My Christmas spirit has been somewhat slow in coming this year. So much so that Christmas is less than a week away and I still don’t have really any at all. I have tried every way imaginable of resolving this – right now as I type this I’m wearing a jumper with a massive reindeer on the front, looking at a Christmas tree, eating a piece of marzipan and listening to Michael Buble sing White Christmas. And still not even a tingling of Christmas spirit.
Time to bring out the big guns – the combined power of books and a list. I set about compiling a list of my ten favourite Christmassy reads.
The first problem was that I could only think of eight to put on the list. The second was that six of those eight were Harry Potter novels. So I dropped all pretences and turned it into a simple ranking of Harry Potter Christmases – from enchanted mirrors all the way to enchanted corpses.
It also gave me an excuse to reread all the Harry Potter Christmas scenes which demonstrated the flaw in my logic. This hasn’t in anyway improved my festive spirit, only made me feel like a Christmas failure. My Christmas will involve no singing suits of armour, no roaring fires, no hand knitted Mrs Weasley jumper. The closest we ever come to snow is a bit of light drizzle. And my one fake Christmas tree pales in comparison to Hogwarts’ twelve freshly cut ones.
So proceed with caution and only if your Christmas spirit is truly unshakable.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Hermione raised her wand, moved it in a circle through the air and a wreath of Christmas roses blossomed before them. Harry caught it and laid it on his parent’s grave.
Unless nothing gets you in the Christmassy spirit like disembowelled corpses and giant snakes then I’d leave this one aside when you’re looking for a festive pick-me-up.
6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Dumbledore led them in a few of his favourite carols, Hagrid booming more and more loudly with every goblet of eggnog he consumed.
This Christmas did not stick in my mind at all. I had to really hunt through the book to find it, rather than knowing immediately which chapter was The Christmas Chapter. Turns out, the Polyjuice Potion is taken on Christmas day and transforming into Crabbe, Goyle or Millicent Bulstrode’s cat (and if I had to choose I’d go for the cat) would not be my choice for how to celebrate the occasion. All of the actually Christmas related bits – carol singing, turkey eating, snowball fighting – are condensed down to two pages. No wonder I couldn’t remember it.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
‘You try putting up tinsel when Peeves has got the other end and is trying to strangle you with it.’
What is it with JK Rowling, Christmas and snake related incidents? I’d hate to spend Christmas at her house (actually, no I wouldn’t, how amazing would that be?!). The actual Christmas day in Order of the Phoenix redeems it slightly; there’s some lighthearted moments which are a rare find in this book of doom and despair. But I just can’t get past the scene in the hospital with Neville’s parents. It is without a doubt one of the best scenes in the whole series – it added a whole new dimension to Neville’s character and JK Rowling’s writing – but it certainly doesn’t leave you in a festive mood. Although I would like to know where I can get my own stock of Dobby’s ‘Have a very Harry Christmas’ baubles.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
A powerful and delicious smell of cooking pervaded the corridors, and by Christmas Eve, it had grown so strong that even Scabbers poked his nose of the shelter of Ron’s pocket to sniff hopefully at the air.
Harry gets a Firebolt, Harry gets a Firebolt, HARRY GETS A FIREBOLT. The greatest start imaginable to any Christmas day – what could be better than the gift of flying?! But between them Hermione and Ron manage to ruin it pretty quickly by bickering; first over Crookshanks and then over the gift-giver. Squabbles may be a Christmas tradition in real life but not at Hogwarts, no thank you. And once Professor Trelawney starts predicting Harry’s death any remaining Christmas spirit has definitely bitten the dust.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Weasleys and their guests were sitting in the living room, which Ginny had decorated so lavishly that it was rather like sitting in a paper-chain explosion.
This is probably the most muggle-ish of all Christmas in all the books. First they go to an office party and make awkward small talk, then they spend a whole scene peeling sprouts, suffer a tense atmosphere because of a disagreement over what to listen to on the radio, receive presents they really really don’t want (but as Harry says, I’d still rather have the two maggots than Lavendar’s necklace) and get a forced visit from a relative. Sounds like every Christmas I’ve ever had.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
‘Will you look at this? I’ve got some presents!’
‘What did you expect, turnips?’
As this was the very first time we were introduced to a Hogwarts’ Christmas JK Rowling really went to town with her descriptions, particularly of the food. I could really make a dent on a mountain of the Hogwarts’ house elves’ finest roast potatoes. Oh and there’s also that stuff with the Mirror of Erised, which is nice and all, but really I’d rather talk about the food.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
It was quite something to hear ‘Oh Come, All Ye Faithful’ sung by an empty helmet that only knew half the words.
This is without a doubt the best Christmas. It hits all the right notes. Twelve Christmas trees, one hundred turkeys, a snowball fight and a Hermione highlight. Oh and it features Dobby. Full marks on all counts.