Santa's favorite films: The magic of Christmas documentaries and other festivities

Dec. 11, 2023


The Christmas season, a time of joy, festivity, and wonder, has long been a cherished subject in the world of film and television. Documentaries exploring the rich tapestry of Christmas traditions, history, and celebrations provide a unique window into the heart of this beloved holiday. With platforms like Netflix, YouTube, and Guidedoc offering a plethora of these films to watch online, viewers can immerse themselves in the festive spirit from the comfort of their homes.


Around the world, the holiday season is a tapestry of vibrant traditions, each uniquely reflecting the cultural heartbeat of its people. In the snowy climes of Latvia, the documentary "33 Animals of Santa Claus" unveils a heartwarming tale of a woman who embodies the spirit of Santa Claus, caring for her 33 animals and spreading joy among children. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, "Passion Play" captures the intense and visceral re-enactment of Christ's crucifixion, a profound expression of faith and tradition. In Mexico, the town of Tultepec comes alive with a spectacular and explosive festival of San Juan De Dios, where the night sky is lit with fiery bulls and the streets dance with jubilant crowds. Further east, in the desert town of Pushkar, India, a once serene holy land transforms into a sprawling carnival during the full moon of Kartik, blending religious reverence with festive exuberance. These diverse celebrations, from the serene to the sensational, demonstrate the rich tapestry of global cultures, where joy, faith, and community spirit shine brightly in the darkest months of the year.


Moreover, they highlight the power of storytelling and the role it plays in preserving traditions and creating new ones. These documentaries are not just a passive viewing experience; they are an invitation to reflect on our own holiday experiences and the values we cherish during this special time of the year.


Must Watch Christmas Documentaries and Docuseries:



Jingle Bell Rocks

This captivating documentary delves into the world of Christmas music, exploring a range of unusual and eccentric holiday songs. Director Mitchell Kezin takes viewers on a whimsical journey, uncovering the stories behind these lesser-known yuletide tunes. From obscure vinyl records to interviews with musicians and collectors, "Jingle Bell Rocks!" is a heartfelt exploration of the music that shapes our holiday experiences. The film combines nostalgia, humor, and a deep love for the Christmas spirit, offering a fresh perspective on the sounds of the season.


33 Animals of Santa Claus

This captivating documentary delves into the life of Livia, a Latvian woman who embodies the spirit of Santa Claus. Living in a humble apartment with 33 animals, she spreads joy in her snowy neighborhood by exchanging treats for poems and songs from local children. This black-and-white film, lasting just under 50 minutes, challenges viewers to question the nature of belief and kindness in a world often marred by cynicism, offering a poignant exploration of the Santa Claus myth through the lens of a simple yet profound narrative.


The Christmas Chronicles

This amazing documentary is a visual and cultural journey through the various ways Christmas is celebrated worldwide. The documentary takes viewers from the snowy landscapes of the North Pole to sunny Australian beaches, showcasing a wide array of traditions and festivities. It delves into the origins of Christmas customs, the food, the decorations, and the profound impact of the holiday on global culture. Through interviews with historians, cultural experts, and ordinary people, the film paints a vivid picture of the holiday's universal appeal and its ability to bring people together.


Santa Fiesta

In this hard-hitting documentary, three direct sentences set against a black background tinged with red ominously introduce us to the darker aspects of Spanish tradition, hinting at the cruelty embedded within the country's cultural practices towards animals. Director Miguel Angel Rolland adopts a sharp and unflinching perspective, delving into the complex interplay between Spain's religious festivals and animal violence. By employing an observational approach, Rolland compellingly shifts the viewer's gaze from the hunter to the prey, challenging accustomed perceptions and inviting a deeper, more empathetic understanding of the animals' plight.


Becoming Santa

This gripping documentary follows the heartwarming journey of Jack Sanderson, who decides to become a professional Santa Claus. The film documents his transformation, from attending Santa School to donning the iconic red suit and interacting with children. Viewers are given an insider's look at the world of professional Santas and the joy they bring during the holiday season. "Becoming Santa" is a touching exploration of the role of Santa Claus in contemporary society and the magic he represents for people of all ages.


