Christmas at Hogwarts

Dear Diary,
Today I woke up early seeing as it was Christmas morning. I came down to the common room earlier than any of the other Ravenclaws. And of course, it was beautifully decorated! The Christmas tree was even bigger this year! The theme of the tree was blue and silver, and there were all kind of ornaments! Snow Crystals, Silver Angels, Sapphire Blue baubles and of course tinsel! There was evergreen above the mantle, but instead of ribbons, the evergreen was hung with shoes! Red sneakers with green leaves on, pink boots with purple lace and yellow and blue Wellingtons. I suspect Luna had something to do with that! I found my presents under the tree. One from mum and dad which turned out to be a whole year’s supply of paint and brushes for my art! The other present was from granny and it was a beautiful first edition of “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”with the original illustrations. Granny knows how much I love books! After I had opened my presents I went into the Great Hall for breakfast. I am always so excited to see how the Christmas decorations look each year! The first thing I saw when I entered the hall was the ceiling. It was enchanted, of course, to look like the winter sky, dark blue with white snow, but the most magical part was a train, looking exactly like the Hogwarts express, chugging around on invisible tracks. From the train windows I saw little elves waiving at me, and the driver of the train was Father Christmas himself laughing and smoking a pipe. There was of course also music in the hall, softly played carols, and when I saw where the music was coming from I squealed with delight because what was playing the music were more than a hundred music boxes exactly in tune with each other! All the music boxes were different from each other though, but they all depicted scenes within a snow globe, and when I examined them thoroughly I saw that the scenes were changing every five minutes or so. My favorite scene was the one from Hogsmeade showing a young couple dancing and laughing outside the Shrieking Shack while the ghost of a ballerina was making faces at them and trying to outcompete them on the roof of the Shrieking Shack. I also loved the scene from the Yule ball in Hogwarts, Cornish pixies were stealing champagne from a fountain in the middle of the room and swinging from the Christmas ornaments in the trees. And then of course there was this year’s tree! It was magical! All covered in snow from the winter ceiling, and Christmas lights made to look like twinkling stars, and on top of the tree was a perfect half moon glowing in silver and white. When I looked closer at the tree I saw that it also had tiny fairies sitting on the branches drinking hot chocolate and playing miniature Wizard’s chess. They were a bit shy though, and jumped when they saw me so I decided to give them some space, so I settled down for some breakfast. My friends Cat and Cecil came to join me and they showed me their presents. Breakfast was delicious of course! My favorite type of chocolate cake was there and grilled cheese sandwiches and chips and cinnamon buns. Mysteriously they always have everyone’s favorites in Hogwarts, especially on Christmas morning. The candles floated in the air as always, and soon the Great Hall was full of children and teachers. After breakfast my friends and I decided to go sledding. Hagrid, with the help of some last years, had built a perfect sledding slope from the astronomy tower, and it was almost like being on a roller coaster! But I have to admit that I used my wand all the time as a break, I suspect some of the other kids did as well. By afternoon we were a bit tired and cold so we retreated to our Ravenclaw common room to have cocoa in front of the fireplace. All in all it was just a perfect Christmas Day, and I am going to enjoy the rest of the holidays as well. Christmas at Hogwarts is almost better than Christmas at home!

Happy Holidays!
From Trini


The most beautiful Christmas Tree

It was a few days before Christmas and the school holidays had begun. The streets and the trees were covered in snow and the whole world seemed ready for Christmas. In one red and white house two children, a little girl about seven and a boy three years older, were eagerly anticipating Christmas. They were so eagerly anticipating that their father was losing his mind and to get them out of the house he told them that they could go into the forest and find one small Christmas tree each to have in their rooms. The two children were ecstatic! They had never before been allowed to have their own tree! The boy was given a small ax and a saw and was sternly told to be careful. He nodded obediently and took his little sister’s hand and together they disappeared into the white and green forest. They walked for a while hand in hand before the little girl exclaimed: Look! Look, there is the perfect tree right there! She pointed to a tall spruce with dense branches covered in snow. Her brother shook his head. “No, no that is too big.” But the little girl wouldn’t take no for an answer so he gave in like he always did when his sister really wanted something. The tree was heavy to carry, but between them they managed. Now it was the boy’s turn to pick one. He didn’t want to let his sister outcompete him so he chose a tree slightly bigger than hers. This tree was even heavier to carry, and the two little children really struggled to get home. The snow seemed to have gotten even deeper since they left their house and they kicked and breathed hard up the hill to their home.

