filch being forced to dress up as santa claus and walk around the school wishing everyone a merry christmas- he acted grumpy but secretly loved it
the non-christmas celebrating minority throwing parties for hanukkah, diwali, etc.
secret santa exchanges within each of the Houses
fred and george distributing holiday-themed tricks and firecrackers during harry’s 5th year, much to umbridge’s dismay
a hogwarts-wide “muggleborn movie night” to marathon-watch muggle holiday movies. non-muggleborns would attend the marathon ironically to laugh at the muggle antics depicted in the movies but actually ended up enjoying the movies just as much as the muggleborns
flitwick’s choir caroling around the school and hogsmeade with muggle carols such as “deck the halls” and holiday wizarding favorites such as “a cauldron full of hot strong love”
Pictured Above: Students and professors at the Salem Institute celebrate the holidays with their ghostly compatriots.
“…of course, track the history of the various winter festivals becomes even more complicated when we move across the Atlantic and examine the proud, boisterous and diverse population of the American Wizarding Confederation (AWC). All of the traditions we have studied previously in this book meet and explode in a glorious panoply of seasonal celebrations in a magical nation whose roots trace to every corner of the world, including, to some regrettably small degree, its own.
As in every nation, the peoples of the AWC all celebrate their holidays to varying degrees. For some families, largely those with stronger connections to the Muggle world, Christmas is a major celebration that dominates the entirety of the month, while others barely go through the motions of acknowledging the date as anything more than another day. Western European celebrations dominate, with English and German influences being particularly prevalent (the American obsession with Christmas Trees being at the center of this), but every family adds their own unique mixture of their cultural heritage to the holiday. Pure-Blooded families tend to be even more traditional… so much so that many modern eyes would find their celebrations peculiar, due to their great age. North-Eastern families may hold on to their Puritanical roots, and not celebrate the holiday beyond a quiet family feast, while Southerners are more likely to hold something akin to a late harvest festival, with a full days worth of games, hunts, dancing, and feasting, wrapping up with the traditional burning of the specially prepared Yule Log. On the west coast, meanwhile, and in territories with stronger Spanish influences, many families observe both somber masses and rollicksome celebrations, governed by “misrule” (see “Saturnalia,” in Chapter 3).
Indeed, in a nation with such diversity in its celebrations, there is so much to say that it is best for one to say very little. Instead, one is best served by examining the more consistent bastions of seasonal celebration, the Seven Schools of Sorcery which serve the people of AWC.
The Salem Institute: The oldest of the Seven Schools, the Salem Institute was also the last to embrace a mid-winter celebration. The Puritanical founders of the Salem Institute eschewed the celebration as simultaneously too “Catholic” and too “Pagan,” a dichotomy that, as we have seen, is extremely apt for many of the traditions surrounding the holiday. Ironically, it was not until the school set aside its religious tradition in favor of a more secular model that it began to embrace the celebration of the numerous mid-winter festivals that orbit the solstice. Classes are suspended for the month of December, starting on the first and ending at the new year, when students are expected to return. Work, however, does not cease, even though students are released from their normal schedule: weekly assignments are assigned and students are expected to return them on whatever schedule the Professor has established. Most students do opt to return home for the holidays, but the dorms and kitchens remain open, and students are welcome to remain or return early as they please. On December 21st the school has a feast for any students or faculty that opt to remain at the school, and it is not uncommon for students to remain or return to campus for the days immediately around the 21st in order to attend.
The Randolph-Poythress Institute: In 1746, a London magazine said of Christmas in Virginia that “all over the colony, a universal hospitality reigns,” and RPI perpetually honors that spirit of community and celebration by throwing open its doors to the families of its students. The Manor House grows two extra wings of festively-decorated rooms to accommodate the parents and siblings who come to celebrate the holidays. In the 18th and 19th centuries, this celebration could last for as long as two weeks, but in recent decades, the duration has shrunk to three days, allowing students to return home for a brief winter break. The school’s halls are decorated with garlands of holly and ivy, while in every fireplace, an enchanted Yule log burns red, green, and gold, emitting a scent of cinnamon or gingerbread. During the days, families may enjoy winter traditions like carolling, sleigh-rides, and ice-skating (with freezing charms in place and enchanted snow produced by the teachers, should the Virginia weather prove typically uncooperative), along with pegasi races, dueling exhibitions, and student-produced pageants of wizarding legends. Each night, the school hosts a great feast, allowing the students and families to mingle around tables groaning under the weight of pheasants, venison, ham, biscuits, sweet potatoes, nutcakes, pies, and tarts — along with more modern treats like fried chicken, sugar cookies, and Ice Mice. The festivities culminate on the final night with a grand ball — one of several during the year, but the only one which students of all years may attend. All are encouraged to dress in their finest; paintings and photographs from this ball are a veritable lesson in both wizarding and Muggle haute couture through the ages. With dancing, singing, gaming, and feasting till midnight, Yuletide is one of RPI’s longest-lived, best-beloved, and most-cherished traditions.
