The phrase White Christmas may be understood in several different ways.
A White Christmas, to most people in the northern hemisphere, refers to snowy weather at Christmas, a phenomenon which is far more common in some countries than in others. For example, in most of the UK, snow is rarely experienced at Christmas except in the mountains.
The song, "White Christmas", by Irving Berlin, was first sung by Bing Crosby in the 1942 musical, Holiday Inn, and, when released as a record, sold over 30 million copies, making it the best-selling recording of all time. The song was re-used as the title theme of the 1954 musical film, White Christmas, which starred Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney.
Filming of White Christmas took place between September and November 1953. The movie was the first to be filmed in the new VistaVision process and its Technicolor format has ensured that it has had a long shelf life on TV, Video and DVD. The movie White Christmas was released in 1954 and became the leading box-office draw of 1954.
The movie was supposed to reunite Crosby and Fred Astaire for their third Irving Berlin extravaganza of song and dance (the first two being Holiday Inn (1942) and Blue Skies (1946)). However, Astaire bowed out after reading the script. Donald O'Connor was selected to replace Astaire, but he, too, had to pass because of a back injury. O'Connor was replaced by Danny Kaye.
The story is basically this: Two World War II Army buddies (Bing and Danny) go into show business together, become the hottest act around and later combine to save the a holiday inn run by their former general in Pinetree, Vermont. Along the way, Bing and Rosemary Clooney fall in love as do Danny and Vera-Ellen.
Bing's single of "White Christmas" sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and was recognized as the best-selling single in any music category for more than 50 years until 1998 when Elton John's tribute to Princess Diana, "Candle in the Wind," overtook it in a matter of months. However, Bing's recording of "White Christmas" has sold additional millions of copies as part of numerous albums, including his best-selling album Merry Christmas, which was first released as an LP in 1949.
The most familiar version of "White Christmas" is not the one Crosby originally recorded for Holiday Inn in 1942. Bing was called back to the Decca studios on March 19, 1947, to re-record "White Christmas" as a result of damage to the 1942 master due to its frequent use. Every effort was made to reproduce the original Decca recording session, once again including the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers. The resulting re-issue is the one that has become most familiar to the public.