my son.
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All I Want for Christmas (1991)

All I Want for Christmas 1991In this family-friendly holiday film, all Ethan and Hallie want for Christmas is for their parents to get back together. Catherine and Michael have been divorced for a year and now Catherine’s dating a guy no one can stand, including her mother Lillian. Michael, meanwhile, has opened a successful diner, but he misses Catherine. When Hallie overhears Catherine tell Lillian she and Tony are planning to marry, she and Ethan come up with a plan to strand their parents alone together on Christmas Eve. Hallie even asks Santa to help them out.

Quote
Hallie O’Fallon: Excuse me! Can I cut in? I won’t take long… I just have to fix this mistake I made.
Girl in Line: Have cuts for a dollar!
Hallie O’Fallon: Forget it. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah! Don’t forget to tell Santa what a creep you are!
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The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

The Muppet Christmas CarolA retelling of the classic Dickens tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, miser extraordinaire. He is held accountable for his dastardly ways during night-time visitations by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and future. Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and the entire cast of the Muppet universe come together to re-tell this immortal classic. This was also the first time the Muppets appeared on screen since Jim Henson’s death in 1990.

Quote
Ghost of Christmas Past: Let us see another Christmas at this place.
Ebenezer Scrooge: They were pretty much all the same. Nothing ever changed.
Ghost of Christmas Past: You changed.
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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Nightmare Before XmasJack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town, is bored with doing the same thing every year for Halloween. One day he stumbles into Christmas Town, and is so taken with the idea of Christmas that he tries to get the resident bats, ghouls, and goblins of Halloween town to help him put on Christmas instead of Halloween — but alas, they can’t get it quite right.

Quote
Jack Skellington: [singing] What’s this? What’s this? There’s color everywhere! What’s this? There’s white things in the air! What’s this? I can’t believe my eyes, I must be dreaming; wake up, Jack, this isn’t fair! What’s this?
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The Santa Clause (1994)

The Santa ClauseDivorcee Scott Calvin is disgusted to learn that his ex and her husband have tried – and failed – to break it easy to their 6-year-old son Charlie that Santa isn’t real. On Christmas Eve, Scott reads The Night Before Christmas… then receives an unexpected visitor on his roof. When he’s startled by Scott’s calling out and falls, the Santa impersonator disappears, leaving only an 8-reindeer sleigh and a suit with instructions to put it on if he’s involved in an accident. Scott does, and is transported around the town dropping gifts through chimneys until he’s taken to the North Pole and informed by a group who claim they’re elves that he is now Santa. Charlie is proud of his dad’s new job, though Scott’s convinced it’s a dream. Until his hair turns white, his beard refuses to stay shaved, he gains weight inexplicably, even for his sudden love of junk food…

Quote
Charlie: These are Santa’s reindeer, aren’t they?
Scott Calvin: I hope not. These are… A gift. Probably from the cable company. We’re getting the Disney Channel now. Merry Christmas.
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Jingle All the Way (1996)

When Howard misses his son’s karate practice, he makes peace by promising his son a Turbo Man doll for Christmas. What Howard doesn’t know is that every other child wants the doll as well. On the day of Christmas Eve, Howard must compete against a deranged postal worker (played by Sinbad), as well as con-artist Santas, the police, and almost every parent in town, to get his son the cherished toy. But while Howard is going insane trying to find the doll, his son is wondering where his father is, and his neighbor (Phil Hartman) is putting the moves on his wife. One of the only movies that feature ‘candy-cane numchucks’.

Quotes
Howard Langston: You guys are nothing but a bunch of sleazy conmen in red suits.
Mall Santa: What did you call us?
Howard Langston: You heard me right. Conmen. Thieves. Degenerates. Low-lifes. Thugs. Criminals!
Mall Santa: At the North Pole them are fighting words, Partner.
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The Preacher’s Wife (1996)

The Preachers WifeGood natured Reverend Henry Biggs finds that his marriage to choir mistress Julia is flagging, due to his constant absence caring for the deprived neighborhood they live in. On top of all this, his church is coming under threat from property developer Joe Hamilton. In desperation, Rev. Biggs prays to God for help – and help arrives in the form of an angel named Dudley. However, Dudley’s arrival seems to cause even more trouble…

Quote
Julia Biggs: It’s okay if I look in the window, just as long as I don’t buy.
Marguerite Coleman: Yeah? Well, don’t go shopping with money in your pocket! And you better not be putting anything in the layaway plan, either!
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I’ll Be Home for Christmas (1998)

A college student experiences difficulty in getting home for Christmas after being hazed by his friends. While struggling to get home in time for Christmas, he learns quite a bit about himself and the true meaning of the holiday. The movies tag line is: Somewhere between L.A. and N.Y. Jake found the meaning of Christmas. The soundtrack includes some new and some classic Christmas songs.

Quote
Eddie: Hey jingle balls! Move your candycanes!
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Jack Frost (1998)

Jack Frost is a singer who’s on the road most of the time so he can’t spend a lot of time with his son Charlie, although they love each other very much. When Jack dies in a car accident, Charlie becomes a very sad young man, until… Jack returns as a snowman! Now they can do all the things they’ve missed when Jack was human, but what will people think when they see Charlie talking to a snowman and what will happen when the weather gets warmer?

Quotes
Jack: Three balls, two sticks, one corked nose. Snowman? No. Much, much more. I am the Wizard of Blizzard! Hahahahahaha! Now run you little mountain goats!
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A Christmas Carol (1999)

A Christmas Carol Scrooge is a miserly old businessman in 1840’s London. One Christmas Eve he is visited by the ghost of Marley, his dead business partner. Marley foretells that Scrooge will be visited by three spirits, each of whom will attempt to show Scrooge the error of his ways. Will Scrooge reform his ways in time to celebrate Christmas? Patrick Stewart’s performance is perfect, and stays faithful to the Dickens novel as written.

