Christmas at the Potters’
Often arriving prematurely some time in October, there are a number of events that mark the lead up to Christmas. As red and gold wrapping paper battles Halloween masks and bonfire toffee for shelf-space, Starbucks unveil their Christmas cups and flavours and Coca Cola traverses the air-waves reporting that the holidays are coming, cinemas everywhere prepare for the latest Harry Potter instalment.
Although Half-Blood Prince suffered an almost perverse delay until summer, the franchise is back where it belongs for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I. In case you’re lagging, it’s November. With the first film no doubt once again scheduled for a Christmas Day airing in order to take the pressure off the denizens of Albert Square, the series is as inextricably linked to Christmas as Saw was to Halloween. As such, we have so far spent six Christmases at Hogwarts, and here is a seasonal run down of each.
Christmas 2001 (aka. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone)
After being ditched by Hermione to spend the holiday at Hogwarts, Ron and Harry crack out the home-made jumpers and wizard’s chess for a Christmas that makes Oliver Twist look pampered. That said, Hogwarts does look invitingly festive and the picturesque shots of snowy Scotland were clearly enough to earn the franchise an annual slot on the BBC.
Awarded three enchanted snowflakes out of five, the presents might lack magic but at least the central trio aren’t spending it at Mr. Weasley’s bedside.
Christmas 2002 (aka. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)
Drafted into luring Draco Malfoy’s henchmen in with cupcakes, only to use their extract to make Polyjuice potion, Harry, Ron and Hermione spend Christmas 2002 gagging in the girls toilets as they transform into their respective minions…and a cat. Although Harry receives a toothpick from his adoptive parents in the novel, they are left looking even stingier on the big screen.
Winning a grand-total of zero enchanted snowflakes, Christmas 2002 was hardly one to pen thank you cards over. After all, nobody likes working on a bank holiday.
Christmas 2004 (aka. Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban)
Failing to receive parental written permission to visit local village Hogsmeade on account of his being an orphan, Harry must use his cunning to escape the clutches of Hogwarts for a bit of Christmas shopping. Touring the local sweetshop, pelting his archnemesis with snowballs and – erm – discovering that a recently escaped maniac was responsible for the death of his parents, Christmas 2004 was a bit of a mixed stocking.
We’ll split the difference and call it three enchanted snowflakes.
Christmas 2005 (aka. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
Having already bested a dragon, and battling with a mysterious golden egg for clues to the second task in the movie’s Triwizard Tournament, Harry and his schoolmates take a break from the pressures of school for a Christmas dance. Attending the Yule Ball with date Parvati Patil, Harry is treated to punch, a performance by Jarvis Cocker and a venue straight out of Batman and Robin.
While not everything goes to plan – Hermione falls out with Ron and neither Harry nor Ron are speaking to their dates by parties end – the Yule Ball proves to be Christmas incarnate. Four out of five enchanted snowflakes. Come on, those mismatched socks from Dobby were to die for!
Christmas 2007 (aka. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)
Christmas 2007 was getting off to a good start. Having formed Dumbledore’s Army and, courtesy of the Room of Requirement’s cunning, enjoyed his first kiss with Cho Chang, Harry Potter was once again deprived of a uniformly successful Christmas when Voldermort’s pet snake took a chunk out of Ron’s dad, Arthur Weasley.
Although Mr. Weasley was checked out of hospital in time for Christmas morn, and even despite the nifty decorative icing-skating penguin, 2007 could have been better. Remember: we must not tell lies. Two enchanted snowflakes.
Christmas 2009 (aka. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)
Building up to the holiday season 2009, the traditional trip to Hogsmeade left Harry, Hermione and Ron tipsy with Butterbeer and trudging back to Hogwarts with barely a care in the world. That is, however, until Katie Bell touches a hexed bracelet and finds herself silent-screaming in the air. After an all-too brief interval from the threat as Harry and new love Ginny share an almost-kiss, the madness resumes as Voldermort’s favourite Bella Lestrange arrives on Christmas Eve to burn down the Weasleys’ house. A scene that was created especially for the movie, Bah Humbug to you too David Yates.
What was the purpose of this arbitrary list, you ask? While I haven’t actually thought of one yet, and race to change the subject, it is clear that watching Harry Potter to get your seasonal jollies is sheer madness. However, compared to Harry’s previous six Christmases, you can burn the turkey, fall out with your relatives and receive all the socks in the world and still console yourself with the fact that you never, not once, had to spend the day as Crabbe or Goyle.