I may celebrate Hanukkah, but that doesn't mean I don't have strong feelings about the Christmases depicted in the Harry Potter movies. Six of the eight films in the franchise feature Christmas scenes in and outside of Hogwarts. Which movies jingle my bells and which feel like I received a lump of coal in my stocking? Below, I've ranked the Harry Potter Christmas scenes from best to worst.
'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' (2005)
While I love the mythology of the Harry Potter series, it's not the fantasy aspects that turned me into a Potterhead. It's all the love! Hear me out: As someone obsessed with teen dramas, I love the teen drama qualities of the story — strip away all the magic, and it's really a coming-of-age tale showcasing the characters growing up at Hogwarts and experiencing their first crushes and all the ups and downs of puberty.
That's why “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is not only my favorite of the movies in general but also my top pick for Christmas scenes: It's the first installment to really introduce romance into the series. Here, it's in the form of the Yule Ball, a dance that requires the characters to couple up in a festive setting.
I still gasp at how gorgeous Hermoine (Emma Watson) and Cho (Katie Leung) look when they're all made up for the ball, and I viscerally feel Harry's (Daniel Radcliffe) longing for Cho. Nothing, of course, tops the emotional fight that Hermoine and Ron (Rupert Grint) have as the dance winds down. You spoil everything, Ron Weasley!
'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' (2009)
In “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” we're again treated to a festive gathering and, again, Ron is feeling on the outs after Hermoine doesn't invite him to Slughorn's Christmas party (We'll blame Lavender for that). The fun of the bash is balanced by the seriousness of the conversation Snape (Alan Rickman) and Draco (Tom Felton) have in the hallway about the Unbreakable Vow.
Similarly, a Christmas get-together at the Weasleys mixes the light-hearted with the tense. I love how Harry's argument with Lupin (David Thewlis) about Snape's loyalties contrasts with Ginny (Bonnie Wright) trying to get her flirt on with Harry. The attraction between the two is clearly gaining steam, but just when they're about to kiss, Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) has to go and ruin the holiday for everyone by attacking the Burrow. Romance and angst — what more can I ask for?!
'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' (2001)
There is nothing quite like the joy on Harry's face on his first Christmas morning at Hogwarts when he realizes, “I've got presents?!” Yes, Harry, you do. Among other things, he receives his father's invisible cloak, which serves him well throughout the rest of the series. But what's the holiday season without a little heartbreak, as well?
After Harry discovers the Mirror of Erised, his hopes of reuniting with his deceased parents are dashed when he learns through Ron that the mirror isn't quite what it seems to be. A deleted scene (which you can find online!) shows Harry, wearing his handmade Christmas sweater from Ron's mom, isolating himself from the Christmas festivities and staring into the fireplace with sadness all over his face. Ron tries his best to comfort him, but all Harry can do is ruminate on his memories and feelings. Been there, kid.
'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1' (2010)
Oh, you thought we were done with all the Christmas heartbreak? Hardly! Years after Harry's first Christmas at Hogwarts, he again finds himself longing for his late parents when he and Hermoine visit Godric's Hollow, where he lived as an infant until that fateful night (you know the one). When the pals apparate into the town, Hermoine realizes it's Christmas Eve. “Do you think they'd be in there?” Harry asks as they spy a church filled with congregants singing. “My mom and dad?”
If that isn't enough to put you in your feels, Harry then finds his parents' gravesite in a nearby cemetery. Hermoine, sensing the magnitude of the moment, says nothing. Instead, she uses her wand to lay a wreath with white roses in front of the headstone, a gesture that conveys volumes. A teary-eyed, sniffling Harry wishes Hermoine a merry Christmas, and she leans her head on his shoulder. I'm not crying — you're crying!
'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' (2003)
Though I'm all about the relationships in the Wizarding World, I cringe every time I watch Harry and Cho's kiss under the mistletoe. While I was into Harry's longing for her in “Goblet of Fire,” I ultimately prefer the pair's moments of angst to their moments of romance.
However, two things redeem the Christmas-related festivities for me in this film: Hermoine telling Ron he has the “emotional range of a teaspoon” and then breaking into giggles after Harry kisses and tells, and then the holiday celebration at Grimmauld Place, where Harry has a very angsty conversation with Sirius (Gary Oldman) about the darkness growing within him.
'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' (2002)
The Christmas in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” ranks so low on my list because it lacks the emotions of the preceding entries. The Golden Trio gets up to some shenanigans thanks to a scheme involving their first-ever attempt at brewing Polyjuice Potion. Harry and Ron drink the illicit elixir to transform into Crabbe (Jamie Waylett) and Goyle (Joshua Herdman).
Their goal is to get some intel on who's opening the Chamber of Secrets, but what always sticks with me is how flawlessly Waylett and Herdman's mouth movements match Radcliffe and Grint's voices. Now that's acting. Also, Draco swiping one of the Christmas presents and sneakily putting this into his pocket? Priceless.
What About ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ and ‘Deathly Hallows — Part 2’?
Missing from the above are “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2,” which takes place after the Christmastime depicted in “Part 1,” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” While the latter features some wintry scenes (complete with a snowman and a snowball fight), there is nothing that really conveys Christmas in the movie, so I couldn't bring myself to include it in this ranking. Vibes alone just don't cut it. Disagree? Tell me in the comments below.