As heartfelt and cozy as Hallmark's annual lineup of Christmas movies is, the term "white Christmas" usually applies to more than just the films' picturesque settings. The holiday stories have never been the most diverse, but this year's seasonal schedule includes several movies with black leads, and Hallmark's parent company already has plans to be even more representative next December. Hallmark Hanukkah movies will air in 2019, so you have another thing to be thankful for during this year's Jewish Festival of Lights.
Although Netflix has readily entered the holiday movie-making game, the Hallmark Channel remains the top provider of our annual festive cheer. Between the regular Hallmark brand and its separate Movies & Mysteries channel, the network's 2018 holiday schedule includes 37 new original movie premieres, and four of these new Christmas movies star African-Americans. More racial representation in your cheesy yet delightful holiday flicks is much needed and it looks like we're finally seeing some results, but Hallmark's next move is to celebrate one of the holidays often overshadowed by Christmas.
According to Hallmark's parent company Crown Media, the network will develop two Hanukkah-themed movies for the 2019 holiday lineup. Speaking about one of the films, tentatively named Holiday Date, a company spokeswoman said the project "[has] Hanukkah elements... which is a lot of fun as Hanukkah and Christmas overlap in 2019."
Clearly taking the slow and steady path to covering this new territory, Hallmark has produced content featuring Hanukkah before, but the eight-night celebration has previously shared the limelight with Christmas. In 2012's Hitched for the Holidays, a man and a woman posing as a couple to please their families faced a complicated holiday season when his Catholic family and her Jewish relatives came together. We can assume that next year's Hanukkah movies will focus exclusively on the Jewish holiday rather than introduce a Romeo and Juliet-esque romance, but we should definitely expect the same fluffy feeling a Christmas movie always ignites inside us.
In an interview, Michelle Vicary, Crown Media's executive vice president for programming and publicity, said:
When people use the word 'predictable,' often it’s thought of as a negative, but for us, there is a positive notion to it. People know when they come to Hallmark that the promise that they will feel a little better about themselves or about their community or about life, in general, is a promise we make. We hope that we deliver on that after they have decided to spend two hours watching a movie.
To be fair, a predictable Hanukkah movie doesn't really exist yet, but wouldn't it be great if Hallmark eventually makes so many that we can rightfully use that phrase? At the end of the day, Hallmark putting its stamp on the holiday will ensure a sweet romance you can play in the background as you wrap presents or prepare a holiday feast.
As for which diverse Christmas movies you can catch on TV this year, there are still two upcoming premieres to mark on your calendars. Starring Christina Milan as a woman raised by a Christmas-obsessed mother, Memories of Christmas debuts on Dec. 8 on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Tia Mowry-Hardrict then stars on the Hallmark Channel in Dec. 16's A Gingerbread Romance as an architect who joins a gingerbread-building contest. While I plan out my live-tweeting schedule for these films, here's to the possibility of love growing over latke-making competitions and dreidel games on Hallmark next year.