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- "Harry arrived early in the Room of Requirement for the last D.A. meeting before the holidays and was very glad he had, because when the lamps burst into light he saw that Dobby had taken it upon himself to decorate the place for Christmas. He could tell the elf had done it, because nobody else would have strung a hundred golden baubles from the ceiling, each showing a picture of Harry's face and bearing the legend: HAVE A VERY HARRY CHRISTMAS!"
- —Harry discovers a Christmas surprise in the Room of Requirement[src]
But in the Harry Potter series, the characters celebrate Christmas. Christmas has certainly brought some interesting things for Harry, some good, some not so good. During his time with the Dursleys, Christmas wasn't particularly a time to look forward to, as he never received any presents, and perhaps more importantly, he never had anyone he truly considered family or friends to spend it with. All of that changed, however, once he arrived at Hogwarts and took his place in the magical world. With that in mind, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at Harry's Christmases...
When Harry first arrived at Hogwarts, the idea of a Christmas with friends and things like getting presents was still new to him. While excited by the general holiday atmosphere at Hogwarts, he really wasn't expecting any presents, having been so used to the way things were with the Dursleys. As such, it came as something of a surprise to him when he woke up to presents on Christmas morning. Among other things, he received his first-ever Weasley jumper, but the most exciting and interesting present by far had to be the invisibility cloak, a gift that at the time he had no idea of knowing was the fabled Cloak of Invisibility, one of the three fabled Deathly Hallows. It was left to him with a note written in loopy handwriting reading simply "Use it well." At that time, he used it to sneak into the Hogwarts Library with the intention of visiting the Restricted Section and searching for information about Nicolas Flamel. Throughout the years, the Cloak proved quite useful indeed, aiding Harry and his friends in a number of situations. He did, indeed, "use it well."
Christmas time in 1992 was tainted by the fear that swept through the castle following the unexplained Petrification of Argus Filch's cat and Hogwarts students. The atmosphere of fear at the school meant that the vast majority of students left for him, but Harry's friends Ron and Hermione remained for moral support. To their surprise, they discovered that Draco Malfoy and his cronies Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle were remaining at the school at well. Therefore, while Harry and his friends enjoyed the sumptuous Christmas feast, their evening affairs involved covert activities as they used Polyjuice Potion in the hopes of tricking Malfoy into revealing that he was the "Heir of Slytherin," the individual that had opened the Chamber of Secrets and was setting an unknown monster on the muggle-borns of the school. In the end, they only succeeding in learning that Malfoy was not, in fact, the Heir. Furthermore, Hermione had made a critical mistake, having secured a hair for the potion not from Millicent Bulstrode of Slytherin, but rather from her cat. She was left with a cat's face and other cat features (including a tail) and required a stay in the hospital wing.
Christmas and the time leading up to it in 1993 was another mixed bag for Harry. With the help of "a bit of festive cheer" from Fred and George Weasley, he was able to visit the Wizarding village of Hogsmeade for the first time and experience its many delights. But this fun trip was marred by an overheard conservation at the Three Broomsticks Inn in which Harry learned (though nobody knew that this was not the truth at the time) that Sirius Black was the man who had betrayed the whereabouts of his parents to Lord Voldemort, the world's most evil wizard. Before he could spend too long brooding on revenge, however, he and his friends learned of more bad news-- that their friend and professor Rubeus Hagrid's hippogriff, Buckbeak, was scheduled for a hearing with the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures. This drove thoughts of revenge out of Harry's mind as he and the others tried their best to help Hagrid. Then, on Christmas morning, Harry received one of his biggest surprises ever - a state-of-the-art Quidditch broomstick, a Firebolt. The sort of racing broom that any top-flight Quidditch player dreams about, Harry marveled at the broom. But his cheer was cut short later that day when Professor Minerva McGonagall arrived to confiscate the broom, fearing it been sent by Sirius Black as a means of endangering Harry. (Again, though nobody could have known it at the time, the broom was sent by Sirius Black, but it was simply what Harry had thought it to be - a Christmas gift.) As it was Hermione who had tipped McGonagall off to Harry's receiving the broom, this led to a rift in her friendship with Harry and Ron that would take quite a while to heal.
1994 saw Harry's nerve, daring and magical skills tested to the limit as he learned that he was the unprecedented fourth entrant in the Triwizard Tournament, a competition between Hogwarts and two other wizarding schools, the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic and the Durmstrang Institute. The dangers included dragons and more, but the real threat was lurking outside Hogwarts. In the time leading up to Christmas, however, Harry found himself facing an entirely unexpected task. He learned that he would be required to dance with a partner at the Yule Ball, a traditional festive accompaniment to the Tournament. Though he knew whom he wanted to ask out, he found his choice taken instead by Cedric Diggory, his fellow Hogwarts opponent in the Tournament. He was forced to settle instead for Parvati Patil, while his friend Ron was accompanied by Parvati's twin, Pamda. Neither of the boys greatly enjoyed the ball (Ron's enjoyment particularly spoiled by Hermione's dating another champion, Viktor Krum). Slome interesting information was learned, however, as the two overheard an argument between Severus Snape and Igor Karkaroff and then later heard Hagrid admit to Madame Maxime that was half-giant. As the Yule Ball ended, Harry was left with something else to ponder when Diggory gave him a seemingly strange piece of advice - that he could learn something that would help him solve the Golden Egg clue for the second task of the tournament if he took a bath and used the Prefects' bathroom.