Quote
Bob Cratchit: I was wondering if you’d like Mr. Marley’s name removed from the sign outside.
Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge: No; time will erase it at no cost to us.
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New School Classics 2000-2009


The Grinch (2000)

Based on the book by the famous Dr. Seuss. Inside a snowflake exists the magical land of Whoville. In Whoville, live the Who’s, an almost mutated sort of munchkinlike people. All the Who’s love Christmas, yet just outside of their beloved Whoville lives the Grinch. The Grinch is a nasty creature that hates Christmas, and plots to steal it away from the Whos which he equally abhors. Yet a small child, Cindy Lou Who, decides to try befriend the Grinch.

Quotes
Cindy Lou Who: Santa, what’s the meaning of Christmas?
The Grinch: [bursts through the Christmas tree] “VENGEANCE!”
The Grinch: [calmly] I mean… presents, I suppose.
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The Family Man (2000)

On Christmas Eve, two days before he pulls off a multi-billion-dollar merger, Wall Street hot-shot Jack Campbell gets a phone message from a woman he almost married 13 years before. He also tells a gun-toting street tough that he has everything he needs. The punk laughs. Christmas morning, Jack wakes up next to his old girlfriend, in some sort of parallel universe, in a 12-year marriage. Over the next few weeks, he gets a glimpse of what his life would have been like if he’d married her: a house in Jersey, two children, bowling trophies, a job at his father-in-law’s tire store, and a lot of love from his wife Kate. When this Dickensian adventure ends, what will he do?

Quotes
Kate: How can you do that?
Jack: What?
Kate: Look at me like you haven’t seen me every day for the last 13 years.
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Call Me Claus (2001)

When Lucy Cullins, a successful but cranky producer at a home shopping network, hires an actor named Nick to play Santa Claus on the network she gets more than she bargained for. Nick really is Santa Claus, and he faces mandatory retirement after 200 years on the job. Nick must find his replacement by Christmas Eve or the world will face dire consequences and he has his sights set on Lucy.

Quotes
Ralph: Look, we’re burning daylight on the international dateline.
Lucy: Okay, right now you’re burning my last nerve.
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The Santa Clause 2 (2002)

Scott Calvin has been Santa Claus for the past eight years, and his loyal elves consider him the best Santa ever. But Santa’s got problems (he’s even mysteriously losing weight) and things quickly go south when he finds out that his son, Charlie, has landed on this year’s “naughty” list. Desperate to help his son, Scott heads back home, leaving a substitute Claus to watch over things at the Pole. But when the substitute institutes some strange redefinitions of naughty and nice, putting Christmas at risk, it’s up to Scott to return with a new bag of magic to try to save Christmas.

Quotes
Lucy: Uncle Scott, are you Santa Claus?
Scott Calvin: What makes you say that?
Lucy: Because you have a reindeer.
Scott Calvin: Lots of people have reindeer.
Lucy: Name five.
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The Christmas Shoes (2002)

Two separate stories mesh – in the first, a young music teacher, Maggie Andrews, begins dying of a heart condition and her son Nathan tries to get a pair of Christmas shoes for her before she dies. In the second, lawyer Robert Layton and his wife Kate are slowly drifting apart and the matter comes to a head during Christmas when Kate takes over for Maggie for the school choir and declines a job in Robert’s firm. When Robert’s mother passes away, he begins to reconsider things and his and Nathan’s paths cross on Christmas Eve as Nathan tries to raise the money for the shoes and Robert tries to get a present for his daughter.

Quotes
Maggie Andrews: Honey, what’s the matter?
Nathan Andrews: Your heart. I just wanted to see if it was still beating.
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Elf (2003)

Buddy was a baby in an orphanage who stowed away in Santa’s sack and ended up at the North Pole. Later, as an adult human who happened to be raised by elves, Santa allows him to go to New York City to find his birth father, Walter Hobbs. Hobbs, on Santa’s naughty list for being a heartless jerk, had no idea that Buddy was even born. Buddy, meanwhile, experiences the delights of New York City (and human culture) as only an elf can. When Walter’s relationship with Buddy interferes with his job, he is forced to reevaluate his priorities.

Quotes
Buddy: We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.
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Bad Santa (2003)

The story of two conmen who go on a road trip to malls dressed as Santa and his elf. Rather than spreading good cheer, the duo’s motive is to rob each establishment, a strategy that becomes complicated when they encounter an 8-year-old who teaches them the true meaning of Christmas. All so comes in a raunchier version in “Bad-er Santa” with the tag line “Get Naughty this Holiday Season.”

Quotes
Kid: “Your beard’s not real.”
Willie: “No Shit! It was real, but I got sick and all the hair fell out.”
Kid: “How come?”
Willie: “I loved a woman who wasn’t clean.”
Kid: “Mrs. Santa?”
Willie: “No it was her sister
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Surviving Christmas (2004)

Drew Latham is an executive leading an empty, shallow life with only wealth on his side. Facing another lonely Christmas ahead, Drew wants to revisit his old childhood home and possibly relive some old holiday memories. But when he arrives, he finds that the house he was raised in is no longer the home he grew up in. Inhabited by another family, Drew offers a nice financial reward that has the family ringing. But is Drew’s generous cash offer only the beginning of an annoying visitor whose a little too overeager to celebrate Christmas?

Quotes
Drew Latham: Please! Please, let me stay here!
Tom Valco: No!
Drew Latham: I’ll pay you.
Tom Valco: My family’s not for sale, pal.
Drew Latham: I’ll pay you $250,000!
Tom Valco: Welcome home, son.
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Noel (2004)

Christmas Eve in New York, and the lonely divorced publisher, Rose Collins, needs a miracle to improve the health of her mother, interned in a hospital with Alzheimers. She feels sorry for another patient and meets his visitor. Meanwhile, Nina Vasquez breaks her engagement with her beloved fiancé Mike due to his suffocating jealousy, but misses him. Mike is stalked by a stranger, bartender Artie Venzuela. The poor Jules arranges to spend Christmas Eve in the hospital, where he spent the best Christmas of his life when he was a teenager. The lives of some of these characters cross with others along the night.

