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Christmas Anniversaries 2020

Every year for Christmas in July we recount the anniversaries of Christmas – literally a history of Christmas history. The amount of Christmas to recount in 2020 is amazing.

~ Christmas 25 Years Ago (1995) ~

One of the amazing things about Christmas is that a Christmas movie doesn’t necessarily have to be about Christmas to be a Christmas movie. In 1995 such a movie was made in While You Were Sleeping, a film that has since become a, well, Christmas classic:

Mannheim Steamroller kept rolling with their Christmas hits with this runaway rendition of Joy to the World, released 25 years ago:

Other Christmas releases of note in 1995 include Luther Vandross’ Every Year, Every Christmas, Santa I’m Right Here by Toby Keith and this classic by Joe Diffie:

~ Christmas 30 Years Ago (1990) ~

Two notable Christmas classics were produced 30 years ago. The first was written by David Foster and performed by Natalie Cole, called Grown Up Christmas List:

But far and away the biggest hit of Christmas 1990 starred a kid being a kid – in the now-classic Christmas move, Home Alone:

~ Christmas 40 Years Ago (1980) ~

The year 1980 was a tough year culturally but Christmas did receive a gift from a more obscure offering from Jimmy Stewart. This late-in-career production starred Stewart as Willie Krueger, in a brief story that would gain fame through continuous replay on television for decades:

This scene of Stewart at the manger of Christ was done in one take, with Stewart evidently telling the director, “I hope you got it, I’ve only got one of these in me”. The movie is called Mr. Krueger’s Christmas.

~ Christmas 50 Years Ago (1970) ~

Fifty years ago Christmas on Television was as big an influence on anything. The famous Rankin Bass production of Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town was telecast on December 14th, 1970. It has re-run every year without stopping since and sold millions as stand-alone video copies:

It was a huge year for Christmas music too with the release of Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano, the Jackson 5 Christmas album, and the hit single Merry Christmas Darling by the Carpenters.

A Christmas Carol had another classic adaptation released in 1970, a musical called Scrooge, starring Albert Finney:

~ Christmas 75 Years Ago (1945) ~

Christmas 1945 was epic and everyone at the time knew that it would be. It was the first post-WWII Christmas and everyone couldn’t wait to get home.

Bing Crosby continued his extraordinary Christmas superstar run in 1945 with the release of his classic album, Merry Christmas. This album was put out by Decca and included White Christmas, the best-selling Christmas single of all time. The compilation of Christmas hits would be released over and over again. It has gone on to become the 2nd best-selling Christmas album ever, only eclipsed by Elvis’ Christmas Album of 1957.

Bing wasn’t done, though. In 1945 he repeated his Oscar-winning role as Father Chuck O’Malley in a movie called Bells of St. Mary’s, considered by many to be a Christmas movie. The Bells of St. Mary’s is one of the most profitable movies ever made.

The year 1945 also brought another Christmas classic in Let It Snow, made famous first by Vaughn Monroe:

~ Christmas 100 Years Ago (1920) ~

The year 1920 was one of recovery. At last removed from the wars and pandemic of the previous decade America was looking to heal and move forward in 1920. It would bounce back in several ways.

Manufacturers were free from war-time limitations and rations – so shoppers could once again buy a full assortment of products from toys to furniture.

The hot sellers were “talking machines” – the phonographs and radios that would bring full time entertainment right into the home.

Kodak Brownie cameras, at just $2 each, were huge sellers as people everywhere were looking to take advantage of the ever-easier way of taking pictures themselves.

Another hot gift of Christmas in 1920? Think cars. Listen to this episode of the Merry Little Podcast about the epic Christmas of 1920:

Here’s a visual look at Christmas 100 years ago:


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