The best Christmas scenes in English literature.

The best Christmas scenes in English literature.

For your holiday enjoyment, I present to you the (highly subjective) best Christmas scenes in English literature.

(As you will see, I’m using the word “literature” loosely, because it’s more fun that way.)

Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

Harry and his friends elect to stay at Hogwarts during their first Christmas holiday break.

After a meal of turkey sandwiches, crumpets, trifle, and Christmas cake, everyone felt too full and sleepy to do much before bed except sit and watch Percy chase Fred and George all over Gryffindor tower because they’d stolen his prefect badge.

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Catherine has just returned to the manor after recovering from an injured ankle. The house is preparing for Christmas but Heathcliff has hid himself from Catherine, as Nelly, our narrator, ponders their lot.

Under these circumstances I remained solitary. I smelt the rich scent of the heating spices; and admired the shining kitchen utensils, the polished clock, decked in holly, the silver mugs ranged on a tray ready to be filled with mulled ale for supper; and above all, the speckless purity of my particular care—the scoured and well-swept floor. I gave due inward applause to every object, and then I remembered how old Earnshaw used to come in when all was tidied, and call me a cant lass, and slip a shilling into my hand as a Christmas-box; and from that I went on to think of his fondness for Heathcliff, and his dread lest he should suffer neglect after death had removed him: and that naturally led me to consider the poor lad’s situation now, and from singing I changed my mind to crying. It struck me soon, however, there would be more sense in endeavouring to repair some of his wrongs than shedding tears over them: I got up and walked into the court to seek him.

Bridget Jones

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

It’s Mark Darcy to the rescue when Bridget’s family gathering is hijacked by her mother’s ex-lover.

“Come on,” said Mark Darcy.
“What” I said.
“Don’t say ‘what.’ Bridget, say ‘pardon,’” hissed Mum.
“Mrs. Jones,” said Mark firmly. “I am taking Bridget away to celebrate what is left of the Baby Jesus’s birthday.”
I took a big breath and grasped mark Darcy’s proffered hand.
“Merry Christmas, everyone,” I said with a gracious smile. “I expected we’ll see you all at the Turkey Curry Buffet.”

great expectations

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Pip joins his sister’s family for Christmas dinner and fears the moment they notice he stole the mincemeat pie reserved for dessert. First, a guest arrives.

Every Christmas Day he presented himself, as a profound novelty, with exactly the same words, and carrying the two bottles like dumbbells. Every Christmas Day, Mrs Joe replied, as she now replied, “Oh, Un — cle Pum — ble — chook! This IS kind!” Every Christmas Day, he retorted, as he now retorted, “It’s no more than your merits. And now are you all bobbish, and how’s Sixpennorth of halfpence?” meaning me.

perusasion

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Immediately surrounding Mrs. Musgrove were the little Harvilles, whom she was sedulously guarding from the tyranny of the two children from the Cottage, expressly arrived to amuse them. On one side was a table occupied by some chattering girls, cutting up silk and gold paper; and on the other were tressels and trays, bending under the weight of brawn and cold pies, where riotous boys were holding high revel; the whole completed by a roaring Christmas fire, which seemed determined to be heard in spite of all the noise of the others.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

Everyone came to the pageant to see what the Herdmans would do. Imogene and Ralph looked like refugees sent to wait in a strange place with all their boxes and sacks around them. “Hey!” Unto you a child is born” hollered Gladys. The Wisemen marched up the aisle but instead of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrhh they brought their own ham from the food basket. Imogene, who was holding a doll, started to cry. The pageant now had a new meaning. It was about a new baby and his mother and father, who were in a lot of trouble.

What would you add to the list?

best christmas scenes in literature

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60 comments

  1. Thora says:

    Not counting the other children’s literature mentioned here (Little House books, Little Women, Narnia) I was thinking about the Dark is Rising book by Susan Cooper. It’s British and takes place at Christmastime and is about a huge family celebrating Christmas. Plus it’s fantasy, and involves a ton of old British mythology and seasonal practices (Merlin! Solstice! The Wren hunt on St. Stephen’s Day! The Wild Hunt!)

    Of course, in not children’s literature (not sure how Harry Potter made the adult cut?) there is Christmas Carol as the most quintessential Christmas Scene in Literature at all (God Bless us, every one.)

  2. Jennifer says:

    So, this is only English Literature if we consider literature written in English…but this touched me so that I wanted to include it!

    Perhaps my favorite part of A Gentleman in Moscow was the scene where the Count recalled Christmases past (Adent chapter, obv.). This is where I really fell in love with the book. The whole chapter is lovely, but this from pg. 88:

    “But whether they ventured to the one, the other, or somewhere else entirely, there would be a feast, a fire, and open arms. There would be bright dresses, and flushed skin, and sentimental uncles making misty-eyed toasts as children spied front he stairs. And the music? There would be songs that emptied your glass and called you to your feet. Songs that led you to leap and alight in a manner that belied your age. Songs that made your reel and spin until you lost your bearings not only between the parlor and the salon, but between heaven and earth.”

    *Swoon*

  3. Renee says:

    Christmas in Narnia (The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe) has always been one of my favorites! When the White Witch starts to fall & Santa arrives, it’s just so joyful!
    (Also, not Christmas related, but I just watched the 1995 Pride & Prejudice for the first time, Swoon!!)

  4. Mallo says:

    It’s British and takes place at Christmastime and is about a huge family celebrating Christmas. Plus it’s fantasy, and involves a ton of old British mythology and seasonal practices

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