"I do feel so sorry ...for all those people who have to stay at Hogwarts for Christmas because they're not wanted at home."
-- Draco Malfoy (PS12)
For those who stay at Hogwarts for the Christmas holidays, enchantment and extravagance await. Harry has fond memories of spending Christmas at Hogwarts, since he never had any fun with the Dursleys. When he and Hermione visit Godric’s Hollow, the carols coming from the church remind him of “Peeves bellowing rude versions of carols from inside suits of armor, of the Great Hall’s twelve Christmas trees, of Dumbledore wearing a bonnet he had won in a cracker, of Ron in a hand-knitted sweater…” (DH16).
Professor McGonagall takes a list of students who wish to stay for the Christmas holidays during the second week of December. Their presents are piled at the foot of their beds for them to find when they wake up on Christmas morning.
Twelve large decorated fir trees, mistletoe, and holly are among the decorations that Hagrid and the professors help put in the Great Hall for the Christmas holidays. Snow falls from the ceiling of the Great Hall, but unlike real snow this snow is dry and warm. Around the castle, suits of armor are also enchanted to sing carols.
The Christmas feast features roast turkey, potatoes, chipolatas, peas, gravy, cranberry sauce, and “flaming Christmas puddings” (PS12). The staff may also enjoy wine with their meal. Wizarding crackers explode loudly and contain nicer favors than their Muggle counterparts, such as proper hats and bonnets, live mice, and wizard chess sets.
- 1991: Harry Potter, and Ron, Fred, George, and Percy Weasley were among the students to stay for the holidays in 1991. Among Harry's gifts that year was his father's Invisibility Cloak, given to him anonymously by Albus Dumbledore.
- 1992: Harry, Ron, and Hermione stayed at Hogwarts so they could question Draco Malfoy to determine if he were the Heir of Slytherin via Polyjuice Potion.
- 1993: Once again, Harry, Ron, and Hermione stayed at Hogwarts for the holidays. Harry received another anonymous gift, his Firebolt (from Sirius Black).
- 1994: During the 1994-1995 school year, Hogwarts held the Yule Ball during the Christmas holidays as part of the Triwizard Tournament. As a result, more students than usual stayed at Hogwarts for the holidays. The Great Hall was decorated differently than usual for the occasion, with walls covered in silver frost and garlands of mistletoe and ivy.
- 1996: Before the Christmas holidays officially began, Professor Slughorn threw a Christmas party for members of the Slug Club and their guests.
Harry does not spend Christmas at Hogwarts during his fifth, sixth, or what would have been his seventh year. In fifth year, he intends to go to the Burrow but spends Christmas at Grimmauld Place and in St. Mungo's visiting Arthur as he healed from Nagini's attack. In sixth year, Harry spends Christmas at the Burrow with the Weasleys, Fleur, and Remus. Since Harry did not return to Hogwarts for his seventh year, he and Hermione spend Christmas Eve in Godric's Hollow while Ron spends Christmas with Bill and Fleur at Shell Cottage.
Many of the traditions associated with Christmas come from pagan celebrations of the winter solstice. Interestingly, decorating with holly was believed to protect your home against witches.