Is “The Godfather” The Most Unlikely Addition to the Christmas Movie Canon?

How a classic film became a holiday season broadcast fixture

"The Godfather" logo
Just in time for the holidays, a heartwarming story about family.

When it comes to watching movies around the holidays, what makes for an unlikely yet satisfying choice for viewing? Some might opt for a classic: A Christmas Story or It’s a Wonderful Life. Others might opt for a yuletide tale with a bit more action: Die Hard is the obvious choice, but the horror-tinged Rare Exports is highly underrated. But there’s one beloved film that’s become a favorite for many viewers around Christmas, despite it not falling remotely within the purview of Christmas movies.

That would be The Godfather — which, on the surface, doesn’t seem to have much to do with Christmas, or any other holiday. At CrimeReads, Halley Sutton explored this unlikely juxtaposition of movie and holiday, and how the two came to converge. 

If this sounds bewildering to you, you’re not alone — Sutton lists a number of questions that come to mind about The Godfather’s unlikely prominence during the holidays.

What about The Godfather, a movie that does not particularly circle holidays, makes it so worth showing at the same time every year? When did we decide that this was a thing we were going to go all in on?

Sutton ponders no less than 6 potential answers to these questions, including the notion that the film’s focus on family dovetails with the family-centered nature of the season. As Sutton notes, there’s something surreal about this — the Corleones are not exactly the most admirable of families — and yet, as classic movies go, “there’s something recognizable and beautiful in the Corleones’ love for each other.”

Who knows — if this trend accelerates, perhaps we might start seeing strategically placed horses’ heads become a new festive tradition all its own. Though we wouldn’t bet on it.

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