There’re about a dozen classic Christmas films out there that populate every fam’s Yuletide movie marathon–schmaltzy family fare that checks all the heartwarming boxes we want to consume during the holiday season: love stories, family values, a magical twist of fate. Typical faves run the gamut from LOVE ACTUALLY to ELF to SERENDIPITY and THE SANTA CLAUSE, but we’ve been converted by a recent argument that some of the greatest Christmas flicks of all time are none other than the hellish pagan cult known as the Harry Potter franchise.
Sure, nobody believes in Santa and the only elves in the picture are *actual slaves,* but for the most part Harry’s adventures in the wizarding world are chock-full of the fuzzy feelings and Yuletide charm that produce the perfect Christmas film formula. So without further ado, here’s a film-by-film analysis of why your annual Christmas movie binge should straight-up just be an ABC Family-style Harry Potter Weekend:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Remember how fucking PSYCHED little bb orphan Harry was to spend Christmas at Hogwarts with his new BFF Ron? Remember how lonely and oppressed and unloved he was all those years at the Dursleys and how shocked he was to get presents??? DO YOU REMEMBER THE LOOK ON THAT SWEET, TINY, BESPECTACLED FACE?? DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN RON SAID “HAPPY CHRISTMAS, HARRY,” AND THEN HARRY SAID “HAPPY CHRISTMAS, RON,” AND FOR ONE SHINING WEASLEY-SWEATERED MOMENT EVERYTHING WAS RIGHT IN THE WORLD? DO YOU???
Not to mention that it’s also around this Christmas that Harry manages to see his dead parents for the first time via the Mirror Erised. Joy, love, loss, longing. These are the ~special feelings~ you’ve been chasing with all those repeat watches of LOVE ACTUALLY.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Ok, so Chamber of Secrets is a bit of a Christmas bust. This year, the Golden Trio all spend the hols at Hogwarts so they can spy on Malfoy and there’s this whole thing with Polyjuice Potion and Hermione turns into a cat. And while body-morphing hijinks are always a laugh, this book is honestly everybody’s least favorite. So you if you need to expedite the Christmas cheer, feel free to skip this one.
But there’s not a total dearth of Christmas-spirit moments to warm your heart! Take Ron’s heroic attempt to defend Hermione from Malfoy’s bigoted taunts–which ended in him barfing slugs. Or Harry’s poignant moment holding Hermione’s hand in the hospital wing–because she’d been Petrified by a giant racist snake beast that lives in the toilets.
And then there’s the spiders.
Ok, so COS is a dark pit of 12-year-old existential horror that no one really needs to revisit. But my point OVERALL still stands, with:
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN is notable in the series for being the only damned book/movie where Voldemort doesn’t show up to fuck shit up in the third act, and thank GOD. Scaling back on Wizard Hitler allows more time for Wizard Hijinks, like Harry sneaking into Hogsmeade under his invisibility cloak for invisible giggles and invisible snowball fights! Make note that this is also the movie where Harry meets Lupin and Sirius, the father figure he had thought murdered his actual father but had really just spent 12 years in a soul-sucking wizard prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Now that‘s the kind of revelation the Ghost of Christmas Past wishes she could expose.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
YULE BALL. Need I say more? There’s dancing. There’s recently rekindled friendships. There’s dowdy girl makeovers. There’s unresolved sexual tension. This whole section of the movie could (and should) be cordoned off into its own Christmassy Lifetime rom-com called Alohamora My Heart.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
While parts of the 5th installment’s Christmas season get decidedly dark (more giant snakes, TYPICAL), Mr. Weasley’s near-fatal injury and Harry’s ensuing existential crisis over his psychic attachment to Voldemort are off-set by the full-on MISTLETOE MACKING that happens just prior to the whole fiasco. All I want for Christmas is some of that hot, please-ignore-the-fact-that-i’m-actively-weeping-over-my-dead-ex-boyfriend-whose-murder-you-witnessed smoochie action.
There’s also the way the Sirius and the Weasleys try to make the best of what should honestly be a very shitty Christmas, banding around Harry to show him that he’s truly one of the fam. I’m not crying, YOU’RE CRYING (as is Cho Chang).
Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince
Barring the last 25 minutes of the movie in which things truly go to hell, the 6th movie is a barrel of laughs, ~lovers~, and awkward Slug Club parties. But the best thing about it is Luna’s Christmas dress, which is more festive than any ensemble ever has been or ever will be.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
And at last, the most heart-wrenching of HP Christmas moments. It’s a particularly somber scene in the midst of already very somber plotline–when Harry and Hermione, now Ron-less, realize that while they’ve been fruitlessly hunting evil for months, it’s suddenly Christmas Eve. But for the first time since they started Hogwarts, they’re not surrounded by friends or family; all they have is each other. They visit Harry’s parents’ graves in Godric’s Hollow and take a moment to quietly stand in sadness. And that’s the flipside of the holiday season, the part that’s not always addressed in feel-good Christmas movies–while it’s a wonderful time to reunite with loved ones, it’s also the time when you most keenly feel their absence.
So this year, once you tire of LOVE ACTUALLY’s love triangles and your family’s endless viewings of ELF, conjure up those magical Christmas feelings with everybody’s favorite boy wizard. Except for the 2nd one.