Is Star Wars A Christmas Movie? (Reviewed)

The Star Wars movie franchise is a space opera. And a popular one at that! So much so that fans have a tendency to incorporate it in just about everything, including Christmas (like this inflatable Darth Vader Christmas yard decoration at Amazon). But is Star Wars actually a Christmas movie?

Star Wars is not a Christmas movie by standard Christmas movie plots. However, there are features that cause some to associate it with Christmas like good versus evil; sentimental heroes; a holiday spin-off; and December releases. Regardless fans tend to rewatch the Star Wars saga over the holidays.

Following the initial release of Star Wars: A New Hope, there have been many other releases in this Space Soap Opera. There are Star Wars movies like The Return Of The Jedi, The Empire Strikes Back, and later releases like Solo and The Force Awakens.

And it is mostly about the life and wars of both human and alien species in a faraway galaxy that existed even before the Earth. The series centers on a young man named Luke Skywalker who finds himself involved in the interplanetary war between the largest authoritarian power in the galaxy and the resistance forces.

However, all the major movies in the franchise are mostly about war, deception, death, and a constant battle between the forces of good and the forces of darkness. The almost constant battle between an evil empire struggling for world domination doesn’t necessarily put one in the Christmas spirit. Or does it?

Considering the plot and storyline of the franchise and the fact that the events in the story happen in another Galaxy that existed before the birth of the Earth, let alone the birth of Jesus (the ‘reason for the season’), it would be difficult to consider the movies in the franchise to be Christmas movies. However, that does not mean you can’t watch them during the Christmas season if you’re a fan, which many seem to enjoy at that time of the year.

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Below I’ve addressed why some think Star Wars is a Christmas movie, and some tidbits about the most popular Star Wars movies in the franchise. Please enjoy!


Why Is Star Wars Associated With Christmas?

The first Star Wars movie was released in 1977 and there has since been over 10 spin offs.

Star Wars has become an all-encompassing phenomenon that somehow surpasses boundaries in pop culture, and even popular holidays.

Star Wars began to be associated with Christmas with the 1978 Lucasfilm Holiday Card production, which was a poster of R2-D2 and C-3PO as a two Droid band, sparking Lucasfilm holiday cards ever since. As well, Star Wars movies were often released in December sparking another holiday tradition.

Soon after the first Lucasfilm Holiday card, concept artist Ralph McQuarrie started printing special Lucasfilm Holiday-themed cards. Years later, Hasbro turned them into action figures. At least that’s something with reasonable ties to Star Wars, although looking at an action figure of Yoda dressed as Santa isn’t the best Christmas image out there.

In addition to that, the Star Wars franchise has its version of Christmas or at least something close to it, called ‘Life Day’. The Star Wars Holiday Special introduced the ‘Life Day’ celebration and tries to encompass some Christmas traditions into the celebrations. The obsession with trees is one of the similarities between Life Day Celebration and Christmas. However, the trees on Star Wars are so much cooler because they’re holographic, in most fans’ opinion.

It is also worthy of note that the celebration of Life Day is heralded with many sweets and treats just like Christmas is. Well, not necessarily sweets but good food and a lot of it too. It would seem there is something about both holidays that encourage people to fill up their stomachs. Well, that’s one other way to look at it and see some resemblance between both holidays.

George Lucas himself once referred to the Star Wars Holiday Special as the ‘Christmas special’, which gave more credit to people who always like to associate Star Wars with Christmas.

Even the name ‘Life Day’ evokes Christmas, since the meaning of Christmas is about Jesus being born to the world, to save it. And seeing that Life Day is also about people celebrating and spending time with family and loved ones, the show creators seem to have had the Christmas spirit, from my perspective.

Another reason many have come to associate Star Wars with Christmas is simply because they’ve gotten in the habit of watching it in December. Since 93 percent of the US population celebrate Christmas, and it’s a federal holiday, many have time off in December.

With more time off, there’s more tv/movie watching and with the advent (pun intended!) of streaming, people tend to binge old favorites like Star Wars (as well as The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and even The Godfather movies) during this extra time.

Thus, Star Wars (and the others) have been associated with the ‘Christmas holiday movie genre’ even if they hardly have anything to do with the spirit of Christmas!

Which Star Wars Movie Is A Christmas Movie?

Some have said that every movie is a Christmas movie. And there’s no one size fits all definition of what a Christmas movie means. But it seems the Star Wars Holiday Special is certainly a frontrunner for Christmas. Also, many fans draw similarities between A New Hope and Christmas spirit.

However, I believe that if you can enjoy any Star Wars film at Christmas time, then that’s all that matters for making it a Christmas movie!

After all, Christmas only needs love, family, and good food too. Notwithstanding, the hard and fast definition of Christmas movies is those with Christmas themes, the Christmas tree, the lights, the shopping, family…basically the whole nine yards.

