The Weekly Moviegoer - What Are Your Moviegoing Traditions?

November 24, 2009

Holiday Cinema

The other day a friend was telling me about her Thanksgiving plans, which include the annual post-feast trip to the movies with her parents and siblings. She's an adult, yet she continues to follow this tradition of moviegoing that has been regular practice since she was a kid. And of course she's not a rare grown-up to be holding onto such tradition. Millions of Americans will always follow the first half of their Thanksgiving and Christmas rituals with a visit to the multiplex.

One thing that I love about the sustainability of moviegoing is that it's so rooted in tradition. The holiday moviegoing custom shared by many is a good example of this, as it's such an institution in people's lives that it will likely endure all threats to the movie theater industry because it seems to carry on in a cyclical nature. One day my friend may be married with children, and she'll probably introduce her kids to the practice of moviegoing on Thanksgiving, and they'll keep it going into adulthood and pass it on to their own children, and so on.

Personally, I can't understand the desire for people to go to the movies on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but that's probably because while employed in the industry, I worked these holidays annually for about a decade. Witnessing the massive crowds throughout these days, while barely having time to eat my own plate of cold leftovers (always graciously brought to me by a friend or coworker's family), I've seen the worst of holiday moviegoers.

Yet year after year of participating in this ritual on the audience side, I'd imagine these holiday moviegoers have also had some terrible experiences. Sell-outs, shoving, yelling, lack of poise and orderliness on the part of the overworked and underpaid concession staff, projection problems courtesy of flustered projectionists, and so on. These are some of the busiest days of the year for cinemas and are therefore the least comfortable and accommodating to individual customers, but due to ritual, people return to the madness every year. Seemingly with less patience than the year before.

Then again, I have my own stupid moviegoing customs. Partly because of the way I saw movies as a kid and into adulthood, I always have to eat popcorn at the movies, regardless of all the reminders of how bad it is for me. I also habitually pick up trash, mine and other people's, on the way out of a theater thanks to all those years as a movie theater employee (plus, I like to set an example for the rest of you slobs). But these aren't exactly traditions that will be passed on to my children in the same way that holiday moviegoing and other rituals are.

Are they really about tradition and ritual, though? Some might argue the holiday moviegoing practice is merely about getting out of the house. And since cinemas are pretty much the only places open (save for some bars, but those aren't as family friendly), and it's typically cold this time of year, they're the only possible destination anyway. If some other indoor, out of the home, place of recreation (preferably passive recreation, since you're stuffed) were available, moviegoing might not be as big a deal.

Either way, though, it's not likely that holiday moviegoing will ever be replaced with holiday DVD watching for a lot of these folks, because home entertainment still allows for too much continued interaction with the family. And nobody wants that.

What are your moviegoing traditions, on the holidays and otherwise? And how long have they been a regular practice?

Movie theater photo courtesy of Joits on Flickr.

Find more posts: Discuss, Editorial



I usually jagoff right after I eat.

pape on Nov 24, 2009


My family and I always see a film in the evening on Christmas day. I think it'll either be Invictus or Avatar this year.

sean on Nov 24, 2009


My movie ritual is as follows: 1. Always go to the same National Amusements Multiplex (unless the movie isn't playing there) 3. Show up an 1 1/2 hours before so I can get lunch or dinner (depending on the time) at the food court (my regular theater is in a mall) 4. Hit the head before going into the theater 5. No concession snacks, EVER!! I hate the urge to go to the bathroom during the movie 6. Always sit 3 to 4 rows from the back for optimal viewing 7. Always sit in the center of the row 8. Usually go alone

Merrill on Nov 24, 2009


Merrill... I'll go with you. we can spend christmas in the multiplex together

El Hoopso on Nov 24, 2009


the whole going by myself thing is by choice not because of lack of option.

Merrill on Nov 24, 2009


The only thing I have that's really a tradition is I tend to get a sprite or something similar for a comedy, and a root beer or coke or something not clear if it's anything but a comedy.

D on Nov 24, 2009


That's an interesting one, D. Can you explain why you get different kinds of soda for comedy than non-comedy? Or is it just a ritual that you've always just done and don't know the source of?

Christopher Campbell on Nov 24, 2009


My tradition doesn't involve the movie theatre, but every year we pick a film or two to watch until the morning. We used to do it as children, unable to sleep because of the excitement of Christmas morning. Now it's just ritual. (Plus an excuse for the girlfriend to stay over when I was younger.) It's usually an action flick though. 'Die Hard', 'Training Day', 'Four Brothers', though we managed to squeeze 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?' in there as well.

Adriano on Nov 24, 2009


Seriously? Not everything revolves around the cinema. Maybe at home with family after eating some dinner but does everything have to involve spending loads of money?

Tra la la la la di da on Nov 24, 2009


We will not see anything related to Twi-"lite" this Holiday.

Clover on Nov 25, 2009


The reason Families go to the movies on the holidays is because its a way to spend time with the family without actually spending time with them if ya catch my drift. its all subconscious of course!

ha1rball on Nov 25, 2009


I go to a movie on Christmas Eve day ... this will be 32 straight years.

Hilander on Nov 26, 2009


Our "movie" tradition during the Christmas holidays was always to go the cinema on New Years Day in the afternoon. Tickets would always be half price, cause most people didn't bother to get out of their beds until late in the day. As we grew older though (and stayed up later at New Years parties) that tradition kind of fell apart.

Melinda Seckington on Nov 26, 2009

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