Quotes
Rose: I like to think my life matters.
Charlie: Oh, your life matters, you’ve touched other people’s lives in ways you don’t even realize.
Rose: How do you know that?
Charlie: Cause you’ve touched my life.
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The Polar Express (2004)

Santa Claus does not exist. Or does he? For one doubting boy, an astonishing event occurs. Late on Christmas Eve night, he lies in bed hoping to hear the sound of reindeer bells from Santa’s sleigh. When to his surprise, a steam engine’s roar and whistle can be heard outside his window. The conductor invites him on board to take an extraordinary journey to the North Pole with many other pajama-clad children. There, he receives an extraordinary gift only those who still believe in Santa can experience.

Quotes
Santa Claus: This bell is a wonderful symbol of the spirit of Christmas – as am I. Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.
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Christmas With the Kranks (2004)

When Luther and Nora Kranks only daughter leaves and goes to another country they both decide to skip Christmas this year and spend it on a cruise. Now they must survive, facing their neighbors, a house decorations contest and carolers. But when their daughter calls on Christmas eve and says shes coming home for Christmas, the Kranks really get into the meaning of Holiday Rush when they have 12 hours to get Christmas set up for their daughter and her fiancée. Based on the novel Skipping Christmas by John Grisham.

Quotes
Nora Krank: Why would we want to get tans before the cruise? I thought the idea was to get them DURING the cruise.
Luther Krank: Look at us, we kind of look like uncooked chicken.
Daisy: You look like a corpse.
Daisy: [to Nora] And you could use some help too.
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The Family Stone (2005)

The Stones gather for Christmas. Dad’s a professor in a Connecticut town; mom has a secret; there’s a gay, deaf son and his lover; a pregnant daughter and her child; a daughter who’s judgmental and acerbic, like her mother; and a laid-back observant brother. Everett is the eldest, bringing his fiancée Meredith to meet the family and, probably, to ask for grandma’s ring to give her. She’s self centered, uptight, and talks too much. Instantly, almost all give her a hard time. She calls her sister to come and help. Meredith, her sister, the Stones, and the family stone conflate. What does Everett see in Meredith, and doesn’t she deserve someone to love her for who she is?

Quotes
Meredith Morton: What’s so great about you guys?
Sybil Stone: Uh, nothing… it’s just that we’re all that we’ve got.
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The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)

Santa’s got problems: it’s a few days before Christmas and production lags, Mrs. Claus is about to give birth and wants family time, and Jack Frost (tired of second billing) is on probation under Santa’s supervision. Santa tries to support his wife by bringing her parents to the North Pole (to preserve the secret of Santa, they must think it’s Canada). Santa also brings his ex, her husband, and their daughter Lucy. Inside the toy factory, Jack makes mischief and hatches a plan to become Santa. With Santa juggling that many snow globes, something is bound to go wrong. But if things get too difficult, Santa can always exercise his option to invoke the Escape Clause.

Quotes
Jack Frost: Would you like to be my elf?
Sylvia Newman: Huh?
Jack Frost: You heard me.
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The Holiday (2006)

Iris is in love with a man who is about to marry another woman. Across the globe, Amanda realizes the man she lives with has been unfaithful. Two women who have never met and live 6000 miles apart, find themselves in the exact same place. They meet online at a home exchange website and impulsively switch homes for the holiday. Iris moves into Amanda’s L.A. house in sunny California as Amanda arrives in the snow covered English countryside. Shortly after arriving at their destinations, both women find the last thing either wants or expects: a new romance. Amanda is charmed by Iris’ handsome brother Graham and Iris, with inspiration provided by legendary screenwriter Arthur, mends her heart when she meets film composer Miles.

Quotes
Amanda: You know Graham, I just broke up with someone and considering you just showed up and you’re insanely good-looking and probably won’t remember me anyway… I’m thinking we should have sex… If you want.
Graham: Is that a trick question?
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Deck the Halls (2006)

This holiday comedy is centered around two neighbors in a small New England town who go to war when one of them decides to decorate his house with a so many Christmas lights that they are visible from space. The neighborhood is turned upside down as the families try to discover the true meaning of Christmas. Starring Danny DeVito and Mathew Broderick. The movie’s tag line is “This Christmas when the lights go on . . . the gloves come off”.

Quotes
Tia Hall: I used to do a bit of modeling, mainly for college classes… that’s how I met Buddy.
Kelly Finch: Oh, was he a professor?
Tia Hall: No, he was the one they caught peeping in the windows.
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This Christmas (2007)

This year, Christmas with the Whitfields promises to be one they will never forget. All the siblings have come home for the first time in years and they’ve brought plenty of baggage with them. As the Christmas tree is trimmed and the lights are hung, secrets are revealed and family bonds are tested. As their lives converge, they join together and help each other discover the true meaning of family.

Quotes
Melanie Whitfield: You slept with Santa!
Kelli Whitfield: Well I didn’t know he was Santa at the time but… technically, I guess I did.
Melanie Whitfield: Ho! HO! HO!
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The Perfect Holiday (2007)

An updated take on the classic and beloved Christmas family film, The Perfect Holiday tells the story of Nancy, a divorced mother of three who is so busy raising her children that she’s forgotten to take care of herself as well. With Christmas fast approaching, she decides to take her kids to the mall to meet Santa Claus, not knowing that her youngest daughter Emily has sensed her mother’s sadness and is determined to use her time with Santa to make her mom happy again. Just a few days prior, Emily heard her mom say that all she wanted for Christmas was a compliment from a man, so that’s exactly what she tells Santa.