When they finally made it home their father was waiting for them, but when he saw the trees they were carrying his face changed from anticipation to anger. “ I told you to find a small tree each for your rooms! These trees are even too big to fit in our living room!” he shouted angrily. The children’s faces fell. “ But daddy, these were the best trees in the forest!” said the little girl. But when they tried to fit the trees in their rooms they saw that their father had been right. They were much too big. “ Okay, this is what we will do,” said the father after he had calmed down a bit, “We will cut a bit off the bottom of the smallest tree and keep it in the living room as our family tree, the other one will become firewood.”

The boy hung his head a bit, he was disappointed to see his beautiful tree becoming firewood, but his sister smiled from ear to ear knowing that it was her tree that would adorn the living room on Christmas Eve beautifully decorated for all the guests to see. When Christmas Eve finally came the little girl proudly told her grandparents, her cousins and all her uncles and aunts that it was she who had fetched this year’s tree in the forest. Her father, a bit embarrassed, confirmed her story, and they all agreed that that year’s Christmas tree was the most beautiful tree they had ever seen.

This is a true story about my brother and I and one of our childhood Christmases in Norway.

All the illustrations are by the magical Lisi Martin.

The Littlest Santa Claus

When I was a little girl I firmly believed in Santa Claus, or “Julenissen “ as we call him in Norway. But being a very informed and sensible child with a strong sense of logic, I did not buy into the idea of one man delivering presents to all the children of the world in one night, and in a sleigh pulled by reindeer? No, that was definitely NOT plausible. Besides, most of my presents came from my parents and family, and I also knew for a fact that many kids did not receive gifts for Christmas. Our neighbors were Jehova’s Witnesses, and those children certainly did not get any presents. So how could I believe in Santa then? Well, I had heard the legend of Saint Nicholas who gave presents to all the poor children and how his spirit inspired the idea of Santa Claus. I also knew about the Scandinavian Nisse, the little gnome who lived on farms and demanded porridge every Christmas Eve, otherwise he would not help take care of the animals and the farm and would rather make a ruckus of everything. So I decided that Santa Claus was a spirit, a Christmas spirit, that inspired generosity, kindness and compassion, and that anyone who became bearers of these characteristics could truthfully call themselves Santa Claus, therefore, Santa Claus existed, and anyone adopting the role with a pure heart became Santa. So that is what I did one Christmas Eve. I became Santa Claus.

I was probably about 8-9 years old and was the middle child in the flock of cousins. I had one older cousin plus my older brother and three younger cousins, and I was particularly fond of the two youngest boys who were just 3 and 5 years old. I had pleaded with my mother to let me be Santa Claus on Christmas Eve the whole month of December, and she had finally given in, saying it would be the littlest Santa anyone had ever seen. But that did not stop her from going all out buying me a red furry coat, a red top hat, fake beard and glasses ( I had never liked those horrible plastic masks). On Christmas Eve, right after dinner while the men were having coffee and cognac and the women were doing the dishes, I excused myself saying I had to use the bathroom, and snuck down in the basement where my costume was hidden. I was giggling the whole time, I was so excited to try out my long practiced North Pole accent, and to see the faces of the little kids as I asked them if they had been good that year. I stuffed my Santa suit full of pillows, tucked the beard into my red top hat and tried out my Ho! Ho! Ho! one last time before ascending the staircase with my huge old sack filled with presents. I felt…magical! In that moment I really was Santa Claus! I checked myself before firmly knocking on the living room door while asking with my deep and heavily accented voice: «Er det noen snille barn her?» Which means: Are there any good children here? As soon as I entered, the adults started chuckling quietly, and the little kids looked at me very suspiciously, but my older cousins played along and convinced the little ones that it really was Santa visiting. I handed out the presents while putting on quite the show, telling stories from the North Pole and doing my belly laugh every time someone accepted a present. When my sack was empty I wished them all a very merry Christmas and told them I had to get back to my reindeer waiting in the forest (I knew the little kids would check the roof through the ceiling window if I said they were on the roof) before I hunched down under the weight of my five pillows and exited the living room, waving and Ho! Ho! Ho’ing! the whole time. I climbed down the stairs and headed out in the snow through the front door while chiming a cow bell my mother had given me. The kids were watching me through the window as I disappeared into the dark snowy forest. I am not sure the grown-ups were quite aware of this part of the performance, but they didn’t stop me. I waited five minutes before I headed back to the house. As soon as I came into the living room I exclaimed disappointedly: Has Santa already been here? The small boys nodded and handed me my present from Santa. “oh, darn,” I said “Typical I had to go to the bathroom and miss the whole thing!” I heard lot of subdued laughter from the adults, but they all played along telling me I had missed a great show! I smiled to myself and thought happily: I knew it, anyone can be Santa Claus, even a quite small girl with fake beard and five pillows stuffed under her sweater!

