First semester is finally over. No papers to write, no more classes to attend. Most college students like me now have a month to do whatever they want. Sleep, eat, enjoy the lack of academic pain. All of these and of course, celebrate, because Christmas is right around the corner.
I may have mentioned this before but I’ll say it again: Christmas is my favorite holiday. If you don’t like Christmas, I probably don’t trust you. The most interesting part about the holiday is the traditions. Some people have the same Christmas traditions, some have unique ones of their own. For example, mostly everyone who celebrates Christmas puts up a tree and decorates it with ornaments, lights, garland, etc. But not everyone goes to the Music Box’s Christmas Show like I do every year.
The Music Box is a theater in Chicago that opened in 1929. At this time, most movie palaces could hold around 3000 people but the Music Box could only seat 800. This is why it was considered so quaint and charming compared to its competition. About 39 years ago, the theater was used for a multitude of purposes whether it be Spanish films, Arabic films, or pornography. In 1983, The Music Box was reborn and reopened with a double feature format. Now they present a wide variety of independent and foreign films.
This year, The Music Box held their 33rd annual Christmas Double Feature & Sing Along. This is a 9 day long extravaganza in the month of December where the theater plays the classic movies White Christmas and It’s A Wonderful Life back to back. What makes it special, you ask? Within this Music Box tradition, there are even smaller traditions.
Every person who attends should be wearing something Christmas themed, preferably bright and obnoxious and they should have jingle bells on hand. Every year they play vintage shorts like Hardrock, Coco & Joe and Susie Snowflake before the movie begins. After this, Dennis Scott comes up to accompany the Music Box carolers on his organ. The carolers then welcome Santa Claus up onstage and everyone including the audience sings a collection of carols as loud as they can. When the songs end, Santa walks through the audience and throws candy. That’s when the movie begins. But you don’t watch this like any other movie.
I’ve only been to see It’s A Wonderful Life so I can’t tell you if White Christmas is like this, but It’s A Wonderful Life has certain audience traditions. Watching the movie is very interactive at the Music Box, but you have to know what to listen for. Whenever Clarence appears or whenever the word “angel” is spoken, the audience rings their bells. Whenever Mr. Potter appears, the audience hisses at him (he’s an evil, evil man). There’s plenty of other vocal traditions like this, including cheering for George whenever he tells off Potter or does something heroic.
It’s A Wonderful Life is not only one of my favorite Christmas movies, but one of my favorite movies of all time. My mom, sister, and I go to see it every single year. So far, we've done it six years in a row. We all hold the movie very dearly to our hearts and we can quote most of it. We tend to be the obnoxious people in the audience. I’m the one who cries every single time. At the top of this article is a short video montage I put together of our experience there this year. If you’re looking for new holiday tradition or just spots in Chicago for cool Christmas activities like this, check out the Music Box. You won’t regret it.
Video Music Credit: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by Daniela Andrade