Quotes
Jamal: Hi, I’m Santa’s Number One Elf!
Brenda: More like numbers one through ten…
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Fred Claus (2007)

During childhood, Fred Claus suffered his younger brother Nick’s saintliness. Jump ahead: Fred is a fast-talking, genial but self-centered guy in Chicago looking for $50,000 to open an off-track-betting shop. When one scam goes awry, he calls Nick at the North Pole for a loan: Nick will give him the money only if Fred comes up to help a few days with the Christmas rush. After his girlfriend dumps him, Fred heads north. Santa’s facing an audit from an efficiency expert, and it’s not pleasant. Fred’s job is to review charts and determine who’s naughty and who’s nice. Is there any fraternal feeling left, can either learn from the other, and what about Santa getting fired?

Quotes
Clyde: You’re all fired, in the morning you’ll all be on a bus back to Elfistan!
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Christmas in Wonderland (2007)

It’s turning out to be a pretty rotten Christmas for the Saunders family. Having just moved to a new city from Los Angeles, they have no friends, no money and, with the exception of the bright-eyed Mary, no Christmas spirit. To make matters worse, their mother is stuck in L.A., stranded by airline overbookings. So, the Christmas shopping duties fall on Dad (Patrick Swayze) and the gloomy kids. Things start looking a bit more like Christmas when 12-year old Brian and 6-year old Mary find a satchel of money at the local mall and they launch a Yuletide shopping spree…

Factual errors
Leonard and Sheldon drive their motorcycle through the 2nd story window overlooking the tidal pool and land in the deep end. In reality, the window overlooks the shallow end of the pool where the water only comes up to your ankles. They would’ve landed on solid concrete.
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Four Christmases (2008)

Brad and Kate have been together three years, in love, having fun, doing all sorts of things together with no intention of marriage or children. Christmas morning, they’re on their way to Fiji, having told their two sets of divorced parents that they’re off to do charity work. Through a fluke, they have no choice but to visit each of their four idiosyncratic parents. As the day progresses, Brad and Kate remember growing up, each learns more about the other, and Kate realizes that her life may not be as good as it could be. Do they know each other well enough to weather the storms families bring?

Quotes
Brad: We just gotta get through these four Christmases as quickly and painlessly as possible.
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Nothing Like the Holidays (2008)

It’s Christmas and the far-flung members of the Rodriguez family are converging at their parents’ home in Chicago to celebrate the season and rejoice in their youngest brother’s safe return from combat overseas. But when old disputes resurface and new surprises arise, familial bonds are stretched to the limit and the Rodriguezes realize they’re going to have to pull together to make it through the holidays in one piece. Nothing Like the holidays is a hilarious and heartwarming look at a holiday one family will never forget.

Quotes
Edy Rodriguez: I just want to enjoy Christmas with my family, not that they make it so easy.
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Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009)

Miser Ebenezer Scrooge is awakened on Christmas Eve by spirits who reveal to him his own miserable existence, what opportunities he wasted in his youth, his current cruelties, and the dire fate that awaits him if he does not change his ways. Scrooge is faced with his own story of growing bitterness and meanness, and must decide what his own future will hold: death or redemption. Created by Disney Studios and starring Jim Carrey.

Quotes
Ebenezer Scrooge: If I could have my way, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled in his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart!
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Christmas Around the World


Christmas Around the WorldChristmas as we know it today is a Victorian invention of the 1860s. Probably the most celebrated holiday in the world, our modern Christmas is a product of hundreds of years of both secular and religious traditions from around the globe.

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Sweden

‘God Jul!’

St. Lucia by Carl Larsson 1908

St. Lucia by Carl Larsson 1908

Most people in Scandinavian countries honor St. Lucia (also known as St. Lucy) each year on December 13. The celebration of St. Lucia Day began in Sweden, but had spread to Denmark and Finland by the mid-19th century.

In these countries, the holiday is considered the beginning of the Christmas season and, as such, is sometimes referred to as “little Yule.” Traditionally, the oldest daughter in each family rises early and wakes each of her family members, dressed in a long, white gown with a red sash, and wearing a crown made of twigs with nine lighted candles. For the day, she is called “Lussi” or “Lussibruden (Lucy bride).” The family then eats breakfast in a room lighted with candles.

The giant Christmas goat in Gavle, Sweden, a centuries-old Scandanavian yule symbol.

The giant Christmas goat in Gavle, Sweden, a centuries-old Scandanavian yule symbol

Any shooting or fishing done on St. Lucia Day was done by torchlight, and people brightly illuminated their homes. At night, men, women, and children would carry torches in a parade. The night would end when everyone threw their torches onto a large pile of straw, creating a huge bonfire. In Finland today, one girl is chosen to serve as the national Lucia and she is honored in a parade in which she is surrounded by torchbearers.

Light is a main theme of St. Lucia Day, as her name, which is derived from the Latin word lux, means light. Her feast day is celebrated near the shortest day of the year, when the sun’s light again begins to strengthen. Lucia lived in Syracuse during the fourth century when persecution of Christians was common. Unfortunately, most of her story has been lost over the years. According to one common legend, Lucia lost her eyes while being tortured by a Diocletian for her Christian beliefs. Others say she may have plucked her own eyes out to protest the poor treatment of Christians. Lucia is the patron saint of the blind.

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Finland

‘Hyvää Joulua!’

1907 Christmas postcard

Families gather and listen to the national “Peace of Christmas” radio broadcast. Hours are spent in the kitchen cooking and baking special treats for the festive season. In Finland the Christmas tree is set up on Christmas Eve. The Christmas festivities are preceded by a visit to the famous steam baths.

Christmas gifts may be given out before or after the dinner. The children do not hang up stockings, but Santa Claus comes in person, often accompanied by as many as half a dozen Christmas elves to distribute the presents.

The celebration of St Lucia Day (13 December) was only introduced to Finland from Sweden in 1950 but has been widely adopted by Finnish families. Additionally, a national Lucia is chosen by public vote from a short list of ten teenage girls and December 13 marks her first official appearance, wearing a long white dress and a crown of lighted candles. Following this she pays visits to Christmas gatherings, hospitals and schools to spread her message of light, hope and charity.

