Ranking Harry Potter’s Seven ChristmasesBy Matthew Martin| December 11, 2018 Movie Blogs Previous Page #3 THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX “Christmas on the Closed Ward” (considered alongside its preceding chapter, “St. Mungo’s Hospital”) is an excellent bit of writing that accomplishes two very important tasks. For one, it lets the reader exhale after the insanity that had just concluded; Harry had a vision through his connection to Voldemort, witnessing Nagini attack Arthur Weasley. Pandemonium ensued which culminated in Harry being whisked away to Grimmauld Place (but not before locking eyes with Dumbledore and feeling a furious desire to murder him spring up from his toes to his scar…wild). For a first time reader, a trip to the Hospital was probably needed just to get the blood pressure down. Spending the holidays at Grimmauld Place revealed Sirius exuberant and cheerful, which ultimately is heartbreaking considering we know it’s a short-lived euphoria. Gifts are exchanged and there’s a mixture of serious talk and silly, but it’s not till we head off to St. Mungo’s that the real fun begins. Rowling absolutely shines in describing all the ways in which magical people live amongst blissfully ignorant Muggles. The Hospital appearing to non-wizarding folk to be a rundown old building while actually being a bustling go-to for magical maladies is beautifully described. Inside we get to smile at Molly lecturing Arthur on trying a Muggle remedy for his snake bites (stitches!). Ron bumps into a healer in a painting who tells him he has spattergroit (the very disease Ron would later fake having in book seven!)…and then they all run into Lockhart; what a wonderful callback and a surprise that was. We also meet Neville’s delightful grandmother, take in the horrors of the cruciatus curse that ruined his parents and end with the reveal that it was Bellatrix Lestrange who did the damage, all of which are critical points of information for the rest of this book and the series as a whole. In terms of sheer happenings, Harry’s fifth Hogwarts Christmas was certainly his most eventful. #2 THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE “The Mirror of Erised” is a hard Christmas chapter top. You can tell as a reader that the happenings of Harry’s first Hogwarts holidays was a very important chapter to Rowling and one she worked hard to get just perfect. It has the most “Christmas holidays from school” feel of all the chapters; very relaxed and casual. The trio are trying desperately to learn who Nicholas Flamel is but first there’s Christmas to enjoy: Harry learns wizard chess, gets his first Weasley sweater from Ron’s mom (and gets a couple quarters from his aunt and uncle) and chocolate frogs from Hermione, the very frogs that tell you exactly who Nicholas Flamel is because they already read about it on Dumbledore’s card half a dozen chapters ago! GOSH THESE BOOKS ARE WONDERFUL TO RE-READ! Anyway, the real kicker comes when Harry anonymously is gifted his father’s old invisibility cloak. He uses it to search the castle at night and stumbles upon the Mirror of Erised, which reflects not simply the one looking at it, but what the person desires most of all. Harry, of course, sees himself with his parents, a moment that resonates a lot more powerfully for the parent reading the book to his child than it does to the child, I assure you. Still, in one fell swoop, Rowling gives us a great bit of magical world building, a set-up for the book’s climax, and a pair of objects—the cloak as well as the mirror—that will become crucially important to the series as the books progress. The cloak is a Hallow and the mirror, while not obviously important, gives us a hint that there’s more to Dumbledore than meets the eye. The man wasn’t seeing himself with socks when he looked in the mirror; anyone reading the book over the age of eleven would have guessed that, but it wouldn’t be until the end of the series that we finally understood what he really desired most of all. #1 THE DEATHLY HALLOWS “Godrick’s Hollow” and “The Mirror of Erised” were neck-and-neck for the top spot but Harry’s last Christmas in the series gets the prize for having the perfect combination of holiday happenings, tender moments and enticing mysteries all in the backdrop of a snow-covered town on Christmas Eve. The trio had been hopping locations, vainly searching for horcruxes while the one they have—which they can’t figure out how to destroy—eats away at them. Ron finally snaps, leaves the group in a lurch and forces Harry and Hermione to go on without him. After a period of mourning, the two of them decide to go to the place where Harry was born and where Voldemort was first stopped by him. They both suspect a trap but Hermione is willing to risk it since she thinks the Sword of Godric Gryffindor might be there; Harry just wants to see his parents’ graves. They arrive at the snow-covered village to the sound of carols ringing from the nearby church. They investigate and come across several tombstones whose surnames hold significance to the series. They also find the triangular rune-symbol that Hermione had, to that point, been unable to decode. Unlike other JK Rowling mysteries, this one was played close to her vest till she was ready to reveal it. As of now it’s just a tantalizing mystery. Harry and Hermione find the remains of Harry’s childhood home, now turned into a monument. There’s a moment of solemn reflection as Harry—who previously had allowed tears to fall over his parents graves—stares at the monument (which had been graffiti’d with words of encouragement) with a renewed sense of purpose and understanding that millions of lives were at stake and he had to be the one to step up. And then they ran into zombie Bathilda Bagshot with a giant snake hiding inside her magically-animated corpse. Just Harry Potter things. Happy Christmas everyone!