Si Shepherd makes fists with his toes...
I get quiet defensive when people claim that Die Hard is not a Christmas movie. Yes there are many films that are set at Christmas time that don't really embody the spirit of Christmas but Die Hard is not one of them. It is a modern day Christmas classic and deserves to sit amongst It's A Wonderful Life and How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and appear on everyone's essential Christmas viewing list.
Let's look at the facts. Die Hard takes place on Christmas Eve, and this is essential to the plot of the movie. Hans Gruber and his terrorists chose this date because the police would've been operating on a reduced staff, the FBI or any other notified Government departments are also likely to have a skeleton staff on call, and it would take them much longer than usual to respond. Not forgetting that many of the people called in to assist with the hostage situation were already likely to have finished work for the Holidays and would've possibly had a drink or two, reducing their judgement calls.
The Nakatomi Plaza itself would not be filled with people working late as most would've gone home for the holidays, if it had been overrun with staff then the terrorists would've struggled with crowd control and met more resistance. Yet because it is Christmas Eve, and a party is taking place, the important people they need are there and all in one place, plus they have a perfect small group of hostages which in theory would be easy to control.
So the Christmas setting is absolutely essential to the story, it adds a level of realism and back story to the terrorists actions, in that they have considered and planned their actions and execute them at the best possible time. But I understand that just setting a movie at Christmas does not make it a Christmas movie, so...
Die Hard is littered throughout with Christmas music, there are Christmas decorations and Christmas trees visable in multiple places, and John McClane is visiting L.A. to spend Christmas with his wife. The movie really starts with the traditional scenario of a person travelling to be with their loved one(s) for the holidays.
But the main proof that Die Hard is essentially a modern take on a traditional Christmas movie is that it is ultimately the tale of a Grinch (Hans Gruber), who along with his grinch-y friends attempt to ruin Christmas for a group of people. Our hero John McClane is a man who, just like George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life,
was very down and feeling like he was lost in life. But once McClane was truly faced with the
prospect of death he discovered that he actually wanted to live, he understood the
mistakes that he'd made in his marriage and set about fighting his way back from the brink so that
he could be with his family and make things right.
If that isn't the embodiment of a traditional Christmas movie then I don't know what is.