LONDON - DECEMBER 01:  Characters from "The Snowman" theatre production perform in a dress rehearsal at the Peacock Theatre on December 1, 2008 London, England. "The Snowman" live stage show has been adapted from Raymond Briggs book of the same name and runs from December 3, 2008 till January 11, 2009.  (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
Why Raymond Briggs' The Snowman Has Become a Holiday Favorite in the United Kingdom
On Boxing Day 1982, Channel 4 staked its claim for a share of the holiday viewing in the United Kingdom with a premiere of "The Snowman," a beautifully animated version of the wordless children's book from Raymond Briggs. This nostalgic, silly, wondrous, and sad Oscar-nominated short has since become an instant classic and has aired every Christmas in the UK.
In the story "The Snowman," a little boy builds a snowman, and the snowman magically comes to life at midnight, setting off a series of adventures. While director Dianne Jackson and her animation crew added to Raymond Brigg's original story, the introduction, the flying scene, and the sad ending are what draw audiences year after year.
The undoubted highlight of "The Snowman" is the flying sequence as the boy and the snowman soar through the wintry skies. Along the way, they look down at the snow-covered landscape, encounter a whale in the icy North Sea, witness the aurora borealis, and arrive in the forests of Lapland in time for the party.
After his snowman adventures, the boy wakes up the following morning to find his snowman has melted in the sun and is heartbroken. The author was very matter-of-fact about this sad ending, saying, "I create what seems natural and inevitable. The snowman melts, my parents died, animals die, flowers die. Everything does. [...] It's a fact of life."
With so many memories associated with those family gatherings around Christmastime, "The Snowman" is not only entertaining for children but also hits a chord at a time of year when many of us are feeling wistful and nostalgic. This downbeat conclusion may be what brings us back to it year after year, for a nice kick in the feels after all the presents have been opened.