It is no coincidence that Fanny och Alexander is scheduled as an end-of-year production. The opulent, magical Christmas festivities with which Bergman’s movie opens, makes it for many one of the most beautiful Christmas films of all time. The meticulous preparations at the Ekdahl house, the grandiose buffet, the perfect Christmas tree, the Nativity scene, the dances and authentic carols ("Nu är det Jul igen")... No wonder that, in Sweden, people still speak of a "Fanny och Alexander Christmas”.
According to Bergman himself, the origin of this Christmas scene can be traced back to a proposal by the Bavarian State Opera to direct Les contes d'Hoffmann: “Toward the end of the 1970s, I was supposed to direct Tales of Hoffmann at the Opera House in Munich. [...] In a short story written by Hoffmann there is a gigantic, magical room. It was that magical room I wanted to re-create on stage. [...] There is also an illustration from E. T. A. Hoffmann’s stories that had haunted me time and time again, a picture from The Nutcracker. Two children are quivering close together in the twilight of Christmas Eve, waiting impatiently for the candles on the tree to be lighted and the doors to the living room to be opened. It is that scene that gave me the idea of beginning Fanny and Alexander with a Christmas celebration.” (Images: My Life in Film, Faber and Faber, 1995)