31 October is a date many Muggles know all too well as a day for dressing up, achieving various levels of success carving pumpkins and simply celebrating all things spooky. For Harry Potter, Hallowe’en became a haunting part of his life from an early age for a very different reason. In fact, the eerie date seemed to follow him around. Observe…
This was the date when everything changed, as Lord Voldemort stormed Godric’s Hollow and callously murdered Harry’s parents on 31 October 1981. This date would become legendary in two very different ways, for while Harry lost his parents and was plunged into a miserable life at the Dursleys’, the rest of the wizarding world celebrated their newfound peace, with Lord Voldemort mysteriously and temporarily vanquished. We saw the date once and for all in the emotional scene where Harry visited his parents’ graves.
On a very different Hallowe’en, one decade later and barely a handful of months since Harry had started his new magical life at Hogwarts, he experienced a far more traditional night of festivities. Oh alright, traditional for a wizard, at least. First there was the glorious Hogwarts Hallowe’en feast, complete with live bats, overlarge pumpkins and a troll in the dungeons. The only problem? That last part wasn’t supposed to be a Hallowe’en decoration.
But the scary scene in which Harry, Ron and Hermione found themselves embroiled in a fight against an unleashed troll actually turned out to be another hugely important moment in Harry’s life. Not because knocking out a troll as a first-year is pretty cool, but because it was the day that Hermione joined Ron and Harry’s friendship group, and formed one of the most iconic trios that ever lived — in our humble opinion. Despite the unusual circumstances, Harry and Ron (who had earlier in the day insulted Hermione in typical Ron-fashion) saved Hermione’s life, thus fusing together a legendary friendship, not to mention getting Ron off the hook.
Harry’s second year at Hogwarts promised an even more Hallowe’en-ish Hallowe’en. First of all, there was the fact he got to go to an actual ghost party, celebrating the Deathday of Nearly Headless Nick. But if the buffet of mouldy cheese, maggoty haggis and a tombstone cake weren’t scary enough, the rest of Harry’s night was absolutely petrifying. No, literally Petrifying. Taunted by a troubling voice inside Hogwarts’ walls, Harry left Nick’s party and arrived on the scene of something that would affect the school’s entire year: the opening of the Chamber of Secrets.
If ‘ENEMIES OF THE HEIR, BEWARE’ wasn’t horrible enough, there was also the shocking sight of Argus Filch’s cat horrifically frozen and hanging by her tail. Although Harry didn’t know it yet, this was yet another 31 October punctured by Lord Voldemort’s presence. That guy sure had a knack at sticking to a particular date, didn’t he?
For Harry’s third year, surely the poor lad was due a peaceful Hallowe’en? As it turned out: no. In Prisoner of Azkaban, a new threat haunted Harry in the shape of escaped Azkaban convict Sirius Black. And, as luck would have it, the events of Sirius’s escape reached an apex on those dying embers of October when an unfortunate security slip-up led to Sirius breaking into the notoriously safe Hogwarts castle.
After leaving ominous slash marks on Gryffindor house’s portrait, the Fat Lady, Hogwarts was officially plunged into a very dark Hallowe’en night. As it turned out, Sirius Black really wasn’t that scary after all. The fact a perilous Death Eater had been able to live in the Hogwarts grounds as a rat for three years, however, was pretty bad.
The final time we heard of Hallowe’en mentioned in the books came in Harry’s fourth year, and it’s, again, a particularly memorable one. Awash with excitement over the upcoming Triwizard Tournament, this day was meant to be a fun, relaxed one for Harry, where he could watch the picking of the three school champions as a humble observer.
Finally, a year where he wasn’t the centre of attention! Or so it was for about five minutes before Harry found his name rise out of the Goblet of Fire itself. The prospect of a life-threatening series of tasks, as well as school-wide ridicule from people thinking he was a chancer who tricked the goblet? We can’t imagine anything more terrifying for a teenager.
Funny that the Deathly Hallows share half their name with Hallowe’en, too. In the wizarding world, ‘Hallows’ are known as three enchanted and hugely powerful objects that can unite to ‘conquer Death’. At one point or another, Harry has temporarily possessed all three of them. Seeing as the Muggle holiday celebrates the supernatural and the unknown, how fitting that the Hallows should be so-named in such a familiar way, and that Harry Potter of all people should be so intimately connected to both. Spooky.