Donald Fauntleroy Duck is an animated character created by Walt Disney as a foil to Mickey Mouse. He made his screen debut on June 9, 1934, in The Wise Little Hen. But did you know that the Swedes can’t celebrate Christmas Eve without Donald?
Every Christmas Eve at around 3 PM, Sweden’s main channel broadcasts the 1958 special “Donald Duck and His Friends Wish You a Merry Christmas on Christmas Eve”. Swedes are so captivated by the cartoon that cell data usage drops drastically during the program.
Who is Donald Duck?
Donald Fauntleroy Duck is depicted as a pompous, showboating duck dressed in a sailor suit, cap, and bow tie. His most defining characteristic is his fiery temper, which manifests itself primarily through explosive tantrums and fits of quacking and squawking.
Much of Donald’s rage stems from his horrible luck, even though his misfortunes are frequently the karmic result of his arrogance and greed. (Source: Disney Fandom)
There is No Christmas in Sweden without Donald Duck
The Christmas star in Sweden has a yellow bill, a fiery temper, and no pants.
Every country has its own set of festive holiday customs. Children in Austria fear Krampus, the half-goat, half-demon who beats misbehaving children with sticks. Catalan nativity scenes include a defecating man. In Sweden, on Christmas Eve, roughly 40% of the population gathers around the squawk box to watch Donald Duck.
Every year since 1959, at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve, the 1958 special Kalle Anka och Hans vänner önskar God Jul or Donald Duck and His Friends Wish You a Merry Christmas, in English is screened on Sweden’s main public television channel, TV1. Known in English as From All of Us to All of You, this hour of Disney mayhem is hosted by Jiminy Cricket, who leads viewers through about a dozen Christmas cards that open to reveal shorts, film clips, and other cartoons dating from the 1930s through the 1960s.
Sweden had only two channels for decades; this was the only time of year when people could watch Disney animation or American cartoons on television. And the custom endured. Swedes are so captivated by the cartoon that cell data usage dropped 28%, and calls to emergency services dropped 16% during the program in 2016.
However, there are a few local twists. A host presents it live, dressed as Uncle Walt from the original Walt Disney Presents series, and a clip from a recent Disney-produced film is included. The show’s cultural significance cannot be overstated, writes Jeremy Stahl of Slate, who watches it with his wife’s Swedish family. You don’t record or DVR Kalle Anka for later viewing, and you don’t eat or prepare dinner while watching Kalle Anka. The audience’s silence is only broken by reciting favorite lines or bursts of laughter.
As a result, the soft, angry glow of a barely audible duck has taken on the role of the fire around which people have long gathered to hear stories they’ve heard a hundred times before. Charlotte Hagstrom, a professor of ethnology at Lund University, stated this.
It’s not really that the films are so good, It’s more like it’s a ritual to sit down with your family every year at the same time watching the same films.Charlotte Hagstrom, Professional of Ethnology, Lund University
(Source: Atlas Obscura)