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Christmas legends, myths and magic

Monday, December 23, 2013

In 1947, a very special and very short Christmas book hit the book stores: Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies. Believing in the magic of books as much as children believe in the magic of Santa, the publishers of this little book rushed a print run of 400,000 copies so The Miracle on 34th Street would be released simultaneously with the film, known in England as The Big Heart. This time Hollywood got it right. 


A modern Kris Kringle story, Miracle on 34th Street told the tale of an old man who escapes from an old people’s home and claims he is Santa. Eventually, Mr Kringle appears in court fighting his independence and the magic of Christmas. Natalie Wood played the part of Susan, the wide-eyed child who refused to abandon her belief in Santa or her faith in Mr Kringle. Wood would grow up to be one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, even appearing in the musical West Side Story as Maria.  


Miracle on 34th Street became a timeless, Christmas movie classic. There have been other attempts to capture the essence of Christmas. In 1966, Hollywood made a movie out of Truman Capote’s Christmas short story A Christmas Memory. It was a far cry from Capote’s most famous book, In Cold Blood, the story of two men who go on a murdering spree, but Capote’s Christmas memory garnered its own praise. When it comes to Christmas reading, Charles Dickens sets the bar very high with A Christmas Carol.


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