Apart from the more popular movies in the Star Wars franchise, a holiday special was released as mentioned already. And although it didn’t meet viewers’ expectations and wasn’t as well-received as the other movies in the franchise, it’s still a very good movie to cozy up to on a cold Christmas evening, becoming a classic in its own right.

In 1978 Star Wars released a holiday spin off that was greatly anticipated but not well-received.

The Star Wars Holiday Special was suited to be a ‘Christmas movie’ by title, right? The  American Television special was released in 1978 and set in the Star Wars Science-fiction Universe. The events in this film took place between the original Star Wars film’s events and the Empire Strikes Back. The special follows Han Solo as he attempts to visit the Wookie Home Planet to celebrate ‘Life Day’, which is more or less the Star Wars version of Christmas.

However, their efforts are thwarted by Galactic forces who are searching for allied resistance forces. Finally, after several fights and many failed attempts at preparing a meal, the family reunites at the Life Tree but not before gifts are exchanged per holiday fashion. And the family gathers at the table for a meal, another holiday tradition.

Is Star Wars A Good Movie For Christmas?

Some fans love Star Wars so much that they create their own holiday version.

Any movie can be a good movie to watch on Christmas day or during the holidays as long as it’s enjoyable, so Star Wars is a good movie for Christmas in that sense. But if you’re looking for a holiday-themed movie with Santa Claus, Christmas lights, and holiday carols, you might want to look elsewhere.

Star Wars has more to do with families fighting with swords than families offering each other mashed potatoes. And the kids there mostly grow up without their parents and have to fight large killing machines, so that’s not ideal Christmas content, especially if you’re not the fight-your-family type of person.

However, if you like seeing aliens and intergalactic wars in a world of advanced technology and indestructible lightsabers with a little touch of dysfunctionality, then you can watch Star Wars. Specifically, you should watch The Empire Strikes Back. Some critics have actually dubbed it a Christmas movie, seeing as it has some particulars of the Christmas season.

Most Popular Star Wars Movies: The Force VS The Empire

So let’s take a look at some of the most notable Star Wars movies. Below I’ve separated them based on what’s popular by three categories: most viewed (or streamed), made the most money, and most popular by critical reviews (via highest ratings).

You’ll find that two Star Wars films rise to the top: The Force Awakens and The Empire Strikes Back.

I hope this gives some additional perspective on whether or not Star Wars is a Christmas movie.

Most Popular Star Wars Movie by Ratings is The Empire Strikes Back

Rotten Tomatoes rates Star Wars: Episode V- The Empire Strikes Back released in 1980 as the highest rated movie in the Star Wars franchise. It rates a whopping 94 percent!

To understand how this score is compiled, Rotten Tomatoes takes all the reviews from “Tomatometer-approved critics and publications” to generate the “Tomatometer scores.” So in other words, this score is not fan-based, but movie critic based.

By comparison, IMDB shows The Empire Strikes Back as the number 15th movie of all time. Star Wars: A New Hope, the originally ‘first’ released of the saga, is ranked at number 25. With IMDB rankings contributed by fans (amateur reviewers) it seems regular folk, however, agree with the critics in placing The Empire ahead of other Star Wars films including the first one (no other Star Wars movie is listed in the Top 25 list, mind you).

Most Popular by Earnings is Star Wars: The Force Awakens

With that in mind, it might surprise you then to know that the most popular by money earning power is The Force Awakens, not the critically acclaimed Empire or A New Hope.

According to Box Office Mojo, Star Wars The Force Awakens has earned the most money at the box office with over 9 billion dollars made (so far). I say this because with every passing year, the Star Wars movies, continue to make money- with new fans continually being added.

Most Watched Star Wars Movie is The Force Awakens

Surprisingly, the most watched via streaming ‘Star Wars’ movie is The Force Awakens, too. I guess this makes sense considering it’s out-earned the other Star Wars movies substantially with the next in earnings being almost 4 billion less.

However, it’s a bit incongruous when you consider overwhelmingly that The Empire Strikes Back is so highly rated, topping most every ‘best film’ list, as well as critics reviews for Star Wars movies.

Regardless of popularity, fans appreciate all Star Wars movies it seems; that’s why they’re called ‘fans’!

Wrapping Up Is Star Wars A Christmas Movie?

To wrap it up, Star Wars is not a Christmas movie, not in the typical ‘Christmas movie’ sense. It’s most often described as a space soap opera, and appeals to male viewers much more than female, as opposed to women being the more common ‘Christmas movie audience’ (judging by the Hallmark Channel, that is!).

However, because people have time off at Christmas and enjoy more tv/movie watching, many tend to binge the Star Wars movies at this holiday time. As well, Star Wars films were often released in December, giving them a Christmas-time connection. In addition, there are some common themes between Star Wars and Christmas, if you look hard enough and keep loose ‘rules.’

So go ahead and watch Star Wars while sipping your eggnog! It can be part of your Christmas movie tradition if you want!

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Sources; Rotten Tomatoes

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