The Cable

This Christmas, Watch These Classic European Holiday Flicks (and Home Alone)

Want a break from Love Actually? Try Six Degrees of Celebration.


The United Kingdom has Love Actually. The United States has Home Alone and A Christmas Story. But what do other, non-predominantly English speaking countries watch when they want to get into the holiday spirit over a fine film? This Christmas and New Year’s, consider tuning into the following:

Russia has the Soviet New Year’s classic The Irony of Fate, or, Enjoy Your Bath! The basic plot is this: Zhenya is supposed to go home to his apartment in Moscow after getting drunk with his pals in a bathhouse. His friend is supposed to fly to Leningrad. However, they are both so inebriated that Zhenya ends up on the plane. This being the Soviet Union in the 1970s, the streets have the same name, and the buildings on them all look the same, and the keys all work for all of the locks. And so it comes to be that Zhenya ends up going to his Moscow address in Leningrad, and finds himself in an apartment owned by Nadya. Romantically tinged comedic hijinx ensue. Russia has since given us the 2011 Yolki, or Pine Trees, otherwise known as Six Degrees of Celebration, in which a young girl in an orphanage claims her father is then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. As proof, her fellow orphans want her to get him to say the words, “Father Frost helps those who help themselves” in his annual New Year’s address. Her would-be boyfriend puts a plan into action to get the message to Medvedev (played by Medvedev, because 2011 was a simpler time) through … yes, six degrees of celebration.

Sweden takes a different approach. Every year, Swedes watch Donald Duck on Christmas Eve on television. It is followed by Kan du vissla Johanna?, the story of a young boy who wishes for a grandfather he can love. This is a decidedly different direction than that taken by Finland, which has given us Rare Exports. Set in Finland’s Lapland, which is said to be the terrestrial home of Santa Claus, it tells the story of a Santa who awakens from his slumber to go on a killing spree. Also, in Finnish, the word for Santa Claus literally translates to Christmas Goat. Scary stuff from Finland.

Poland prefers Home Alone, and Poles have reportedly been known to protest on social media when it is not aired. However, in Poland, the film is called Kevin Alone in the House, and is more commonly known as Kevin.

The Czech Republic has its very own Cinderella as a Christmas story. But in Three Wishes for Cinderella, a Czechoslovak/East German film made in 1973, Cinderella, who is a sharpshooter with three magical wishes, makes Prince Charming work for her hand. The film is still popular in the Czech Republic, and in other countries, too, like Norway, where it is dubbed entirely by one Norwegian man, and where it is so loved that the Norwegian, and not Czech, government paid for the film to be digitally remastered.

Norway also watches Germany’s favorite, Dinner for One, every New Year’s Eve. Germans are surprised that this short program is not watched the world over. But it is not. It is, however, well-loved in Germany.

France has a Christmas film that literally translates into Father Christmas Is a Garbage Person. Also, it has Mom, I Missed the Plane, which is the French title for, yes, Home Alone.

Photo credit: NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is the U.S. editor of the New Statesman and the author of The Influence of Soros, published July 2020. Twitter: @emilyctamkin

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