The main dish of the dinner is boiled codfish served snowy white and fluffy, with allspice, boiled potatoes, and cream sauce. The dried cod has been soaked for a week in a lye solution, then in clear water to soften it to the right texture. Also on the menu is roast suckling pig or a roasted fresh ham, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. After dinner the children go to bed while the older people stay up to chat with visitors and drink coffee until about midnight.

Christmas Day services in the churches begin at six in the morning. It is a day for family visits and reunions. In some parts of the country the Star Boys tour the countryside singing Christmas songs. During all these days the people keep wishing each other a “Merry Yule.” It is also customary to visit the gravesites of departed family members.

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Norway

‘Gledelig Jul!’

Traditional Norway Christmas Meal

Traditional Norway Christmas Meal

Norway is the birthplace of the Yule log. The ancient Norse used the Yule log in their celebration of the return of the sun at winter solstice. “Yule” came from the Norse word hweol, meaning wheel. The Norse believed that the sun was a great wheel of fire that rolled towards and then away from the earth. Ever wonder why the family fireplace is such a central part of the typical Christmas scene? This tradition dates back to the Norse Yule log. It is probably also responsible for the popularity of log-shaped cheese, cakes, and desserts during the holidays.

Since ancient times Norwegians have celebrated midwinter with parties and feasts to mark the transition from the dark winter to the light of spring and summer. However, during the 10th century King Haakon decided that the pagan custom of celebrating Jul (Yule) would be moved to 25 December and would celebrate the birth of Jesus. Over the years this has gradually moved from being a pagan festival to being a Christian festival instead. However, many of the traditions have remained.

At 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve the church bells ‘ringe in Julen‘ (ring in Christmas) throughout the country. This is the real start to Christmas celebrations. Most people attend a church and after the service they return home to eat a bowl of porridge with butter, sugar and cinnamon. Before the family sit down to eat this, the tradition is to put out a bowl of porridge for the nisse (gnome)

After the meal the indoor tree is lit and Julenissen arrives with a sack full of gifts from Santa. Julenissen is usually depicted with a long white beard and red stocking cap, wearing knee breeches, hand knitted stockings, a Norwegian sweater and a homespun jacket. This is topped by a heavy fur coat. Once all the presents have been distributed and have been opened everyone sits down for coffee and cakes.

Christmas Day starts with a church service. This is followed by the Christmas Buffet which includes such food as pork, lamb, cold meats, lutefisk, herring, trout, salmon, cheese, fruit, cloudberry cream, flat bread and cakes. This is accompanied by beer and aquavit. The Christmas season finally comes to an end on 13 January when everyone takes down their decorations and trees until December.

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Germany

‘Froehliche Weihnachten!’

Decorating evergreen trees had always been a part of the German winter solstice tradition. The first “Christmas trees” explicitly decorated and named after the Christian holiday, appeared in Strasbourg, in Alsace in the beginning of the 17th century. After 1750, Christmas trees began showing up in other parts of Germany, and even more so after 1771, when Johann Wolfgang von Goethe visited Strasbourg and promptly included a Christmas tree is his novel, The Suffering of Young Werther. In the 1820s, the first German immigrants decorated Christmas trees in Pennsylvania. After Germany’s Prince Albert married Queen Victoria, he introduced the Christmas tree tradition to England. In 1848, the first American newspaper carried a picture of a Christmas tree and the custom spread to nearly every home in just a few years.

Children leave letters on their windowsills for Christkind, a winged figure dressed in white robes and a golden crown who distributes gifts. Sometimes the letters are decorated with glue and sprinkled with sugar to make them sparkle.

Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin, Germany

Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin, Germany

Germans make beautiful gingerbread houses and cookies. The German Christmas tree pastry, Christbaumgeback, is a white dough that can be molded into shapes and baked for tree decorations. In parts of Germany, people believe that the Christ Child sends a messenger in Christmas Eve. He appears as an angel in a white robe and crown, bearing gifts. The angel is called Christkind. There is also a Christmas Eve figure called Weihnachtsmann or Christmas Man, he looks like Santa Claus and also brings gifts.

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Mexico

‘Feliz Navidad!’

Las Posadas

Las Posadas

In 1828, the American minister to Mexico, Joel R. Poinsett, brought a red-and-green plant from Mexico to America. As its coloring seemed perfect for the new holiday, the plants, which were called poinsettias after Poinsett, began appearing in greenhouses as early as 1830. In 1870, New York stores began to sell them at Christmas. By 1900, they were a universal symbol of the holiday.

Beginning December 16th, “La Posadas” commemorates the events in the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Each night of the “Posada” a procession led by two children begins.

The children carry a small pine-decorated platform bearing replicas of Joseph and Mary riding a burro. Other members, all with lighted long slender candles, sing the “Litany of the Virgin” as they approach the door of the house assigned to the first “Posada.” Together they chant an old traditional song and awaken the residents of the house to ask for lodging for Mary. Those within the house threaten the company with beatings unless they move on. Again, the company pleads for lodging. When the owner of the house finally learns who his guests are, he jubilantly throws open the doors and bids them welcome. All kneel around the manger scene or “Nacimiento” and offer songs of welcome, Ave Marias and a prayer.

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England

‘Merry Christmas!’

The world's first Christmas card designed by John Calcott Horsley in 1843.

An Englishman named John Calcott Horsley helped to popularize the tradition of sending Christmas greeting cards when he began producing small cards featuring festive scenes and a pre-written holiday greeting in the late 1830s. Newly efficient post offices in England and the United States made the cards nearly overnight sensations. At about the same time, similar cards were being made by R.H. Pease, the first American card maker, in Albany, New York, and Louis Prang, a German who immigrated to America in 1850.

