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Holiday commercials typically tap into tradition to pull the heartstrings and share messages of love, joy and peace at this special time of year. One of those warm scenes that’s constantly revisited during Christmas is that of Santa Claus flying down from the North Pole.
For its annual Christmas commercial — which is more like a short film — the Norwegian postal service (known there as Posten) decided to add a timely twist to the Santa story that we’ve all heard a million times. In recognition of the upcoming 50th anniversary of Norway’s decriminalization of homosexuality, this year’s ad gives the iconic figure a boyfriend.
The four-minute spot, titled “When Harry Met Santa,” tells the story of a man named Harry, who accidentally stumbles upon Santa delivering his Christmas gifts one year. The pair exchange a quick but meaningful glance before Father Christmas disappears up the chimney and onto his next roof.
Over the course of the ad, the audience watches as the connection between Harry and Santa grows with each yearly visit. Harry goes out of his way to make himself and his home look extra special for his Christmas Eve visitor. We also see Santa take extra time to get to know Harry through conversation and glances around his house.
But, as time goes by, Harry gets more upset at the idea of only seeing Santa once a year. He cries at night missing the person he loves. So, Harry writes a special letter to Santa telling him what he truly wants for Christmas that year.
“Dear Santa,” we see him write. “All I want for Christmas is you.”
On Christmas Eve, Harry can be seen waiting expectantly for Santa. Will he get his wish? You have to watch the full short film to find out! You can do that below with English subtitles for the non-Norwegian speakers.
Posten’s marketing director, Monica Solberg, told LGBTQ Nation that this year’s ad was a departure from its typically humorous takes on the holiday season.
“It has been a dark year for everyone – a global pandemic, code red for our planet, refugee crisis and more,” Solberg told the website. “Perhaps what we need this year is a warm and heartfelt love story? A celebration of the fact that we can love whomever we want in Norway, despite everything bad that happens around the world.”
The video went viral on YouTube, where the English-subtitled version already has more than 1 million views after only four days online. The reaction to the spot has been mixed, with supporters embracing the message of inclusion and critics accusing the postal service of politicizing a holiday icon.
Solberg denied that position to LGBTQ Nation, saying the organization “never stops renewing itself” and that was the goal of the commercial’s message.
“The right to love whoever you want is a fundamental human right, and is not considered a political issue in free democratic societies in 2021,” Solberg said. “Norway Post has connected people for 375 years, and will continue to do so regardless of orientation or gender identity.”