How the world gathers around the TV for the holidays


Television and the holidays go together like turkey and stuffing, like Santa and presents, like Times Square and a giant ball. Countries the world over have their own amazing TV holiday traditions so we thought we’d bring a few of them together for the latest Edgeware blog.

Let’s start at home shall we?


Every Christmas Eve – the day we traditionally celebrate Christmas, 3pm is when everything stops throughout the country. You make sure the cooking is done, the washing up is finished and you certainly don’t call anyone to wish them a happy holidays. This is because at the same time every year the country gathers around the box to watch Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul. This translates as ‘Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas’ and is in fact a Walt Disney Presents Christmas special, cartoonFrom All of Us to All of You from 1958.

The tradition dates way back to 1959 when the showing of the short Disney cartoons on Christmas Eve were the only chance to see popular animations on the one channel in Sweden. Now each year, a different host introduces the cartoons and a clip from the latest Disney film is added.

A similar tradition is seen across the Nordics with Denmark, Norway and Finland tuning in to Disney cartoons each year – but the content differs slightly to the programming in Sweden. Kalle Anka as it’s shortened, and known amongst most Swedes, is such an important event on the calendar that every year it attracts a massive 40-50% of the country’s television audience.



In the States, the holidays start slightly earlier than most – with Thanksgiving. One of the two big TV traditions on the tube on the fourth Thursday of November can be defined by the three Fs. Food, family and football.

Every year three games of NFL are played as Americans stuff themselves with Turkey and mashed potatoes. The first two are always hosted by the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys and have done so since the league’s inception in 1920. The third game was added to the annual schedule in 2006.

Fancy watching the classic 1983 film A Christmas Story? Not a problem – a US broadcaster plays the film from Christmas eve night, on repeat for 24 hours. It’s been aired since the late 80s and on 24 hour repeat since 1997 and is now aired on multiple Turner Broadcasting stations.

United Kingdom

It’s Christmas day, you’ve finished the biggest meal of the year – what else is there to do? Watch the Queen make a speech on the TV obviously.

The royal Christmas message has been a staple of BBC’s Christmas day television since 1957. Each year the British Monarch addresses the nation and speaks of cultural events or important moments from that year. The speech is broadcast in the UK at 3pm and then afterwards in New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

In the UK the tradition has more recently been twinned with an alternative Christmas message which is broadcast on the public-service broadcaster Channel 4. Every year a different celebrity or figure, from the likes of Marge Simpson to Edward Snowden, addresses the nation with the alternative message, broadcast at the same time as the Queen’s.



Julekalender – or Christmas calendar – is the tradition of a new 24-part TV series produced each year and has been a Danish staple since it was first broadcast in 1962. One episode is aired every day in December with the last one going out on Christmas Eve. Competing Danish channels DR and TV2 show different versions of Julekalender each year. The typical story line of the series follows a scrooge-esque character trying to ruin Christmas while the main character tried to save the holiday.

This is again a tradition that the Nordics have in common. Sweden has its own version – Julkalender – which follows a new story each year.



Dinner for one is a German-filmed version of the British play of the same name and has made quite the impression the world over. It’s broadcast on German television on New Year ’s Eve every year and has become so iconic to audiences that the phrase ‘same procedure as every year’ (in English) has become a popular catchphrase and is part of everyday vocabulary.

Across the world, Dinner for one has become a holiday period staple. It’s shown on television in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Switzerland and even South Africa. The short film has been played so many times in fact that it’s become the most frequently repeated TV programme ever.


What other TV traditions exist around the world? Get in touch by sending us details of what you watch every single year.










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