Celtic and Teutonic peoples had long considered mistletoe to have magic powers. It was said to have the ability to heal wounds and increase fertility. Celts hung mistletoe in their homes in order to bring themselves good luck and ward off evil spirits. During holidays in the Victorian era, the English would hang sprigs of mistletoe from ceilings and in doorways. If someone was found standing under the mistletoe, they would be kissed by someone else in the room, behavior not usually demonstrated in Victorian society.

Plum pudding is an English dish dating back to the Middle Ages. Suet, flour, sugar, raisins, nuts, and spices are tied loosely in cloth and boiled until the ingredients are “plum,” meaning they have enlarged enough to fill the cloth. It is then unwrapped, sliced like cake, and topped with cream.

Caroling also began in England. Wandering musicians would travel from town to town visiting castles and homes of the rich. In return for their performance, the musicians hoped to receive a hot meal or money.

Plum Pudding

In the United States and England, children hang stockings on their bedpost or near a fireplace on Christmas Eve, hoping that it will be filled with treats while they sleep. In Scandinavia, similar-minded children leave their shoes on the hearth. This tradition can be traced to legends about Saint Nicholas. One legend tells of three poor sisters who could not marry because they had no money for a dowry. To save them from being sold by their father, St. Nick left each of the three sisters gifts of gold coins. One went down the chimney and landed in a pair of shoes that had been left on the hearth. Another went into a window and into a pair of stockings left hanging by the fire to dry.

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France

‘Joyeux Noël!’

A lavish feast of truffle-scented roast turkey and delicious trimmings from the Burgundy countryside.

A lavish feast of truffle-scented roast turkey and delicious trimmings from the Burgundy countryside.

Christmas has been celebrated for nearly 1500 years in France. In France, Christmas is called Noel. This comes from the French phrase les bonnes nouvelles, which means “the good news” and refers to the gospel.

In southern France, some people burn a log in their homes from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Day. This stems from an ancient tradition in which farmers would use part of the log to ensure good luck for the next year’s harvest.

Whatever their behavior, hopeful French youngsters place slippers or shoes at the fireplace on Christmas Eve. That evening’s special supper called the réveillon features delicacies native to the region, including spun sugar, pâés and pastries. Spun sugar delicacies called sotelties are made to depict miniature castles, Biblical scenes, or exotic birds. Another highlight is bûche de Noël a log shaped cake with chocolate butter cream filling, brown icing and lines that resemble bark. At the stroke of midnight, the sounds of “Oh Holy Night” resound through churches and cathedrals across France.

Christmas market in Strasbourg

Christmas market in Strasbourg

Children alone receive presents on December 25th. Adults wait until New Year’s Day to exchange gifts. Some small presents can be found among the branches of the French Christmas tree.

The santons or little saints made in Provence are the heart of French Noël. These simple manger figures resemble real people in detail and dress. No one is excluded all characters good and bad are created to be included in the French manger scene.

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Italy

‘Buone Natale!’

Midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica

Midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica

Christmas season in Italy is traditionally celebrated December 24-January 6, or Christmas Eve through Epiphany. This follows the pagan season of celebrations that started with Saturnalia, a winter solstice festival, and ended with the Roman New Year, the Calends. However there are lots of Christmas things to see during December prior to Christmas, many starting on December 8, the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception.

Although Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) and giving presents on Christmas are becoming more common, the main day for gift giving is Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas when the three Wise Men gave Baby Jesus their gifts. In Italy, presents are brought by La Befana, who arrives in the night to fill children’s stockings. More about Epiphany and La Befana

Nativity Scene in Siena Italy

Nativity Scene in Siena Italy

Christmas decorations and trees are becoming more popular in Italy. Lights and decorations are often seen starting around December 8, the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, or even the end of November. The main focus of decorations continues to be the presepe, Nativity scene or creche. Almost every church has a presepe and they are often found outdoors in a piazza or public area, too.

Traditionally, a meatless dinner is eaten on Christmas eve with the family, followed by a living nativity scene and midnight mass. In parts of southern Italy a seven fishes dinner is traditionally served on Christmas Eve. Traditional bonfires are often held on Christmas Eve in the main square of town, especially in mountain areas. Dinner on Christmas day is usually meat based.

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Australia

‘Merry Christmas’

Santa arriving at the beach by boat

Santa arriving at the beach by boat

In Australia, the holiday comes in the middle of summer and it’s not unusual for some parts of Australia to hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit on Christmas day.

During the warm and sunny Australian Christmas season, beach time and outdoor barbecues are common. Traditional Christmas day celebrations include family gatherings, exchanging gifts and either a hot meal with ham, turkey, pork or seafood or barbecues.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas houses are decorated; greetings cards sent out; carols sung; Christmas trees installed in homes, schools and public places; and children delight in anticipating a visit from Santa Claus. On Christmas Day family and friends gather to exchange gifts and enjoy special Christmas food.

Many Australians spend Christmas out of doors, going to the beach for the day, or heading to camping grounds for a longer break over the Christmas holiday period. It has become traditional for international visitors who are in Sydney at Christmas time to go to Bondi Beach where up to 40,000 people visit on Christmas Day.

Blandfordia nobilis - Christmas bells

Blandfordia nobilis - Christmas bells

There are many native Australian plants in flower over the Christmas season. A number of these have become known as ‘Christmas plants‘ in various parts of the country, including Christmas bells, Christmas bush and the Christmas orchid.

When Europeans first arrived in Australia they were delighted that they could pick wildflowers resembling bells and bright green foliage covered in red or white flowers to use as Christmas decorations. This was a huge contrast to the bare trees and dormant gardens they had left behind in Europe.

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Czech Republic

‘Vesele Vanoce !’

