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Father Christmas caught in the act in a 1937 prizewinning amateur film.

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A series of Christmas cards are shown in closeup. Two children send wishes up the chimney: they want Santa (Father Christmas) to bring them toys (shown in cutaways). Discovering how sooty the chimney is, the children lay down newspaper to stop Santa making a mess. The younger of the two rejects his own sock for a stocking - a larger one that belongs to his father. As the children sleep on Christmas Eve, their dreams are hinted at. Some of their wished-for toys appear momentarily. In the morning the boy discovers his stocking plan has backfired: he finds tobacco and a pipe intended for his father! The children creep downstairs to see if Santa has visited yet. Unfortunately they catch Santa (a shadow) during his delivery and run off terrified. Christmas morning arrives properly with the two children emptying stockings. Downstairs they find presents, including chocolates, a model bus and a doll (all revealed through a slow panning shot). They compose a thank you note to Santa.
The film then moves on to a children's party with dancing and games. The boys wear kilts and the girls dresses. They then sit for food, eating cake and ice cream. Waited on by maids they pull crackers. The film ends on a bedtime scene. The boy awakes from a nightmare crying. He wakes his sister who soon calms him, tempting him with a visit from a fairy if he falls asleep again. The pair are then shown asleep as a fairy dances over them.

Questions & Activities


  • What makes you think the children might be Scottish?
  • Who do the children meet when they go downstairs and how do they feel about it?
  • What do you think the shadow said to them? (You will need to use your imagination as the film is silent!)
  • How did the filmmaker make the shadow effects?
  • How did the filmmaker make the dancing fairy effect?
  • What games are played in the film? Do you recognise them?
  • Are any Christian beliefs shown in the film? Which customs and traditions are shown?


Present your favourite toy to a group. Who gave it to you? Why is it your favourite?

Prepare a class / school survey on favourite toys and present the results.

Investigate what materials make the best Christmas cracker. Make some samples then test them. What works best?

Design a healthy Christmas dinner menu (write or draw).

What foods would you include in a Scottish party menu? (write, draw, make a collage or a film)

Write a script with dialogue for the children's meeting with Santa.

Invent a new Christmas-themed party game. Write down the rules.

Using paper or your hands, make a Christmas themed shadow on the wall. Can you make your shadow move?

Research the historic links between shadow-play and cinema.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-004-069-C
Resource Rights Holder National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 1668
Date 1937
Genre Amateur
School Subject English, Religious and Moral Education, Technologies, Health and Wellbeing, Sciences
Subject Matter Literacy, Christmas, Customs, Traditions, Toys, Santa, Children, Games
Who Frank Marshall (director)
Where Glasgow
Event Christmas
Attributes Colour, Silent
Clip Length 13:51
Film Length 13:51