* The beautiful artwork above is done by the magical Lisi Martin.

Light a Candle (Tenn Lys)

Light a candle! One candle will burn for this little earth
The shiny star in heaven, where we all share a home.
May all find hope, so good things can happen,
May earth and heaven meet. A candle is lit for that.

Light a candle! Two candles will shine for love and faith,
For those who show compassion and always seek to reconcile.
May prisoners have their freedom and refugees a home.
Light a candle for those who are crying and those who comfort them.

Light a candle! Three candles will shine for all those who have to fight
For justice and for freedom, for they need our support.
May no one lose their hope until all people can live as one.
Light a candle for those who fight for freedom and for their human rights.

Light a candle! Four candles are shining for Him
who loves all that lives, every lion and every lamb.
Light a candle for the heavenly king
the shepherds saw on the holy night.
Now heaven and earth will be one
in this heavenly child asleep on a bed of hay and straw.

* This is the Norwegian Advent prayer song written by Eyvind Skeie and here translated to English by yours truly 😊😊

The Year Without a Santa Claus

“The Year Without a Santa Claus” is a 1974 American stop motion “puppet” film produced by the legendary duo Rankin & Bass. The film is based on the children’s book by the same name written by Phyllis McGinley and illustrated by Kurt Werth.

This film has that old-time American charm which I just love! It is made in a time when filmmaking was not only about people pleasing and money making, but rather about creativity, art and a desire to bring something of real value to the world. I love the artistry in these old stop motion movies, like how beautifully the puppets are made, how the colors are true to the 1950s fashion ( The book was published in 1956) and the whimsical design of the Christmas tree decorations.

The story is not super impressive, but that is not the point of this movie. The charm lies in the yesteryear’s Christmas atmosphere, the sweet songs we all know and love, and in the creativity of the homemade sceneries where you can actually recognize the different materials used to transform little trinkets into movie magic.

I, as many of you know, love everything vintage, and this movie is no exception. My favorite part of the film is towards the end when Santa Claus arrives in the little town with his sleigh and presents to the tunes of “Santa Claus is coming to town”. It can’t get more Christmassy than that! ❤️🤶🏻🎅🏼❤️.

Pettersson und Findus – Das schönste weihnachten überhaupt (Pettersson and Findus)

“Pettersson and Findus” is a German Christmas film from 2016 based on the Picture book series “Pettson and Findus” by the beloved Swedish author Sven Nordqvist.
This lovely little film is a combination of live action and animation done so beautifully that even the adults will for a second forget that it is not really real. The movie, despite being German, has that beautiful Scandinavian old-fashioned charm with shabby wooden furniture painted blue, wool and felt clothing, home-weaved rugs, and of course the typical red and evergreen Christmas.

Pettersson and Findus is definitely a film for the smallest children, but adults can enjoy the little details the kids won’t pick up, like the atmospheric sceneries, the vintage interior decor and the overall sweet and cozy charm. This movie is, to me, the very definition of the Scandinavian concept of Hygge.

The story is about farmer Pettersson who lives alone with his cat Findus in a little cottage in the Swedish countryside. It is the day before Christmas and Findus has decided that this is going to be the best Christmas ever. It is up to Pettersson to make this wish come true. But Pettersson has one problem, he is not very good at accepting help, so when he falls and sprains his foot, it is looking rather bleak for Findus and his dream Christmas. Will Findus be able to convince Pettersson to accept the help he needs or will he have to come to terms with the fact that this Christmas might not become everything he has dreamed it to be.

I love the humble lessons in this film, how we must learn to not just help others, but also accept help ourselves sometimes. And how the biggest magic is often not the kind you can buy for money, but is rather found in the wonders and splendor of nature and in the love of friend.

This magical film is, as mentioned before, best suited the smallest children, but adults with a special love for Christmas, vintage and nostalgia will definitely love it too. To me, this film is a breath of fresh air in an industry dominated by commercialism and sameness. If you want to watch something different than your regular Christmas blockbusters I definitely recommend this gem of a film.

