This article first appeared on Metro.co.uk
It used to be Indiana Jones.
Every year I’d burrow my way through my Christmas dinner, then very politely ask if I could be excused from the kitchen table to watch my hero.
In 1987, the BBC trailed their Christmas Day showing of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom so heavily that the film was simply unavoidable.
It was the biggest event in Britain’s history – or, at least, it was to me.
Looking back from an internet age where access to any movie is a finger-tap away, it all feels remarkably quaint. I felt privileged to watch a film at home only THREE YEARS after it had been released in cinemas.
And it was only Temple of Doom! Not even Raiders of the Lost Ark or Last Crusade.
Indiana Jones used to be my staple diet at Christmas, and while he still remains a healthy side dish, he has been replaced as the main turkey course by another hero: Harry Potter.
Christmas just isn’t Christmas without at least one visit to Hogwarts – the amount of snow that falls across the entire Harry Potter saga could be used to solve the Arctic’s climate change crisis.
The world of Potter is a wintry one, even though only four of the eight films in the series were actually released in November – the other half were given a date in either May or July.
But which of the movies gives Potter fans the cosiest Christmas feeling inside?
8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
You do know what happens in this one, right? There’s little time for Christmas cheer when people are perishing in battle and Hogwarts is being reduced to rubble.
The sparks from Harry and Voldemort’s wand fight kind of remind me of festive lights (and Return of the Jedi), but that’s about it.
Amazing film, though.
7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
This is more like it. While a terrible, terrible film, Chamber of Secrets does bring out the big Christmas guns.
A fleet of horse-drawn carriages ploughing a furrow across a white carpet of snow in a bid to out-Narnia Narnia? You got it.
And what about some indoor drift down the Great Hall of Hogwarts? Here, have some of that.
6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The pink cardie sported by the terrifying Dolores Umbridge looks like something your gran would grab you from M&S for Christmas, but think of all the blood she has spilled on it over the years while torturing pupils with her Black Quill. It doesn’t really conjure up images of festive fun, does it?
Order of the Phoenix finds more suitable Christmas spirit in Harry’s admittedly ‘wet’ kiss with Cho Chang under the mistletoe.
Away from the yucky kissy stuff, there’s a heartwarming Weasley family dinner at Grimmauld Place, when Ron gets the usual crap Christmas jumper from his mum. Bless.
5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Let’s rewind back to the original Harry Potter film now, and that very first crap Christmas jumper.
The Philosopher’s Stone makes Chamber of Secrets look like The Godfather: Part II, such is the ear-piercing shrill of some of its more unrepeatable dialogue, but it comes up trumps in the festive feelgood stakes.
There’s a lovely sequence where we see Hagrid dragging a Christmas tree through the snow…
… followed by said tree’s decoration by Filius Flitwick.
This bit is very subtly soundtracked by the Christmas at Hogwarts carol, which contains the choice lyric:
Find a broomstick in your stocking,
Singing you the magic of this place.
Join the owls joyous flocking,
On this merry Christmas Day.
Later, Ron wakes Harry up on Christmas Day for a spot of wrapping ripping. While Ron has to make do with an R-printed pullover from his mum, jammy little Harry gets a flipping invisibility cloak, the Super Nintendo of Potter presents.
In Harry’s defence, this is effectively his first Christmas, having been subjected to years of seasonal torment at the hands of the Dursleys (previous sample gift: a box of dog biscuits from Aunt Marge), so the poor tyke has every reason to be excited.
Although technically his cloak is more of a hand-me-down; it later emerges that it once belonged to his dad, but was given to Harry by Dumbledore – come on, Albus, you cheapskate, flash some cash next time!
On a more serious note, Christmas provides a powerful backdrop in the Potter movies, because it shows us Harry’s isolation. There’s no tramping off home for festive frivolities for him – with his parents dead, there’s nowhere to go. Hogwarts isn’t just a school to him, it’s his new home.
So when he asks Ron, ‘I’ve got presents?!’, it’s incredibly poignant.
4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1
If the above sequence jerked a few tears from your eyes, then this next one will leave you swimming in a pool of them.
Many Potter fans dislike the first cinematic instalment of the Deathly Hallows, possibly because a lot of the action takes place away from Hogwarts, and possibly because a lot of that action involves kids camping.
But I for one enjoyed the change of scenery and pace, leaving us with only the beautiful Forest of Dean and Harry, Hermione and Ron dealing with the weight of Horcrux-carrying, which in no way reminded me of Frodo’s burden wearing the One Ring whatsoever, no, not at all.
The best bit, however, is when Harry and Hermione ditch Ron (good for a laugh, but always the least interesting of the heroic trio), for a spot of Christmas Eve graveyard gazing in Godric’s Hollow, the boy who lived’s birthplace.
Sure enough, they stumble across Harry’s parents’ headstone, and his trademark stoicism shines through once again. No overwrought speeches for our Harry – just some sniffling and a ‘Merry Christmas, Hermione’.
When she replies with her own, ‘Merry Christmas, Harry’, it gets me right in the tear ducts every time.
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
From the least loved Potter movie to the fans’ most cherished.
Alfonso Cuarón’s film was the first in the series not to be specifically targeted at four-year-olds, and the move paid off in spades, setting the tone for all the instalments that followed.
I had forgotten, however, just how Christmasy the whole thing is, from the owl swooping past Hogwarts Castle’s clock tower in deep winter to a cloaked Harry hurling snowballs at Draco and co.
The film also contains the very seasonal sounding Double Trouble on its soundtrack, which is often confused with another John Williams track – itself a variation of a 1914 arrangement by Mykola Leontovych – called Carol of the Bells. That one was in Home Alone.
2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Also known as Carry on Harry, given how everyone’s hormones at Hogwarts are raging.
And there’s no greater aphrodisiac than Christmas, except maybe a Love Potion.
In the Half-Blood Prince, Ginny Weasley gets into the Christmas spirit by teasing a flustered Harry with the offer of a festive mince pie, and there’s a snowy sequence where Harry, Hermione and Ron share a touching group hug after a visit to the pub (right before Katie Bell gets cursed in arguably the scariest scene of the entire series, but we won’t mention that).
Proving that Christmas parties are almost always awful, Hermione has a torrid time at the Slug Club do, finally fending off the unwanted affections of Cormac McLaggen, who finds Professor Snape’s shoes with a chunk of projectile dragon balls vomit. Lovely.
What is lovely is that Harry goes to the Slug Club Christmas party with Luna Lovegood – I love Luna!
1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Two words: Yule Ball.
Sorry, four words: The Fricking Yule Ball.
Who didn’t want to attend this sumptuous Christmas feast, the traditional schmoozefest of the Triwizard Tournament? Yes, one of your friends might die in the tournament itself, but at least you can have a last blast at the ball a few nights beforehand.
There are so many ‘YAY!!’ moments in the Goblet of Fire’s dancing extravaganza it’s hard to keep track, but special mention goes to a set of sweet romantic match-ups (Ginny and Neville! Hagrid and Madame Maxime!) and the band for the night, The Weird Sisters (led by Jarvis Cocker).
But like every school ball you ever went to, it all ends in tears – and, unfortunately for Hermione Granger, they all come gushing out of her eyes.
It’s not surprising that Ron got jealous of her date for the ball, Viktor Krum – the guy can almost turn into a shark – but did floppy-haired Weasley have to be so moody about it?
Hermione’s tantrum on the steps at the end of the night epitomises the trials of a hundred million teenage girls… why do stupid boys have to be so cruel?
HAPPY CHRISTMAS FROM HOGWARTS!