Christmas 2008 Fillers

By Reina V. Kutner

September 5, 2008 5 min read

Shorts and Fillers

Christmas 2008

Reina V. Kutner

Creators News Service


We have many holiday classic movies and television specials that have spanned generations. However, did you know...?

* When "It's a Wonderful Life" was released in 1946, it was considered a box-office flop. The movie cost $3.7 million to make, and only made $3.3 million during its first run. The year after, the FBI released a memo claiming that the James Stewart film served as "communist propaganda."

* The house in the movie "A Christmas Story" is now a museum dedicated to the movie in Cleveland, Ohio. It can be rented out for fundraising functions and parties, including weddings.

* CBS executives originally objected to "A Charlie Brown Christmas" having such a strong message about the holidays and no canned laughter. Some executives even thought it would be a flop.

* The scenes of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the original "Miracle on 34th Street" were from the actual parade in 1946. Because there was no chance to reshoot it, cameras were situated all along the parade route.

* Dr. Seuss originally objected to animating any of his books before "The Grinch Stole Christmas," until animated legend Chuck Jones convinced him to do so. Dr. Seuss even wrote all the lyrics to the songs in the special.

--- Information courtesy of


There are many accounts of the Christmas of 1914 during World War I. On the Western Front, the Germans, British and French were fighting each other. But during Christmas Eve in 1914, the shooting had stopped and the German soldiers started putting up Christmas trees and started singing Christmas songs.

Although the other troops were originally suspicious, quite a few would join in the festivities. Eventually, the other troops began to sing Christmas songs in their own languages.

Although many officers on all sides disapproved, many of the soldiers would meet during the next several days during an informal truce. They drank together, showed pictures of their families and even played soccer. This truce was in different parts of the Western Front, and lasted anywhere from a few days up until New Year's Day 1915.


Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer may be a Christmas staple in both song and in his own television special. However, the truth is that Rudolph is a 20th century creation commissioned by a department store.

Rudolph was created by Robert L. May, an artist who worked for the Montgomery Ward department store. He was commissioned to make a Christmas book to give away to shoppers. He created the story of Rudolph, which was passed out to millions of people. It told the story of a reindeer who many people made fun of, but Santa came upon and asked to lead his sleigh on a foggy Christmas night.

The story went to another level when Johnny Marks, May's brother-in-law, wrote lyrics to a song about Rudolph that was recorded by Gene Autry in 1949. The record sold two million copies and was one of the more popular recordings of the day.


* Christmas was declared a national U.S. holiday in 1870.

* Christmas trees have been sold commercially in the United States since 1850.

* Franklin Pierce was the first president to put a Christmas tree in the White House in 1856.

* Teddy Roosevelt banned a Christmas tree from the White House for environmental reasons.

* Calvin Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in 1921.

* In 1963, the White House Christmas tree was not lit until December 22, after a 30-day mourning period for John F. Kennedy.

* In 1979, the National Christmas Tree was not lighted except for the top ornament. This was to honor the American hostages in Iran.

* The National Christmas Tree Association has given a tree to the President and first family each year since 1966.

* The first decorated Christmas tree on record was in Riga, Latvia in 1510.

* The first printed reference to a Christmas tree came from Germany in 1531.

* Thomas Edison's assistant Edward Johnson came up with the idea for electric lights for Christmas trees in 1882.

* Every year since 1947, the people of Oslo, Norway give a Christmas tree to the town of Westminster, England. It is an expression of good will and gratitude for Britain's help to Norway during World War II.

--- Information courtesy of the University of Illinois Extension

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