It’s true that many of our traditional Christmas movies originate from America. However, some of the best are set in Europe. Afterall, this is where so many Christmas traditions originated. We may have cheated a little on some of these European Christmas movies, however, you will definitely find at least some European influence in all of them! Here are some of our favourites:
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The Holiday (2006) – Surrey, England
Although half of this movie is set in sunny California, the other half is set in Surrey, England. This movie shows the best of the warm cosy English cottages and pubs at winter. If only England really had a white Christmas every year! It’s the perfect movie to get you in the festive mood.
Love Actually (2003) – London, France and Portugal.
If you enjoyed Bridget Jones or 4 Weddings and a Funeral you’re in for a treat, as this movie was written and directed by the same guy. This cult classic is based in England, and captures the atmosphere of London during the festive season perfectly. It even gets bonus points for including a story set in France and Portugal. With some of the best actors Britain has to offer, including Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth and Ciera Nightley to name a few, this film was set for success from the very beginning.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) – London, England
So maybe this film doesn’t have the most English actors in the world, but this fun play on Dickens’ famous novel definitely deserves a mention. Somehow crossing modern day pop culture and a 19th century story works seamlessly, and has transformed into a modern day Christmas classic. This is possibly partly due to how closely the film mirrors the original story, using direct quotes from the novel.
Joyeux Noel (2005) – Western Front, France
Possibly the most true to the meaning of European Christmas movies, this film is based on the real events of the Christmas Truce (also known as Weihnachtsfrieden or Trêve de Noël) during WWI. It follows the heart warming story as soldiers from all sides come together in peace at Christmas. It covers the French, Scottish and German perspective, and has dialogue in all three languages. We can’t think of anything more fitting for a Christmas movie than a story of peace and love.
Home Alone (1990) – Paris
So we had to cheat a little on this list since so many Christmas movies are American – but this one technically still qualifies! Although Kevin gets stuck behind in Chicago, USA his family manages to make it to Paris – even if his mother simply turns around the first chance she gets. We get a few shots of the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomf at least!
Krampus (2015) – Central European folklore
Ok, for us to describe this as a European Christmas movies is definitely cheating. However, we decided to include it thanks to its nod to Central European Christmas folklore. Krampus is a companion of Saint Nicholas in Central European countries including Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovenia. He has an appearance that seems to be a mixture between a goat and the devil. He is hairy, and has the cloven hooves and horns of a goat. He has a long, pointed tongue and fangs. Whilst St Nicholas is in charge of bringing gifts to the good children, Krampus takes care of those on the naughty list, giving out coal and Ruten bundles (which are traditionally used to swat children).
This movie doesn’t play exactly to the traditional folklore, and instead punishes a whole family for losing their Christmas spirit. If you want to convince a child to get off the naughty list, this movie would certainly do it (although we wouldn’t recommend it!).
Nativity! (2009) – Coventry
Capturing the essence of primary school (ages 4-11) Nativity performances, this film follows a disgruntled teacher and his enthusiastic, hilarious class as they try to put on the biggest and the best nativity Coventry has ever seen! This film is sure to make you laugh and warm your heart. It even features The Hobbit’s Martin Freeman!
The Shop around the Corner (1940) – Budapest
Although an American film, this story is set in Budapest, and based on the 1937 Hungarian play Parfumerie by Miklós László. It tells the love story between two disgruntled employees at a leather goods shop in Hungary during the lead up to Christmas. A true Christmas classic, this is a must see.
How many of these have you seen? Did we miss any out? Let me know in the comments below!