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Every winter, Hogwarts students return home and celebrate Christmas with their families. However, given their extensive use of magic, it does not seem likely they'd understand Christianity the way muggles would.

How and why do wizards observe Christmas?

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    I celebrate Christmas, but I'm not religious. I think a lot of people are the same. – Zoe May 3 '12 at 16:39
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    Regarding the reopen votes... even with the edits (which I heartily approve of), this is still a subjective, confrontational question. It is now also somewhat duplicate of the ground covered by these much better questions. I see no reason to reopen this. – Beofett May 4 '12 at 12:16
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    Related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/53774/… – Möoz May 5 '14 at 22:09
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    The question (especially in its original form, but even in the current, down-toned one) implies that witches/wizards cannot be Christian (or follow any other religion) because their knowledge of real magic provides them a rational explanation for those phenomena Muggles can only explain resorting to the supernatural. This is disproved by the books, for example: the Fat Friar was, well, a friar; the wizard's hospital is named after Saint Mungo; James' and Lily's tombstone is engraved with a verse from the Bible. – lfurini Dec 24 '17 at 14:28
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Many people (or Muggles, in this case) who generally do not believe in the supernatural or in anything of that sort still believe in God and Jesus. Why would wizards/witches be any different? They may see Jesus as a wizard, and his powers might seem similar to those of a wizard on the surface, but that does not necessarily mean that he is not the son of God or that he was a prophet. Wizards can celebrate Christmas for the same reasons as muggles.

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    With the edit, I'm not sure that this answers the question anymore. Wizards would be different because of the statement made in the question, this particular religion says they are going to hell. – Nathan C. Tresch May 3 '12 at 16:48
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    It very clearly contains a prohibition against the use of magic, and, what was asked is why would one celebrate a holiday that condemns wizards to hell. Regardless of what it says in the bible, dogma is that witches go to hell in most christian denominations. That's as theological as I'll go, but he doesn;t cite the bible at all, he asks about the religious teaching. – Nathan C. Tresch May 3 '12 at 17:46
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    False assertion. You can, beccause the dogmatic teaching is what he's asking about, not any reference to the bible. – Nathan C. Tresch May 3 '12 at 17:54
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    @NathanC.Tresch - Indeed? There’s certainly more than one way to interpret the passages that refer to witchcraft. Further, Christian prohibitions against witchcraft generally justify it by saying that it’s a learned art that derives its power from Satan. I suspect that Christians who clearly received their powers by birth - as a “gift from God” - wouldn’t view those powers in nearly the same light. Which might explain why religious Christians like John Granger love the Harry Potter series, or why Tolkien could give certain powers to humans and elves which were not “magic” (but effectively so). – Adamant Dec 25 '17 at 18:24
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    To elaborate on the issue of translation, there are two main places in the Bible where “witchcraft” is seemingly prohibited. The famous “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” (Exodus 22:18) and Deuteronomy 18:9 to 18:10. With the first one, many secular scholars believe it to be a mistranslation. It’s probably more like “somebody who uses herbs to poison people with” or “someone who uses herbs to do evil magic” or something along those lines. – Adamant Dec 25 '17 at 18:30
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+50

I believe that most every culture in the world has been shown to celebrate this day. In history, cultures that believed in magic, like the Celts, also celebrated a holiday with themes similar to Christmas. The holiday celebrated by various cultures was a celebration of the time when the Sun being out will begin taking up more and more of the day. Since it's historically been observed by most every culture, there's no reason that wizards wouldn't also celebrate it, regardless that they called it christmas instead of Yule.

Additionally, from a sociological perspective, they inherited their culture from muggles and generally people stick to what they were raised with.

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    I'm not the downvoter, but at a guess, it's this line: ...cultures that believed in magic...also celebrated Christmas by a different name. That doesn't make any sense. The Celts celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ but called the holiday something different? Perhaps you meant merely that the Celts celebrated a midwinter feast too, but the purpose of Christmas isn't primarily to be a midwinter feast. At most, the date of Christmas was fixed to be a midwinter feast, but even that is debatable. See e.g. here. – Kyralessa May 5 '12 at 22:17
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    Christmas is more globally celebrated now due to the export of American/European culture (including Christianity), but I'm not sure what universal themes you're referring to. Even European Christians haven't always celebrated Christmas in the same way or on the same day. Early celebrations were more like rowdy carnivals than a family holiday. And at various times, Epiphany was favored over Christmas, or Christmas was outright banned. Also, Christmas does not coincide with the winter solstice or other winter holidays which are also nothing like Christmas in theme. – Lèse majesté Jul 19 '13 at 0:08
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    Eve assuming Christmas has always been about celebrating the winter solstice, what Muslim or Jewish or Chinese or African or Indian holidays fall on December 25th? – Lèse majesté Jul 19 '13 at 19:08
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    I'm pretty sure that Hanukkah is a celebration of the Maccabean Revolt and the rededication of the Second Temple. Being that it starts on 25th of Kiev, which coincides with late November to late December, it does occasionally overlap with the winter solstice, but to speculate that there is some other hidden connection there with the winter solstice is just that, speculation. The story of Hanukkah written in First and Second Maccabees make no mention of the winter solstice. At least Christmas consistently falls within 3-4 days of the winter solstice. – Lèse majesté Jul 22 '13 at 2:21
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    @NathanC.Tresch, is it possible for a culture or religion to celebrate a holiday at or near the time of the winter solstice without that holiday thereby being about the winter solstice? I get the impression that your answer would be no. Does every holiday have to be inspired by the time of year in which it takes place? Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, you know. – Kyralessa Jun 5 '15 at 0:34
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In my opinion, its to ensure that the muggles and the wizards have their schedule in sync to prevent any curiosity between muggle and wizard.

