The wizarding world is full of wonder: broomsticks, massive castles, talking hats, that sort of thing. And in the darker times, you can always find a small spark of joy to make everyone smile once again, whether that be a classic Fred and George prank, a bow from Buckbeak, or a wry remark from Dumbledore.
Here are some random titbits from the wizarding world that might cheer you up.
Er, yes, we’re starting off by talking about death – but bear with us, this is meant to be a cheery point. We’ve all had many years to digest the painful demises that happen in the Harry Potter stories, and let’s face it, some of them still smart. (Hedwig, why?) While J.K. Rowling has apologised for killing off a few characters, there was one who was always safe: Hagrid.
Yes, according to Rowling, the loveable gamekeeper was always going to be in the series from start to finish – with the author picturing him carrying a ‘dead’ Harry during a Hogwarts battle before she had even written Deathly Hallows. This was intended to mirror Hagrid bringing Harry into the wizarding world in the first place in Philosopher’s Stone.
In an interview for the Blu-ray edition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011), she said: ‘I always knew – and this was from really early on – I was working towards the point where Hagrid carried Harry, alive but supposedly dead, out of the forest.’
It’s comforting to know that Hagrid was always going to be there right at the end.
In different translations of the Harry Potter books, we are met with many fun alternatives. For example, in the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the Scots version, the first chapter is called: ‘The Laddie Wha Lived’. Yes, hen. Here’s another favourite: in French, in order for Tom Marvolo Riddle’s name to successfully be re-ordered to say ‘I am Lord Voldemort’, his middle name in the French translation has to be… Elvis. And now we’re imagining the darkest wizard in the wizarding world wearing a spangled white suit…
You probably know our favourite Harry Potter name that comes from Old English: Albus Dumbledore’s last name means bumblebee! And we’re buzzing at how adorable that is. Of course, a lot of the Harry Potter language comes from Latin, including a lot of spells, and the Hogwarts motto: ‘Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus’ (never tickle a sleeping dragon). Latin sneaks in everywhere in the Harry Potter books: for example, Ludo Bagman, the former Quidditch player and Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports, has a name that roughly translates into: ‘I play’. He liked to play in all sorts of ways of course, such as with a nasty gambling habit.
But just from reading the Harry Potter books, we’ve accumulated quite a bit of Latin by osmosis. Look up your favourite spell, character or location and delve into the etymology for yourself. Or read more of our own Latin observations here.
In ‘King’s Cross Station’, J.K. Rowling revealed that the London station had special significance for her, hence its importance in the Harry Potter books as the gateway to platform nine and three-quarters.
Of course, a train is also the setting on which J.K. Rowling thought of the concept of Harry Potter in the first place. So the moral of this story is to take more trains, clearly.
Don’t we all? But especially wizards, as it turns out.
The International Statute of Secrecy has clear guidelines on what wizards really should be wearing while out and about among Muggles – which should be ‘Muggle standard’, climate appropriate, as close as possible to the fashion of the day, and definitely not very wizard-looking robes. However, some wizards enjoy disregarding this rule, and are particularly averse to how constricting trousers are.
You may recall one wizard from Goblet of Fire who remarked that he ‘likes a healthy breeze around his privates, thanks’. And it’s not just him. According to J.K. Rowling, a fringe movement called ‘Fresh Air Refreshes Totally’ was once initiated to counteract the wearing of trousers. And, even more brilliantly, the acronym for that movement is F.A.R.T.
As you might hope, Umbridge did not get away with her horrible ways – but in the Harry Potter books, we never found out exactly what happened. Don’t worry, in an interview J.K. Rowling confirmed that Umbridge did indeed get imprisoned for her actions at the Ministry of Magic.
We imagine there are no cat plates in Azkaban.
This bit from the end of the Battle of Hogwarts:
Somewhere in the distance they could hear Peeves zooming through the corridors singing a victory song of his own composition:
‘We did it, we bashed them, wee Potter’s the One, And Voldy’s gone mouldy, so now let’s have fun!’
‘Really gives a feeling for the scope and tragedy of the thing, doesn’t it?’ said Ron, pushing open a door to let Harry and Hermione through.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
We all know that Minerva McGonagall was played by the wonderful Dame Maggie Smith, but did you know that the cat who played her Animagus other self in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was named… wait for it… Mrs P. Head?
Our guess is that the ‘P’ stands for ‘Potter’.