Of course, five out of five stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

P.S This movie is available on Netflix 🎅🏼❤️🎅🏼❤️🎅🏼❤️

An Old-Fashioned Norwegian Christmas

In Norway Christmas starts on what we call Little Christmas Eve, which is the 23rd of December. On that day most schools and offices are already closed. The celebrations start on Little Christmas Eve evening. When I was a little girl we would all, the whole family, gather together to decorate the Christmas tree, which was of course always a real Norway Spruce. My mother would fill the table with Christmas cookies and gløgg, which is spiced or mulled wine, with a non-alcoholic version for the kids made from blackcurrant juice.

Gløgg or Spiced Wine.

My brother and I would unwrap all the Christmas tree ornaments, and we would laugh and tell stories about the origin of each ornament. My mother would get a new Christmas tree ornament every year, a tradition I have kept up with now as an adult. My father was always the one to put the lights and the Christmas star on the tree. After we had decorated the tree we would each fetch the presents we had kept secretly hidden in our rooms and put under the tree. This was the most exciting part of the evening, especially for us kids. When the Christmas tree was ready and shining in all its glory close to the window (most Norwegians put their tree somewhere close to the window so that people can see it from outside. A very cozy thing to do, I think!) we would gather in front of the TV.

The Christmas Tree in my parents’ house.

Every year there is a special “The eve-before-the-Eve” program on TV featuring a special beloved skit at the end. My mother would serve us rice porridge with melted butter sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. We ate one bowl each and then we had to save the rest of the porridge for the next day when my mother would turn it into cold Rice Cream pudding with crushed strawberry sauce (strawberries picked from my granny’s garden last summer). The skit at the end of the program is the same every year, it is an old British black-and-white skit called “Dinner for one”. Little Christmas Eve is still not the same for me without it. Thank God, it is now available on YouTube!

A still from the skit “Dinner for one”.

The next day my brother and I would wake up to the smell of Christmas. To me that is the smell of pine needles, burning birch twigs in the fireplace, rutabaga mash, and lamb being boiled on twigs from the forest. Even after I became vegetarian at 11 years old, the smell of the slow-boiling lamb-on-sticks still instills the warm feeling of family Christmas in me.

Christmas Soda or Julebrus in Norwegian.

My brother and I would get up at 8 am to a wonderful Christmas breakfast spread consisting of Dutch cheese, potato salad, ham, scrambled eggs, fruit salad and smoked salmon. My mother always told us to eat well as she would not serve another meal until the evening. But we never really got hungry during the day anyway because we spent the rest of the day munching on marzipan, chocolates, Christmas cookies, doughnuts and gingerbread, washed down with what we call Christmas Soda in Norway, which is a kind of raspberry soda pop only available at Christmas time.

Most children in Norway spend the day watching Christmas cartoons on TV just waiting for the day to pass and the evening to arrive. My brother loved the vintage Disney cartoons, like Donald Duck and the snowball fight, Mickey Mouse in the Christmas carol, and Chip and Dale and the Christmas Tree. My favorites were “Three wishes for Cinderella”, a Czech film from the 1970s (I have reviewed this film here: and the Norwegian classic “The journey to the Christmas Star” (This is a review of the newer version of this film ).

Our local Church in the forest.

My family never really went to Church as I was raised in an Atheist family, but I developed the habit myself when I was a little older. I mostly went so that I could sing the Christmas carols and get in the Christmas spirit. Our local Church is only 3 minutes’ walk away from my parents’ house. It is located inside a forest. The Church would have three services as there were just too many people to manage with just one. I used to go to the service around 2 pm. Sometimes my granny would accompany me.

The Silver Boys or Sølvguttene in Norwegian.

5 pm is the official Christmas time in Norway. That is when the Church Bells will “chime the Christmas in” as we say in Norway. I would always open all the windows so that the beautiful sound of the bells would fill the house. This was not always so popular as it is very cold outside in late December in Norway, and the church being just 3 minutes away (perhaps around 300 meters?) the sound from the church bells would be rather loud. Another thing that happens at 5 pm is that the Silver Boys (a Boys’ Choir) have a Christmas concert on TV, directly broadcasted from Oslo Cathedral. I still need to hear this concert in order to feel that yes, Christmas has really arrived.

At 6 pm the guests would arrive. My mother always preferred to host the Christmas party so most of my Childhood Christmases were spent at home. All my cousins, with their parents, and my grandparents would come. For each guest that arrived the space under the tree would grow narrower and narrower until the whole living room floor would just be an ocean of presents. Norwegians are really big on presents! It might not always be the most expensive gifts, but we love to make each other laugh and buy little things like a pair of socks or a chocolate bar or a bottle of wine, and wrap it in small individual presents, just to make the quantity of presents more.