For instance, if a neighbor sees that another neighbor's kid doesn't have a winter vacation, questions will pop up. Investigations and the works, until the Wizards are exposed.

So basically its just make the kids seem normal to the muggle world.

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    Wrong, they actually celebrate Christmas, give presents etc... Mind you, whether giving Christmas presents has anything to do with the religious holiday is a totally different can of worms – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 3 '12 at 16:29
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    School breaks are school breaks - regardless of how the students use it or what holidays they celebrate. – phantom42 May 3 '12 at 16:36
  • +1 as it doesn't matter how they celebrate if this is indeed the reason, they may be giving gifts because it's a generally nice thing to do and they are pantomiming the holiday anyhow, or any number of other reasons to exchange gifts. That assertion doesn't actually disprove his answer. – Nathan C. Tresch May 3 '12 at 17:57
  • @DVK If only that had made it into the answers before the question was closed, I think that's the real reason: Christmas has been so commercialized that it's difficult to call it a religious holiday anymore... – Izkata May 4 '12 at 0:06
  • Is there any quotes to back this up? – user87732 Aug 8 '17 at 18:16
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Simply because wizards seem to actually believe in Jesus

The fact that wizards do things that once were being considered diabolic by the Catholic Church does not necessarily mean that they do not believe in God.

We can see cases that wizard priests appear in the books (e.g. the pastor at Dumbledore's funeral, the priest that married Bill and Fleur), and are very alike to the ones that British and the American people are used to in their everyday lifes. That logically points to that wizards also believe in Jesus, or in some variation of Him and the three predominant christianic dogmas (Western Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and British).

Although that celebrating Christmas in order to be "in-sync" with the Muggles is a good point, there's no sense in exchanging gifts, decorating trees and having dinners just for suspision avoidance.

Maybe there is a part of the British Church that operates in the wizard community secretly and their hypothetical change of heart to the beliefs and the condemns of the Dark Ages' "Witch Hunt" can be paralleled to the modernization that happened on the sexual direction of the priests (gay marriage, homosexual priests etc) that once were considered deadly sins and sicknesses.

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Assuming that the stories told about Jesus in the Bible are accurate, Jesus may have been a wizard. There is good reason that he would have been revered among wizards, because he did things that none of them could do. For example:

  1. He was able to transfigure food
  2. He resurrected

While performing magic in front of muggles is frowned of today, that wouldn't have been taboo in Jesus's day, because the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy wasn't adopted until 1692.

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    With the edit this answer doesn't make much sense anymore to me, there isn't an assumption of Jesus being a wizard stated, and if he were a wizard there is still a prohibition against magic taught in most churches and magic users are said to be going to hell for it, so it doesnt address the question. – Nathan C. Tresch May 3 '12 at 17:50
  • @NathanC.Tresch I think the answer does still address the underlying question. I've made some minor edits to adapt it to the edited question. Dave, please review my edits, feel free to disagree. – user56 May 5 '12 at 16:41
  • @Gilles looks good to me. Thanks! :) – Dave DeLong May 5 '12 at 16:44
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Perhaps they are celebrating Yule, which is what the Christmas holiday is based off of. Yule is a celebration of winter solstice and would seem like a natural fit for witches and wizards to celebrate.

Perhaps the wizarding community adopted the name of Christmas as it seemed less conspicuous to muggles (even though Yule is now a recognized holiday) when they went through a Christianization. We don't actually see anything about what wizards/witches do on Christmas other than have a tree inside their house (a Yule tradition) and exchanging of gifts. We aren't given other clues as to any rituals or spiritual traditions that would say if they are Christian or not.

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    I think this might be a dupe of my answer? – Nathan C. Tresch May 3 '12 at 17:51
  • I don't think so. You mentioned that wizards have every right to celebrate what they want, I'm proposing that they aren't celebrating Christmas at all. – OghmaOsiris May 3 '12 at 19:53
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    I also said that they were probably celebrating yule, later in the answer, "Since it's historically been observed by most every culture, there's no reason that wizards wouldn't also celebrate it, regardless that they called it christmas instead of Yule." – Nathan C. Tresch May 3 '12 at 20:00
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I believe it is similar to the real world, where (at least in Europe) people who are not very religious still celebrate Christmas to some degree.

As other people mentioned, in the ancient times people celebrated the winter solstice and later Christmas was established by Christianity. In the XX century people in western Europe became less and less religious, some calling themselves atheists or agnostics, some just didn't visit church too often. But still these people followed some Christmas traditions like decorating a Christmas tree, singing carols, giving themselves gifts or having a festive meal. We still can find some Christmas decorations in public places like shopping malls and radio stations keep playing themed songs. We can tell that Christmas has become a secular holiday for the whole societies: for some people it has a religious dimensions, some people are just having some rest and fun.

The religion is never mentioned across Harry Potter books, but it doesn't imply that magic society is 100% atheist. It is possible that some of the wizards are religious, but it is not explicitly shown in the canon. Most of them may just follow the tradition and enjoy the occasion to spend some time with family. Probably there are some wizards who don't celebrate Christmas at all (I can't imagine Voldemort singing carols or preparing a pudding).

As for Hogwarts, it seems that Christmas is a good opportunity to have a longer break, allowing students and teachers to visit their families they don't see for most of the year and to have some rest in the middle of a school year. It is also an occasion to have some social integration for the lonely employees and students staying at Hogwarts, satisfying their emotional need for belongingness, providing some substitute of the family.

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