31 October, the night of Halloween, is a special day in the Harry Potter Universe. Generally, it is around that time the books main plots start to unfold, as discussed in this blog post.
Halloween began as the festival of Samhain. It was part of the ancient Celtic religion in Britain and other parts of Europe. Towards the end of summer, the Celts thought the barrier between the human world and the world of ghosts and spirits got really thin and that these could move through to our world. So the Celts had a big party, which purpose was scaring away the ghosts and spirits.
Till the Irish immigrants to the United States raised the popularity of Halloween during the 19th century, it wasn’t really a thing in the muggle world. But it seems like a worthy feast to have on a school of witchcraft and wizardry.
And it seems to be a key celebration at Hogwarts indeed. It was a time for which Hagrid would have been growing enormous pumpkins and Dumbledore prepared suitable entertainment (as the skeleton trio playing in the Chamber of Secrets and house ghosts entertaining in the Prisoner of Azkaban).
…they reached the Entrance Hall and crossed into the Great Hall. It had been decorated with hundreds and hundreds of candle filled pumpkins, a cloud of fluttering bats and many flaming orange streamers, which were swimming lazily across the stormy ceiling like brilliant watersnakes.
But 31 October is not just the night of Halloween. It is also the date Harry’s parents were killed by Lord Voldemort, a day of sadness for Harry Potter, but celebrated in the Wizarding world as the day Voldemort vanished. So a very special day indeed, in the Harry Potter universe.
Professor Quirrell came sprinting into the Hall, his turban askew and terror on his face. Everyone stared as he reached professor Dumbledore’s chair, slumped against the table and gasped, “Troll – in the dungeons – thought you ought to know”.
He then sank to the floor in a dead faint.
I’ve recreated two of the Halloween scenes from the books in my Great Hall model, as it seemed as the point in the books where the storyline generally starts to unfold. In summary:
- In the Philosopher’s Stone, Professor Quirrel comes running into the Great Hall during the feast screaming “Troll in the dungeons” (as shown above). I have previously made the following scene in the toilet where Harry and Ron rescues Hermione from the troll.
- In the Chamber of Secrets Harry and his friends miss out on the feast as they had promised to go to nearly headless Nick’s death-day party. This is the very night Mrs Morris gets petrified, as the Chamber of Secret is opened for the first time.
- In the Prisoner of Azkaban, the Fat lady gets attacked during the feast by Sirius Black when he seeks entry to the Gryffindor common room (in his hunt for Scabbers).
- And in the Goblet of Fire, the Halloween party is the day the names of the Tri-wizard contestants are revealed by the Goblet (as shown below) and to everyone’s surprise this includes Harry as a fourth contestant joining Fleur Delacour, Viktor Krum and Cedric Diggory in the tournament.
There was a long pause, during which Dumbledore stared at the slip in his hands, and everyone in the room stared at Dumbledore. And then Dumbledore cleared his throat, and read out –
Build the magic!