At 3 o’clock in the afternoon of every December 24 for the past 64 years, seemingly everybody in Sweden drops whatever they are doing, turns on their TV and sits back, transfixed by the annual broadcast of the American 1958 Walt Disney Presents Christmas special, “From All of Us to All of You.”
The show, dubbed in Swedish, is called “Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul” -- “Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas.” It’s known simply as Kalle Anka (Donald Duck), for short.
Just how important is it for Swedes to observe this unusual holiday cartoon-watching tradition? Slate.com’s Jeremy Stahl summed it up in 2009 after a Christmas visit to Sweden, “You do not tape or DVR Kalle Anka for later viewing. You do not eat or prepare dinner while watching Kalle Anka. Age does not matter—every member of the family is expected to sit quietly together and watch a program that generations of Swedes have been watching for 50 years. Most families plan their entire Christmas around Kalle Anka, from the Smörgåsbord at lunch to the post-Kalle visit from Jultomten [Santa].”
The 65-year-old Disney special is typically the country’s most-viewed television program every year. Last year, 3,411,000 Swedes tuned in to watch – over one-third of the country’s population.
The program has aired each Christmas Eve in Sweden since 1960 on the public broadcasting TV1 channel, without commercial interruption. It is hosted live every year by a well-known TV personality.
In the show, the Jiminy Cricket character introduces a dozen vintage Disney cartoons from the 1930s-1960s (only two of which have a Christmas theme) and clips from classic Disney animated movies like “Cinderella,” “Snow White, and the Seven Dwarfs,” and “The Jungle Book,” plus a few animated shorts. Donald Duck stars in one short called “Clown of the Jungle,” a 1947 cartoon in which Donald is visiting the jungle to photograph rare birds and is driven nuts by the eccentric Aracuan Bird.
Unlike how Americans enjoy watching classic movies on TV around the holidays, such as “It’s A Wonderful Life,” or “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” the Christmas Eve rite of watching Kalle Anka by Swedish audiences is more of a traditional shared experience that brings everybody together, around the country on the same day, at the same time, to savor the nostalgic Disney Christmas show.
Kalle Anka viewing became such a popular event due to the fact that by 1960, TV sets had become affordable luxuries for Swedish families, and with only one station to watch, the Christmas Eve Disney presentation on TV1 was a unique entertainment. The original show was done in black and white, but newer airings have included colorized segments.
Watching this original Disney TV Christmas cartoon special, with added content, has also become a special holiday tradition in other countries, including Finland, Norway, Russia, and France.
In the U.S., the “From All of Us to All of You” TV special aired at various times during the holidays through the 1970s. Different promos for soon-to-be-released Disney movies were tacked on at the end of the show each year.
Here is the 1995 Swedish broadcast version of “From All of Us to All of You” as hosted by the beloved Swedish TV star Arne Weise:
And click HERE to watch a fan restoration of the 1960 American broadcast of “From All of Us to All of You” at the Internet Archive.
Photos: Walt Disney Productions
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