Passion Play

This is an amazing documentary that takes the viewer into the heart of Angles, Philippines, where locals engage in a visceral re-enactment of Christ's crucifixion. The film thoughtfully explores the intersections of religious tradition and spectacle, gradually transitioning from a portrayal of reality to an almost surreal realm underscored by a bombastic orchestral score. This artistic choice accentuates the performative and theatrical elements inherent in acts of worship. As the documentary unfolds, it navigates the complex emotional terrain of shock and delight, reverence and sacrilege, resulting in a tense and stirring portrayal of fervent passions. This is a film that is not for the faint of heart, as it deeply engages with themes that might challenge and unsettle its audience.


A Very British Christmas

This charming documentary is a celebration of Christmas in the United Kingdom, showcasing the unique traditions that define the holiday in Britain. From mince pies and Christmas crackers to carol singing and the Queen's Christmas message, the film explores the rich tapestry of British Christmas customs. It also examines how these traditions have evolved and continue to hold a special place in the hearts of the British people. Through interviews and personal stories, "A Very British Christmas" offers an intimate look at the festive season in the UK, filled with warmth, charm, and nostalgia.



In the heart of a Mexican town square under the cover of night, a breathtaking spectacle unfolds as hundreds of bull-shaped structures, crafted from flammable materials, erupt into a brilliant display of fire, casting thousands of sparks in every direction. Amidst this pyrotechnic chaos, the black silhouettes of revelers - dancing, jumping, kissing, laughing, and crying - bring the scene to life. These are the people of Tultepec, immersed in the vibrant celebration of the San Juan De Dios festival. This short film, through its masterful observational lens and infusion of surreal imagery, offers a mesmerizing glimpse into this explosive ritual, capturing the emotions and expressions of those who partake in this extraordinary tradition.


The Great Christmas Light Fight

This captivating documentary series takes viewers into the competitive world of Christmas light displays. Each episode features different families and communities as they prepare elaborate and extravagant light shows in hopes of winning the coveted prize. The series not only showcases the stunning visual spectacle of these displays but also delves into the personal stories of the participants, their passion for Christmas decorations, and the sense of community and spirit they foster. "Christmas Light Fight" is a celebration of creativity, ingenuity, and the joyous spirit of the holiday season.


Pushkar Myths

In the quaint town of Pushkar in Rajasthan, northwest India, a stunning transformation unfolds annually during the full moon of the autumn month of Kartik. This holy Hindu site bursts into life as a vibrant fair, complete with Ferris wheels, carousels, a blend of folklore and rock music, and colorful dance performances. People from all walks of life, Hindus and Muslims alike, gather in thousands to trade animals amidst this ephemeral desert spectacle. Director Kamal Swaroop, famed for his work on “Om Dar-B-Dar,” captures this fleeting yet intense festival with a keen eye, highlighting both the cultural richness and the political nuances embedded within India's myths and gods.


As we journey through these global festivities, from Latvia's snowy embrace to the vibrant desert of Pushkar, it becomes clear that the essence of these celebrations transcends geographical boundaries and cultural differences. Each tradition, with its unique rituals and customs, serves as a reminder of the universal human desire for connection, celebration, and a sense of belonging. Whether it's through the gentle act of giving in Latvia, the solemn observance in the Philippines, the fiery jubilation in Mexico, or the colorful chaos of Indian festivities, these diverse practices all share a common thread – the celebration of life, community, and the enduring spirit of humanity. In this rich tapestry of global traditions, we find a deeper understanding of each other and the myriad ways in which joy, hope, and togetherness are celebrated around the world.


For those eager to embark on this cinematic journey, platforms like Guidoc and Netflix provide easy access to these documentaries, allowing viewers to immerse themselves in global traditions from the comfort of their homes. Each film is a testament to the richness of human expression and the universal language of celebration.


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