Black Gate: Black Gate Academy celebrates a variety of midwinter holidays, some tying back to their Northern European heritage, some not. For their Jewish students, and in honor of Jewish founder Frederick Sorenson, menorahs can be found in the Great Halls during Hanukkah, and in the evenings a table is set aside for those who wish to recite the Hallel. A giant menorah also remains ever burning at the front of the Great Halls, with a new flame catching every night of Hanukkah. The night of Winter Solstice will see all students and teachers led by the Headmaster out into the deepest dark of the year. At precisely midnight, the students and teachers fire off illumination spells, firecrackers, and other such charms to symbolically drive back the night and welcome the return of the light. The celebration ends with a large midnight breakfast, with pastries, scones, cakes, and loads of other sweet breads and rolls. And for Christmas, due to the school’s prestigious Enchantment program, Black Gate is famous for having the most magnificent wizarding Christmas tree in North America. Black Gate has had a Christmas tree every year since its founding; Dalia Aleksa had originally brought black fir seeds from the German Black Forest over, which she planted within the earth of Black Gate itself, under the floor inside the middle of three Great Halls. With a little help, the tree was magnificently full grown by Christmas the year of Black Gate’s founding, and every year on December 1st, it appears in the Great Hall with its roots dug into the floor as if it had always been there. Students receive a final term project in their Enchantment classes to create their own ornament for the tree, and their work is spectacular - the tree crawls up and down with glowing silver toy mice that skitter about its needles whistling Christmas carols, toy soldiers that march in place, chocolate bonbons that shriek whenever a hungry student tries to nibble, baubles that shine with inner flame or which tickle pleasantly to the touch, a hundred, hundred different signs and sigils and wrought silver and gold. The tree changes ornaments of its own accord, so all the ornaments from students of years past wink in and out as one watches. On Christmas Eve, students traditionally drag down pillows and blankets and stay up late sitting around the three, drinking hot chocolate and singing carols. On Christmas Day, all students’ presents from their families appear under the tree, and students open them together over a long breakfast. (Presents have occasionally been “mistaken” before; however, a shrill whistling will come from any present unmatched with their correct owner, and no questionable characters have ever successfully stolen their fellow classmate’s gift.)
The Allegiance Academy: The Allegiance Academy does not traditionally give a break for the holidays. For a substantial part of the school’s history, the Allegiance Academy did not have the benefit of having a safe place to send its students during the holidays, and so the school opted to maintain its normal schedule rather than take a break its students could ill-afford. Modernly, the school remains open, even on Christmas Day, but students are free to leave and celebrate the holidays with their families. They are expected to make up the work they miss, but Professors are lenient and generally willing to help their students catch up, and to be honest most lighten their expectations and course-load during the month of December anyway. In the late 1960s, the school instituted a recess from normal classes between December 26th and January 1st. Students instead attend seven half-day lectures and practicums centered on the seven principles of Kwanzaa, which the school embraces as secular, sound, and in line with the guiding principles of the Allegiance Academy.
The Mesa Academy: The last few days of the Mesa Academy’s semester, between December 13th and December 21st, mark the period between final exams and the winter break, when, traditionally, students were returned home to help their families survive the coldest months of the year. During this nine day period, the students engage in a full schedule of special classes that focus on the traditions and ceremonies the various tribes of the Americas practiced during the winter season. Many tribes believed that the beginning of Winter was a time of imbalance and danger on the seasonal calendar, as the lengthening night and deepening cold continued to dominate the world. In order to set things right, many tribes performed special rites, ceremonies, and spells to ward off evil, prevent illness, and restore balance to nature. While many of these traditions were merely ceremonial, the witches and wizards of the tribes did work some magic into their practices to ward their families and communities from ill-fortune, sickness, and magical attack during the cold months. Students at the Mesa Academy learn and perform these secret ceremonies over the course of the nine days. Before the strictures on underage wizardry were put into place in the 1940s, they would have taken this knowledge home to serve their own families, but the tradition carries on regardless.
La Academia Occidental: La Academia honors its Catholic roots by holding holding a yearly “mass” on December 21st. Though the school has embraced a secular policy when it comes to the education of its students, the celebration remains as a way for students and teachers to come together to celebrate the school year’s halfway point and the beginning of a new year before students are dismissed for their winter holidays. The celebration takes the form of a large pageant, complete with performances by the EWE level choir, dancers, and drama classes, and often included special guest stars from amongst LAO’s cohort of famous alumni. This is followed by a massive feast and speeches by the Mother Superior and Monsignor. In the days leading up this celebration, the art students of LAO spend hours crafting decorations to adorn the school’s halls and classrooms. Paper lotus and poinsettias formed from pure light and sweet scents are strewn throughout the building, as the rattle of paper streamers in the breeze fills the air with carols, happy tunes, and soaring arias. The Professors would probably find these distractions unbearable were not they not given to giving their students a break in the week leading up the holiday. Classes in December tend to abandon practicality in favor of more interesting spells and assignments.
Laveau Academy: The Laveau Academy follows a different schedule than the other schools, and actually releases its students for an extended break starting on October 31st. Students don’t return until the beginning of January, so there is no yearly celebration at that school…”
Excerpt from Charles Goodson’s Of Saints and Sorcerers: Religious and Cultural Celebrations from Around the World, 1995