Christmas market in Prague

Christmas market in Prague

Christmas in the Czech Republic begins with Svatej Nikulas Day, on December 6 and ends with the visit of the Tri Kralu (Three Kings) on January 6. On December 6, Saint Nicholas descends from the sky on a golden cord, accompanied by an angel dressed in white with gifts for the good boys and girls, and a devil named Cert dressed in black, carrying a whip and rattling a chain. As soon as the children hear them coming, they rush to the table and say their prayers. Those who know their prayers are rewarded with a gift; those who do not may feel Cert’s whip!

A twenty-four hour period of strict fast concludes on Christmas Eve when the first star of the night is seen. This star represents the star of Bethlehem. The children are promised that if they fast faithfully they will see golden pigs at supper time. At the beginning of supper, the candles are lit and the pigs appear on the wall and ceiling. The flickering of the candle flames perform the trick, because at the center of the table is the young roasted pig. The supper consists of seven courses and what is left over (there are always leftovers) is fed to the pigs. An extra place is set at the table and left empty for the Christ-child.

Vánocní cukroví - decorated cookies, traditionally eaten at Christmas

Vánocní cukroví - decorated cookies, traditionally eaten at Christmas

The manger scene is ever present in both church and home. These nativity scenes are called Bethlehems, and setting them up is a great family pastime. Usually they are complete villages carved from wood or fashioned from bread dough and then elaborately painted. Carolers carry miniature Bethlehem scenes as they go from house to house giving concerts. After singing, they are invited into the home for a glass of wine and a piece of vanocka, a sweetbread.

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Canada

‘Merry Christmas’

Christmas Lights in Old Montreal

Christmas Lights in Old Montreal

Canada is a country with a great number of immigrant families. Different cultural backgrounds such as French, English, German, Ukrainian, and First Nations come together as one people Canadians. Because of the many different peoples the customs of Christmas are very diverse.

Because of Canada’s strong Anglican and Catholic religious traditions, Christmas Eve is a big celebration. Many famous churches offer special services. The Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal has a 5,772 pipe organ and thousands of worshipers come on Christmas Eve to attend the service and hear the children’s choir.

The Christmas tree is native to the Canadian region. Nova Scotia is named “The Christmas Tree Province” because it produces more than 1.5 million trees each year for eastern Canada and the United States. Trees from this region are shipped as far away as Venezuela. All of the Canadian provinces together produce approximately 6 million Christmas trees every year.

Toronto Santa Claus Parade

Toronto Santa Claus Parade

Our Canadian Christmas tree is decorated with Chicken Bones and Barley Toys, two treats with strange names, but they have meant Christmas to children along Canada’s eastern shores for more than 100 years. Barley toys are tasty animal-shaped candies served either plain or on sticks and made from barley candy. The name barley probably comes from an old children’s game. Chicken Bones is a cinnamon flavored hard candy that is filled with chocolate and is a Christmas favorite in Canada.

Boxing Day, celebrated the day after Christmas, is an important national holiday to Canadians. Traditionally boxing day was a day delivery boys could hope to receive a gratuity from those they served. Today its main significance is a day of sales at stores. Many people use this day to exchange Christmas gifts.

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Greece

‘Kala Christouyenna!’

St. Nicholas is important in Greece as the patron saint of sailors. According to Greek tradition, his clothes are drenched with brine, his beard drips with seawater, and his face is covered with perspiration because he has been working hard against the waves to reach sinking ships and rescue them from the angry sea. To members of the Eastern Orthodox Church, as are most Greek Christians, Christmas ranks second to Easter in the roster of important holidays. Yet there are a number of unique customs associated with Christmas that are uniquely Greek.

On Christmas Eve, village children travel from house to house offering good wishes and singing kalanda, the equivalent of carols. Often the songs are accompanied by small metal triangles and little clay drums. The children are frequently rewarded with sweets and dried fruits.

A Christmas market in Athens, Greece

A Christmas market in Athens, Greece

After 40 days of fasting, the Christmas feast is looked forward to with great anticipation by adults and children alike. Pigs are slaughtered and on almost every table are loaves of christopsomo (“Christ Bread“). This bread is made in large sweet loaves of various shapes and the crusts are engraved and frosted with symbols that in some way that reflects the family’s profession. It is served with dried figs, nuts, and honey.

Christmas morning begins with an early Mass at the Greek Orthodox Church. After the service, Greeks feast on roast turkey stuffed with chestnuts, rice, pine nuts, and a nut cookie called kourambiethes. Baklava, another sweet dessert, is made from layers of phyllo pastry, filled with almonds and cinnamon, and then soaked in lemon syrup.

In almost every home it is traditional to have a shallow wooden bowl with a piece of wire is suspended across the rim; from that hangs a sprig of basil wrapped around a wooden cross. A small amount of water is kept in the bowl to keep the basil alive and fresh. Once a day, a family member, usually the mother, dips the cross and basil into some holy water and uses it to sprinkle water in each room of the house. This ritual is believed to keep the Kallikantzaroi away from the house.

Baklava

Baklava

There are a number of beliefs connected with the Kallikantzaroi, which are a species of goblins or spirits who appear only during the 12-day period from Christmas to the Epiphany (January 6). These creatures are believed to emerge from the center of the earth and to slip into people’s house through the chimney. More mischievous than actually evil, the Kallikantzaroi do things like extinguish fires, ride astride people’s backs, braid horses’ tails, and sour the milk. To further repel the undesirable sprites, the hearth is kept burning day and night throughout the twelve days.

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Venezuela

‘Feliz Navidad!’

Christmas in Venezuela is a mixture of religious tradition and sheer fun. Beginning on December 16, many families erect a pesebre in their house, with not only a nativity scene, but a diorama of the entire region with mountains, hills, plains, and valleys. Often this is a work of art into which the head of the family has put many hours, and the pieces become heirlooms to be passed down from generation to generation. One custom dictates that on the first day of the new year, the figure of the Christ child must be lifted from the manger crib and placed in a standing position until the Feast of Cadelaria on February 2nd. Neighbors and friends keep watch to be sure that the tradition is strictly honored. If it is not, the figure of the holy child will be secretly stolen and held for ransom. The ransom is a party that must be given by the people who have been appointed as godparents for the holy child. When the figurine is returned to its original setting, a procession is held which may include fireworks and a band along with much singing and dancing.