Norwegian Rice Cream Pudding with Strawberry sauce.

My family are not religious so most of the evening revolved around the presents. Us kids would not be able to sit still during the dinner as we were just too excited to start the gift giving. But the adults would of course drag it out as long as they could, with my aunties doing the dishes in the kitchen and my uncles having coffee and cognac in the living room. Before opening of the presents we would have the Rice Cream Pudding my mother had prepared that morning, and hiding inside the Rice Pudding was a blanched almond. The one that found the almond in their pudding would get a small gift, mostly a marzipan pig covered in chocolate. This would always be a fun affair, accusing each other of hiding the almond so that everyone would eat more pudding.

Marzipan Pig.

When we were really small my uncle would dress up like Santa (Nisse in Norwegian) and give us extra Santa presents (these were different and often smaller than the “real” presents under the tree). We would always be a little scared of Santa, even though we understood quite early on that it was our uncle under the costume.

Me as a little girl in the national costume trying on my new skis.

Then finally the gift giving would start. In my family there would be one who would “announce” the presents, which was normally me, and one assistant who would hand out the present to the right person. I would read the label on the present out loud while everyone paid keen attention. The labels would often be funny or cryptic like “To my dear wife from your devoted husband” (leaving us to guess who was the recipient and who was the giver) or “To my lovely owner from Missy the cat”. Some labels might even have riddles or small verses on. We would always sit and wait for the recipient of the gift to unwrap it, and then he or she would show the content of the gift to everyone. This is why sometimes we would buy each other funny presents, like underpants or a back scratcher or a tiny chocolate wrapped inside a huge box. We would always laugh at the funny gifts together and marvel at the special gifts. My mother would always give me what I had put on the top of my wish list, which had as much to do with my sensible view on economy as her generosity, but it was still thrilling each year to see if she had bought me the “right” gift that year too.

Italian Christmas Cake.

The gift exchange would go on to past midnight and by the time it was over we would all be tired. Still, there was more eating to be done. My mother would bring out the Italian Christmas cake, a soft cake with a Cointreau filling (orange liqueur) covered in hardened chocolate, especially imported from Italy. Then we would pop the French Champagne, and even us kids got to taste a sip. Finally, by 1 am it would all be over and the guests would leave. My brother, my father and I would go to bed, leaving my mother to clean up. Something she actually preferred because after she finished she would put her feet up, have another glass of Champagne and watch the Pope’s Christmas speech directly from the Vatican.

My auntie’s house all decorated for Christmas.

Next day my brother and I woke up to Christmas stockings filled with chocolates, Christmas comics and another little gift. Christmas day was spent playing with our toys and attending another Christmas Party in the evening, often at one of my aunties’ house.

Romjul is the perfect time to play in the snow and build Snow People.

The time between Christmas and New Year, called Romjul in Norwegian, was mostly spent attending Christmas parties and meeting up with friends. Another custom we enjoyed when we were little was dressing up as Santas and going caroling. All the neighbors would be ready for the little carolers with gifts of chocolates and candy. We would always go caroling at night with red Christmas lanterns, and this made it extra atmospheric and exciting.

Me and my best friend’s little brother dressed up as Santas, ready to go caroling.

Then by New Year’s Eve it was all over. Most Christmas trees are taken down after New Year’s Eve, and by January fourth schools and offices reopen.

Granny’s old-fashioned Christmas Decorations.

I still carry with me a lot of these traditions today, even though I have swapped out some of them with more spiritual traditions adopted from here and there. I have also made up a lot of new traditions myself, and of course I’ve had to rewrite my whole Christmas menu after becoming vegetarian at 11. After living in India for some time, my Christmas smells now include the scent of sandalwood, incense, Cinnamon, cardamom, Irish Coffee and Vanilla. But I still have to watch “Three wishes for Cinderella” and “Dinner for one” every year, and still the beautiful sound of the Silver Boys “singing in” Christmas fills my house every Christmas Eve at 5 pm.

Old-fashioned Norwegian Nisse in Granny’s House.

I am wishing all of you a happy holiday season. Remember, Christmas is what you make of it yourself, so don’t hesitate to start new traditions or repeat the old ones from your childhood, no matter where you are in the world and with whom you celebrate with.