Christmas According to Hallmark

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and you know what that means…


Okay, the movies have been out since September, but the closer we get to Christmas, the more plentiful these sweet, Christmas-y romances become. And since they’re in such abundance, Rachel McMillan and I decided to delve deep into the definition Hallmark gives for a Christmas romance designed by the over 100-year-old company.

There are certain ‘hallmark’ characteristics featured in almost all of Hallmark’s Christmas movies, so for the sake of our article, we’re sticking with the ‘small town’ Christmas movies. Though the city-set ones have many of the same themes, there is a distinct difference with most Hallmark classic Christmas romances that celebrate the small-town life.

So what are some of the ‘must haves’ in most of these movies?

Well, there’s usually some sort of Christmas tree-lighting or festival, a fish-out-of-water hero/heroine. Usually someone has something to lose, like a house or a business…or sometimes “Christmas”. There’s usually a ‘santa’ figure or possible ‘angel’ or at the very least a wise, older mentor to keep the hero/heroine on track (or provide some Christmas magic). Inevitably, there is an overheard partial conversation which leads to a separation between the hero and heroine near the end of the movie ending in a glorious epiphany of understanding.  There are mistletoe kisses and cookie baking aplenty, tree decorations and adorable cafes. White Christmases and musical performances involving children dressed as elves. Snowman building contests or wreath-making. Inevitably there is finding that ‘perfect tree’ which has to be a real tree (if it’s not real you’re probably the villain). Old loves renewed. New loves discovered. All usually set within a quaint, small town, with houses so perfect you might expect Andy Griffith to greet you on the Christmas-lit street.  And, of course, we have the natural predictability of most of the movies. Come on – we’re not too crazy to admit that within fifteen minutes of each show, we can guess the ending.

And YET – we still WATCH them!! Ravenously.

What is it that has caused Hallmark movies to have this incredible edge? Especially the Christmas ones?

Well, they do something universal to our culture.

They celebrate the romance and nostalgia of Christmas.

Rachel says it well: The desire (in Hallmark Christmas movies) is rarely about a person. It’s about Christmas. It is about the holiday.... So the love interest just represents the best of the holiday. They’re not marrying and falling in love with a person so much as a version of Christmas and what it means in its best sense.

Hallmark Christmases are like looking into a snow globe of a perfect Christmas world and watching the inner workings take place. Sure, there are troubles, but none of them are BIG troubles (except in a few cases). The focus becomes celebrating the timelessness of family, traditions, and love (with some vague faith elements thrown in and a few excellent carolers). We fall in love with Christmas by watching two people fall in love with each other.

So… let’s celebrate Christmas with small-towns and sweet romances. Cozy fireplaces and lit trees. Where families laugh together, and people find belonging in community and place. Let’s get lost for a little while in predictable outcomes and conflict that is resolved by the end of the day – because in a world of constant struggles, wars, divisiveness, and heartache, it’s nice to believe in something different. To peer into that snow globe for a few minutes of beautiful Christmas magic and hold on to the miracles, guilt-free. Because, ultimately, isn’t that what we’re all searching for – love and belonging…

Two “hallmarks” of the meaning of Christmas after all.

Looking for some Hallmark-y Christmas Reads?

Check out these great novels & novellas that celebrate small town Christmas romance a la Hallmark movies…

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As a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Pepper Basham enjoys sprinkling her Appalachian into her fiction writing. She is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance, mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and a lover of Jesus and chocolate. She resides in Asheville, North Carolina with her family.