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Christmastime brings little joy to the poor of Victorian London. Cold and hungry, with no gifts to exchange, they cannot afford to stop work, even on Christmas Day. Life is like that for the Little Matchgirl. She roams the streets selling matches for a penny a bundle, and those pennies have to keep her and her ragged father. They have known better times; but her mother, a singer in the music halls, died when the Matchgirl was very young, and life has since treated her harshly.
Then, one day, she strikes one of her matches to keep warm and discovers in the flame a magic world. A world where she can go anywhere, and do anything… even fall in love.