Twelve Days of Completely Secular Yuletide: Arthur Christmas is a reminder of the true meaning of the holidays

Christmas is my favourite time of year. I always look forward to sitting in my cozy pyjamas with a cup of hot chocolate and spending time with the people I care about most.

As I’ve grown older, getting into the Christmas spirit has become more challenging. But there is one movie that always reminds me of what Christmas is supposed to be about.

Arthur Christmas takes a different approach to the traditional Santa Claus movie. If you're unfamiliar with it, this animated film follows Arthur Claus (voiced by James McAvoy), Santa's clumsy but compassionate son, who goes on a mission to deliver a present that was accidentally left behind. Arthur gets help from his grandfather, Grandsanta (Bill Nighy) and Bryony (Ashley Jensen), a high-tech elf who’s part of the gift wrap battalion, to deliver the single present.

At its core, Arthur Christmas challenges the conventional notion of Santa Claus by portraying him as part of a technologically advanced operation. In this version of Santa's workshop, Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent) and Steve Claus (Arthur's brother, head of North Pole mission control, voiced by Hugh Laurie) care more about hitting their delivery quota than the children.

Many of the traditional values of Christmas seem to be lost in this version of Santa. The family couldn't care less about the present left behind, because in their eyes, a single child does not matter in the grand scheme of things. But unlike the others, Arthur will stop at nothing to deliver the present and bring Christmas joy to the child.

I also think the animation style is wonderfully done. Arthur Christmas was made by Aardman Animations, who are best known for Flushed Away and Wallace and Gromit — both examples of their unique visual charm. The film's design has vibrant colours, and each character has an amusing, slightly exaggerated design, enhancing the whimsical feel of the story.

My favourite part of the film is how it explores the idea that the true magic of Christmas lies in selflessness and connecting with others, rather than the material aspects of the season. Amid the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s easy to forget that the essence of the season lies in genuine human connections and acts of kindness. After final exams, I find myself scrambling to get the best gifts possible, rather than focusing on small yet emotionally impactful gestures.

It's important to remind ourselves why we celebrate Christmas, and Arthur Christmas solidifies that reminder. We could all use a character like Arthur in our lives.