Watching holiday-themed movies with family is a tradition many people cherish this time of year, and it’s why you can pretty much always find A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone, or Elf playing on rotation across a number of TV channels.
Those classic films are often curiously joined by The Sound of Music, a musical that unlike White Christmas has nothing to do with the holiday. After all, you won’t see a hint of snow until the Von Trapps hike across the Alps at the very end, and even then, they’re actually walking on green grass below snow-capped mountains.
So, what makes networks want to play the 1966 Best Picture winner in December? The answer is two-fold.
Why is The Sound of Music considered a Christmas movie?
Before DVDs and streaming services became the norm, the general population had to gather around a TV set at a specific hour in order to watch their favorite movies. Because families traditionally spend more time together during the holidays, networks would air family-friendly films in the lead-up to Christmas.
Given The Sound of Music’s G-rating (despite the plethora of scary Nazis that show up), the 174-minute drama was considered a safe option to air and one that people of all ages could enjoy. It also continues to be one of the most commercially successful films of all time, so TV execs know that it will always draw viewers.
"My Favorite Things" has been associated with Christmas since before the movie’s debut.
Fans may not recall that the stage version of The Sound of Music came five years before the film, so the beloved song "My Favorite Things," which Maria sings to the Von Trapp children, had already found an audience — albeit a small one.
In fact, Billboard reports that Julie Andrews performed the tune on a Garry Moore TV holiday special in 1961, which contributed to its rise as a Christmas song.
Plus, lyrics like, "Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes/Silver-white winters that melt into springs" and "Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens/Brown paper packages tied up with strings," certainly feed in to the holiday narrative.
Actress Angela Cartwright, who played Brigitta in the movie, said she doesn’t find the tune’s enduring connection to Christmas that odd. "This is the season of good tidings and blessings. Recalling one’s favorite things seems to make it the perfect song for this season," she told Billboard in 2017.
A few months before The Sound of Music hit theaters, "My Favorite Things" appeared on "The Jack Jones Christmas Album" in an effort to boost the song’s profile ahead of the film’s release.
Music producer Mickey Kapp revealed that a song plugger from The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization had asked him to record the ditty with one of his artists because "there wasn’t a hit song from the [stage] show."
Apparently, "they wanted something that would be as big as 'Maria' from West Side Story," the Grammy winner recalled. "The plugger said they were worried because this was such a big-budget movie and they thought having a hit song would help sell tickets."
We’d say the Julie Andrews version did just fine on its own.