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Beyond the Lone Islands

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas Special

Rae asked a question in a comment about perhaps the strangest of all Swedish Christmas Eve traditions:

Quick question: Do you watch Kalle Anka on Christmas Eve? I just read that this is a Swedish tradition, and it's not something we have in the States. I'm curious, and so glad I have a direct line to ask these kinds of questions!

Yes. It is true. The Kalle Anka = Donald Duck Christmas special is still aired at 3 p.m. every Christmas Eve. When it started, back in the very early days of television, this was a real treat: there was only one channel, and we almost never got any cartoons. So any other previous Christmas Eve family traditions were set aside to give room for an hour of Disney, in almost every home that had a television set.

Why on earth they/we still keep it up, in this media age overflowing with TV channels that send nothing but cartoons, and everything available on DVD besides, I really don't know! Rumour has it that it is people of my own generation and older who still insist on watching it "live" at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve... The kids couldn't care less, since they watch cartoons all the time!

Neither I nor my brother had children of our own. It has been a very long time since we celebrated Christmas with any children around. The last few years it has only been our parents and us (and my brother's dog) on Christmas Eve. Mum and Dad, as late as last year, still insisted on turning on the TV for the Disney show at 3 p.m. - even though they usually ended up sleeping through it, and my brother and I often did not bother to watch it at all!

This year, Mum no longer with us, was the first Christmas Eve ever (that I can recall) that the TV wasn't even on at 3 p.m. We were all resting and Dad fast asleep; not in his chair but on his bed... He never mentioned it, neither earlier in the day nor after he woke up, so I don't think he remembered.

Quote from Wikipedia :

From All of Us to All of You is an animated television Christmas special, produced by Walt Disney Productions and first presented on December 19, 1958 as part of the Walt Disney Presents anthology series. Hosted by Jiminy Cricket along with Mickey Mouse and Tinkerbell, the special combines newly-produced animation with clips from vintage animated Disney shorts and feature films, presented to the viewer as "Christmas cards" from the various characters starring in each one.

Starting in 1963 and continuing through the 1970s, re-airings of the special would include preview footage of the studio's new or upcoming feature films. Beginning in 1983, it was expanded to 90 minutes and retitled A Disney Channel Christmas for airing on cable television's The Disney Channel.

The show has been shown infrequently in the US in recent years, but in the Nordic countries (Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway) the show has been broadcast every year since 1959, and has become a holiday classic.

In Sweden, the show is called Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul ("Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas"). It is broadcast on SVT at 3 PM every Christmas Eve, in connection to the all-day traditional holiday programme.

The show is one of the most popular shows all year in Sweden. Every year the viewers number between 3 million and 4.5 million in a country with ~9 million inhabitants.

I'm home for the night; tomorrow will be more or less a repetition of today, i.e. my brother will come again to pick me up before lunch, and drive me back in the early evening. Dad has home carers popping in and out around the clock even when we are there now. We are grateful for their services.

The house was warmed up again (after breakdown of the heating system the other week), and all the appliances seemed to be in working order. To our surprise, we even found the house full of gnomes/ Santa figures, which I thought it too early to put up around 1st Advent when we were there last. I thought my brother had put them up last night - he wondered if I had been there in between to do it! Big mystery when we compared notes and we both said neither of us had anything to do with it! Turned out it was one of the home carers. She happened to be popping in today, too, so that's how we found out. Some of the things she had dug out of the closet we hadn't seen for years, and of course she had put them in (for us) unexpected places. Quite funny! There was even a gnome on the wash basin in the bathroom - one that I can't even recall having ever seen before!



rae said...

Thanks for the post-reply! I'm going to have to find a copy of this Disney special because now I'm very curious about it!

And what a nice little treat for the home carer to decorate a bit. It must have been a good little adventure finding all those figurines!

Scriptor Senex said...

I suspect it's not just older folk who love the tradition. Younger folk also like traditions simply because that is what they are -traditions - something to cling onto as islands of stability in this rapiply changing world. I feel a blog posting on the subject coming on.........

California Girl said...

without seeing it, I don't know if I'm familiar with this Disney show but I bet I am. Nice background info on what was dear to my heart as a child, anything Disney.

Tough to spend your first Christmas without your mother. My best to you and your family.

GB said...

there don't seem to be any Christmas traditions of that sort in New Zealand but then it is an exceptionally young and diverse country. Before Christmas most town do have their Christmas Parade, however.


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