1995 was a difficult year for Harry and the others, as Harry was being persecuted by the British Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts was under the tyranny of the sadistic Dolores Umbridge. Inspired to fight, Harry took charge of Dumbledore's Army, a secret group of Hogwarts students who wished to learn proper Defence Against the Dark Arts. In the time leading up to the holidays, he scheduled a final meeting before break, only to enter the Room of Requirement (the secret location discovered for the meetings) and find that it had been decorated by Dobby with golden baubles bearing his face and the legend "HAVE A VERY HARRY CHRISTMAS." He managed to remove most of the decorations, but was not in time to remove some mistletoe, which was pointed out by Luna Lovegood, though she worried that it might be infested with nargles. The mistletoe later came into play when Harry shared his first kiss with Cho Chang. Later, Harry experienced a vision in which Ron's father, Arthur Weasley, was attacked by the snake Nagini. This vision allowed him to alert Albus Dumbledore and save Arthur's life, though this and other events led Harry to become concerned that his connection with Voldemort would somehow pose a danger to his friends. Nevertheless, Harry ended up spending the holidays at 12 Grimmauld Place and in the company of his godfather, Sirius Black.
With Dolores Umbridge gone from the school, things went somewhat back to normal at Hogwarts, though the wizarding community was on heightened alert due to the growing threat of Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. As Christmas approached, Harry faced another problem, the rift between his friends Hermione and Ron, who was dating Lavender Brown. For the end of term, Horace Slughorn scheduled a Christmas party for the members of his Slug Club, having checked Harry's schedule to make sure it would be at time when Harry could attend. Members were allowed to take a partner of the choice to the party (whether or not the partner was in the Slug Club). At Hermione's urging that he had best pick a partner before some girl slipped him a Love Potion, Harry ended up taking Luna Lovegood, who proved to great entertainment with her theories about the Rotfang Conspiracy and the idea of Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour being a vampire. Harry also overheard a troubling conversation between Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy. Hary then visited The Burrow for Christmas with Ron, Hermione being thoroughly upset with Ron for his dating Lavender. At The Burrow, Harry talked with Remus Lupin and learned why he hadn't heard from his former professor recently, as Lupin was underground trying to make headway for the light side's cause with his fellow werewolves. Harry also floated his theory with Lupin of Draco Malfoy being a Death Eater, but Lupin felt that they all had to trust in Dumbledore. On Christmas day, Harry received a visit from Rufus Scrimgeour, who tried to talk him into revealing where Dumbledore went when he left Hogwarts. Harry, however, was not inclined to tell the minister, even if he did know.
In the time leading up to Christmas in 1997, Harry and Hermione were on the run following Voldemort's return to the open and his control over the Ministry of Magic. The two found themselves without Ron Weasley, who had run away in a fit of temper and found himself unable to return after nearly being caught by a gang of Snatchers. Running low on leads in their hunt for Horcruxes, Hermione suggested a visit to Godric's Hollow in the belief that they might learn about the strange eye-like symbol that Harry first seen as a necklace around the neck of Xenophilius Lovegood. Harry agreed to the journey, as he had thought that Godric's Hollow might hold answers, and he also thought that Dumbledore might have chosen to leave Godric Gryffindor's Sword with Bathilda Bagshot, who lived in Godric's Hollow. During their visit, the two learned that it was Christmas Eve, having lost track of time during the many months spent on the run. They visited the graveyard and found the strange symbol on the grave of Ignotus Peverell and also discovered the graves of Harry's parents. Bathilda Bagshot, however, did not possess the sword that they were seeking - it turned out that Bagshot had been killed many months previously and replaced by Nagini, a trap set for Harry Potter. Harry and Hermione managed to escape, but at great cost, as Harry's wand was snapped and Harry was injured. Soon after this incident, however, Harry was led to the real Sword of Gryffindor and Ron was reunited with Harry and Hermione.
So there you have it. Whether good or bad, one can certainly not say that Christmas was ever uninteresting for Harry during his years at Hogwarts. Still, here's hoping that in future years, Christmas was a peaceful time for Harry spent with friends and family. As he himself noted, "I've had enough trouble for a lifetime."
And again, happy holidays to everyone here, and here's hoping you get at least some of what you wished for for the holidays!