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The 3 most Christmassy 'Harry Potter' movies
Not every Harry Potter movie qualifies as a true Christmas movie, but these three certainly do.
By Ariadne Night
The giving season is upon us once more. Days are getting shorter, lights are starting to twinkle, and the good cheer is so abundant it’s almost enough to blunt the wounds in our depleting pockets. Yes, it’s the time of year when even the most fantastical of ideas seem possible, if only we’re good enough to wish for them. As we deck our halls and decorate our trees, however, there is perhaps no better way to embrace the holiday spirit than by indulging in the amuse-bouche of the Christmas season: A Harry Potter movie marathon.
Before we begin, a few parameters. To qualify as a good Christmas movie, the film in question should be clear in its tropes; that the rest of the year sucks and life is complicated, but on Christmas — so long as the powers of love, generosity, and a little bit of snow are on your side — anything is possible. In essence, a perfect Christmas movie should include (whether literally or metaphorically) at least two of the three aspects defined in the seminal classic I’ll be home for Christmas: snow, mistletoe, and presents under the tree. Thus, to end a popular argument, Die Hard isn’t a Christmas Movie. And, to possibly start another argument: Not all of the Harry Potter movies are.
Despite what the stans (a group to which, I’ll admit, I am a card-carrying member) would try and convince you, every return to Hogwarts doesn’t elicit the same holiday goodwill. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban literally melts through the winter season with no mention of Santa or gifts, and an elf gets stabbed to death and dies in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1. If one is to truly commit to a Harry Potter Christmas movie marathon, there should be no question about that movie firmly belonging in the Christmas canon, and by our established standards, fans of the boy wizard and his school days may be shocked to find that only three of eight Harry Potter movies make the cut. They are as follows:
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
This one almost goes without saying.
Neglected young wizard Harry Potter thinks the most haunting parts of his childhood are over when he’s accepted into the most exclusive wizarding school in the United Kingdom. He takes his new life in stride, even as the ashy evil wizard who killed his parents, a troll attack on Halloween, and his erratic man-child potions teacher all make his first term a bit of a doozy. In the first few months of wizardry, Harry is wealthy in new experiences: riding his first broom, casting his first spell, and — most importantly — celebrating his first Christmas.
With no family loving enough to treat him well on Christmas, the adults left in Harry’s life go above and beyond to make his first real Holiday a hell of a time. Who can forget the light on a young Harry’s face as he rounds the corner of his dormitory and finds a giant present-laden tree waiting for him? How shocked he is when Ron assures him that most of those gifts had his name on them. “I’ve got presents?” That’s snow and presents under the tree right there. Add in the fact that one of the presents, a sentimental piece of his late father becomes a necessary tool for victory against Lord Voldemort at the end of the movie and you have a bonafide Christmas romp.
2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Years after his joyous first Christmas (and a host of other traumas and plot points), we meet a far angstier Harry in a moment of grief. The return of He Who Must Not be Moisturized at the end of Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire is bummer enough without the entire government spending tax galleons on a smear campaign so salacious it could’ve been used as promo for a diss track. Lucky, though, that the love of his friends and a healthy dose of hope are all he needs to bring joy back to the world, especially if the famous Room of Requirement has anything to offer.
Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix is the epitome of a coming-of-age Christmas movie. It checks off all three boxes of our rubric — literal shots of snow, mistletoe, and presents under the tree — but it’s the essence of Christmas that really shines through. For Santa’s sake, Harry has his first kiss under a magically appearing sprig of mistletoe! If that’s not prime Christmas magic right there, I don’t know what is. Lest we not forget, either, that it was around Christmastime that Harry had his premonition of Mr. Weasley being attacked by Nagini the snake, and it was on Christmas day itself that the red-headed father of six returned home from the hospital in time for presents and pudding. Amidst the grief and complications that have happened in the movie up to this point, Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix is an embodiment of the hope and wonder necessary to make a regular Christmas movie a classic.
3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Our final entry to the list finds Harry in a bit of a different place than we’ve ever seen him before. After the promising potential of a date is interrupted by Dumbledore dangling him like a carrot to recruit the self-important Horace Slughorn back to Hogwarts, Harry finds himself in the midst of an espionage mission for the missing pieces to Voldy’s history. A mission that will cost him everything.
I’ll admit this movie almost didn’t make the cut. The strange green overlay is closer to a Slytherin dungeon than Santa’s workshop in terms of ambiance and Dumbledore dying (is that a spoiler after all these years?) is not really all that holly joly. However, before Snape goes all Grinch on Dumbledore, most of the movie takes place in the winter season. There’s ample snow. Horace Slughorn’s Christmas party bears the perfect backdrop for a host of angsty teens to literally dance around their complicated feelings for each other. Invitations are limited, the weather is frightful, and the butterbeer never stops flowing. Love and good cheer abound. For Christmas itself, Harry returns to the Weasley family home, where he and Ginny find themselves with the excellent opportunity to share a few sweets and a few more sordid looks. When the forces of darkness inevitably attack the Weasley home (do they have no Christmas spirit?) the family bands together with the magic of love and manages to kick them out for the holidays. Sure, they set the house on fire in the process, but what’s a fire but the ultimate twinkly light (stay safe this holiday season).
Sad though it may be, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has it all: A little snow, some love, and a Christmas Party awkward enough to put every office holiday party to shame. It makes the cut, if only just.
Ultimately, whether you’re an avid Harry Potter fan, a holiday-watcher, or have never seen them, we can all agree that a true Christmas movie is clear in its understanding of what this season brings: an opportunity to cultivate the love that has been sustained all the year. And, as Dumbledore would say “if there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love.”
All the Harry Potter movies are currently streaming on Peacock.