For Harry, receiving his first Weasley jumper was a surprise, not least because at that point he had only met Ron’s mum very briefly. But from the outset Molly Weasley seemed to sense instinctively what Harry needed: a family who would actually care for him.
So Harry’s first Weasley jumper – an emerald-green creation that came with a large box of home-made fudge – was Molly’s way of welcoming him to the fold. She was moved to add a jumper for Harry to her knitting pile after Ron said Harry wasn’t expecting any presents. Sure enough, within a year or two, he was basically part of the family. It’s almost as if the jumper itself bestowed upon Harry some honorary Weasley status. Fred and George helped Ron rescue him from the Dursley’s; Arthur secured an extra Quidditch World Cup ticket for him; Molly comforted him after Cedric’s death. (Of course, much later, Ginny actually married him, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.)
In the meantime, every year, there was a new Weasley jumper for Harry. Which must have taken some doing, if you think about it. Even if Molly used magic to help with her festive knitwear production line, she had at least 8 to produce every year: one for each of her own 7 children, plus Harry, and that’s assuming there were no other jumper recipients on her list.
But the effort was what it was all about – even though, let’s face it, not everybody appreciated a Weasley jumper. Ron complained his were always maroon, Malfoy once mocked Harry’s, and when Percy was estranged from his family, he sent it back unopened.
Still, Molly kept making them. For her, it was about more than the item itself. The real magic was in its creation, and we don’t just mean the wand-work. Whatever the finished item looked like, receiving a Weasley jumper on Christmas morning was a clear demonstration of Molly’s affection for the recipient. It said: ‘you’re part of this family.’ No wonder Dobby was so pleased when Ron bestowed one on him one Christmas. Dobby definitely didn’t mind maroon.
And so the Weasley Christmas jumper became a regular festive tradition. We can just picture Harry and the Weasleys lounging around after Christmas dinner at The Burrow, woolly jumpers on for a snooze on the sofa. Or Ron and Harry wearing one under a Hogwarts cloak, keeping warm as they threw snowballs at Fred and George. And no doubt they were perfect for keeping off the chill of those draughty Hogwarts corridors.
The Weasley jumper was also a masterclass in gift-giving, if you ask us. A hand-made gift, unique to the wearer, lovingly created with a specific individual in mind? It ticks a lot of boxes (even if Mrs Weasley did repeatedly forget that Ron didn’t like maroon…)
Overall, though, the Weasley jumper was important because of what it represented – particularly to Harry, who had never before experienced what it was like to be part of a warm, loving, slightly chaotic family. Cosy, comforting, and with ample space to snuggle in, it was basically an extension of the Weasley family home. Those jumpers did a lot more than keep out the chill for Harry. Right from the very beginning, they were symbolic of the very thing he needed: a family who actually cared for him.
Bring on Weasley jumper season, we say.