With the holidays and colder weather approaching, it is the perfect time to sit back and relax. This winter season, spend some time exploring all the secrets, miracles and traditions of Christmas with these 12 documentaries. They’ll take you through what you think you may know about the holiday but add an exciting twist. Here are the best Christmas documentaries to watch—from indescribable miracles and heartwarming stories to truly shocking tales.
1. Dreams of Life (2011)
The death of a young woman during the holidays was never resolved, but as time passed, new discoveries were found and linked back to her. These changed everything, reopening the case, and leading to the discovery that the holiday season had covered up some darker secrets. “Dreams of Life” is definitely a mind-blowing documentary worth a watch, especially around Christmas time.
2. Christmas Under Fire (1941)
This Christmas short depicts a holiday scene spent against the societal backdrop of war. It’s a brief documentary meant to show viewers that not every Christmas season has been easy. Christmas was still celebrated during times of world distress in the 1940s.
3. Christmas Unwrapped: The History of Christmas (1997)
A very factual and informative breakdown of the backstory of this beloved holiday, delivered by the History Channel. This documentary will educate you on the facts and fictions of Christmas that we experience each year, as told from the point of view of historians.
4. What Would Jesus Buy? (2007)
This documentary attempts to take the commercial out of Christmas through a road trip. Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir set out on the mission to deliver the message of what is going on across America: the sweatshops, overproduction of goods and loss of spirit during the holiday season.
5. The Real Story of Christmas (2010)
“The Real Story of Christmas” reveals the truth behind America’s favorite Christmas traditions. Today, we are familiar with the commercial awe of the lights, the tree, foods, and gift-giving, but this Christmas special takes you back to when it all happened for the first time.
6. Making Christmas Crackers (1910)
This short video focuses on factory workers making Christmas cookies, gathering with family around the tree and spending time with Santa Claus. It’s a historical snapshot meant to show a “behind the scenes” look at what prepping for Christmas was like more than 100 years ago. In a time of early television, this was an opportunity to educate viewers with a simple look into the holiday.
7. Becoming Santa (2011)
The documentary follows a man named Jack that alters his whole lifestyle to become Santa Claus. He finds himself learning about the benefits of “believing” during the holiday season. Jack shows he’s determined to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in doing everything from bleaching his hair to going to Santa school. Jack even finds himself making home visits, collecting children’s Christmas wishes and so much more!
8. Jingle Bell Rocks! (2013)
This Christmas documentary is a mashup of alternative Christmas music. It’s a backstage pass that will expose you to various original songs, updated to have an entirely different holiday vibe. The artists even address social and global issues through their music. In the end, I can guarantee you’ve never heard Christmas tunes like these before, making this one of the best Christmas documentaries.
9. The Secret Santa (2014)
There have been many reports of Christmas miracles, enough so that an eager journalist decided to dig a little deeper and do some research. Eventually, she is intrigued by some unexplainable incidents that have gone on during the holiday season. The people who witnessed these events reported that they cannot explain what happened. This documentary goes through each “Christmas miracle” to establish who or what is behind them all.
10. I Am Santa Claus (2014)
The narrative of this documentary follows five men for the whole year to see what their lives are like while working as professional Santa Clauses. Playing the role of Santa Claus has become part of who they are, so much so, that they keep up the spirit of the holidays all year long.
11. Tree Man (2015)
Francios travels to New York from Quebec every year to sell Christmas trees during the holiday season. But this story isn’t just about the trees; follow Francios as he truly defines what it means to spread Christmas joy. The film is about his family, his journey to the city, the people he meets and the character he plays. This is a different kind of Christmas documentary that truly displays the power of giving.
12. Casting JonBenét (2017)
JonBenét Ramsey was taken from her family on Christmas Eve. She was a six-year-old beauty queen. Never truly solved, the murder case went cold. As a result, evidence was reevaluated after almost 20 years. This breakdown of JonBenét’s murder is revealed against the backdrop of the events and traditions that followed the Christmas Eve party her family attended. Later on, police focus on the events that conspired on Christmas day. The best (albeit twisted) to watch over the holidays.
Let us know below what you would add to our list of the best Christmas documentaries to watch in 2020.
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Very nice article. You might also want to include Stalking Santa (2006), a mockumentary about a guy who is obsessed with proving the existence of Santa Claus. The unseen narrator and interviewer is William Shatner.