In the city of Caracas, Christmas Eve is a popular time and a rather unusual custom occurs shortly after midnight. That is when one of the main streets fills with hundreds of young roller-skaters. Friends and schoolmates skate together until time for a special church service, after which the young people skate home for a breakfast featuring hallacas, a traditional Venezuelan meat pie with a cornmeal crust that is wrapped in banana leaves and boiled.

Venezuelan Pan de jamon

Venezuelan Pan de jamon

There may be no snow for Santa’s sled or chimneys for him to climb down in Venezuela, but artificial Christmas trees, some with artificial snow on their branches, can be adorned with colorful decorations using traditional designs and colors.

A manger scene is the primary decoration in most southern European, Central American, and South American nations. St. Francis of Assisi created the first living nativity in 1224 to help explain the birth of Jesus to his followers.

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Amazing Christmas Truce of 1914

During World War I, on and around Christmas Day 1914, the sounds of rifles firing and shells exploding faded in a number of places along the Western Front in favor of holiday celebrations in the trenches and gestures of goodwill between enemies.

Starting on Christmas Eve, many German and British troops sang Christmas carols to each other across the lines, and at certain points the Allied soldiers even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing.

An unidentified soldier in a trench during the Christmas Truce of 1914

An unidentified soldier in a trench during the Christmas Truce of 1914

At the first light of dawn on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer.
A quiet moment in German trenches during World War I

A quiet moment in German trenches during World War I


Some soldiers used this short-lived ceasefire for a more somber task: the retrieval of the bodies of fellow combatants who had fallen within the no-man’s land between the lines.

The Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare. It was never repeated—future attempts at holiday ceasefires were quashed by officers’ threats of disciplinary action—but it served as heartening proof, however brief, that beneath the brutal clash of weapons, the soldiers’ essential humanity endured.

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Christmas Truce on WWI Battlefield Inspires Theater Show 94 Years Later

The cast of All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914

The cast of All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914

A 2008 national theater production, “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914,” was based on that historic moment, when an extraordinary night of camaraderie brought the spirit of the holidays even into the darkest of places. Written by Peter Rothstein, with musical arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach, the presentation features a cast of actors and vocalists who use letters, journals, official war documents, gravestone inscriptions and songs associated with the spontaneous truce to re-create a remarkable sequence of wartime events.

Thousands of men put down their guns and left their trenches to meet their enemies in ‘No Man’s Land’,” said Rothstein, who traveled to museums and libraries in Belgium and London as part of a two- year effort to collect first-hand accounts of the truce. “They exchanged gifts of tobacco, rum and chocolates, even photographs of loved ones. They sang songs, played a game of soccer and buried each other’s dead. Upon orders from above, they eventually returned to their trenches and re-instigated a war that would last four more years.”

That tale, which remains as poignant today as 94 years ago, was re-told on Christmas Day, when “All is Calm” was broadcast to more than 400 public radio stations in the United States as well as on the BBC in Canada, England, Australia, and New Zealand. The production featured members of the Minneapolis-based Cantus vocal ensemble and the Theater Latte Da acting troupe.

That these soldiers chose to honor the spirit of Christmas in the midst of chaos is a fitting reason to revisit their actions, Rothstein said, especially as conflicts continue to be waged across the globe.

It is a story that should be heard, especially today,” he said. “A month before the Christmas Truce of 1914, Winston Churchill (who would go on to serve as British Prime Minister during World War II) stated, ‘What would happen, I wonder, if the armies suddenly and simultaneously went on strike, and said some other method must be found of settling this dispute?’ I hope people leave the theater moved, enlightened and pondering Churchill’s prophetic statement.”

Joyeux Noël (2005)

In 1914, World War I, the bloodiest war ever at that time in human history, was well under way. However on Christmas Eve, numerous sections of the Western Front called an informal, and unauthorized, truce where the various front-line soldiers of the conflict peacefully met each other in No Man’s Land to share a precious pause in the carnage with a fleeting brotherhood….

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44-D’s Twenty-Five Days of Christmas Music Videos (Dec 19th)

The First Noël Performed by Allison Crowe

The First Nowell” (sometimes The First Noel or just Noel) is a traditional English Christmas carol, most likely from the 18th century. In its current form it is of Cornish origin, and it was first published in Some Ancient Christmas Carols (1823) and Gilbert and Sandys Christmas Carols (1833), edited by William B. Sandys and arranged, edited and with extra lyrics written by Davies Gilbert. The melody is unusual among English folk melodies in that it consists of one musical phrase repeated twice, followed by a variation on that phrase. All three phrases end on the third of the scale. The refrain, also unusually, merely repeats the melody of the verse. It is thought to be a corruption of an earlier melody sung in a church gallery setting; a conjectural reconstruction of the earlier version can be found in the New Oxford Book of Carols .

The word Nowell comes from the French word Noël meaning “Christmas“, from the Latin word natalis (“birth“). It may also be from the Gaulish words “noio” or “neu” meaning “new” and “helle” meaning “light” referring to the winter solstice when sunlight begins overtaking darkness.


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Lyrics

The first Noel the angel did say
was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
in fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
on a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Refrain:
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
born is the King of Israel.

They looked up and saw a star
shining in the east, beyond them far;
and to the earth it gave great light,
and so it continued both day and night.
(Refrain)

And by the light of that same star
three Wise Men came from country far;
to seek for a king was their intent,
and to follow the star wherever it went.
(Refrain)

This star drew nigh to the northwest,
o’er Bethlehem it took its rest;
and there it did both stop and stay,
right over the place where Jesus lay.
(Refrain)

Then entered in those Wise Men three,
full reverently upon the knee,
and offered there, in his presence,
gold and myrrh and frankincense.

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