Uncover the meaning of Christmas in the Harry Potter novels.
On this episode, Katy and Emily talk with Dr. Beatrice Groves (author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter and blogger at Bathilda’s Notebook) about the Christmases at Hogwarts and how they culminate in the final book’s graveyard scene at Godric’s Hollow. Emily points out that J.K. Rowling uses Christmas as a way to highlight the magic of the world she created, the particular magic of the season special even in a magical realm. Bea explains the significance of Harry choosing to stay at Hogwarts for most of his holiday breaks - and Ron, too!
One of the most important elements of Hogwarts Christmas, Bea points out, is its communal nature - sitting at a communal table, the Hogwarts faculty letting their hair down, and the merrymaking and gift exchanges that strengthen ties of fellowship. Important events happen on Christmas at Hogwarts that have larger symbolic relevance: Harry getting the Invisibility Cloak and the Firebolt as gifts, his discovery of the Mirror of Erised, and the trio taking Polyjuice Potion (which Bea likens to the “incarnational ideal”). Bea explains the surprising significance of roosters to the Christmas season. We investigate the religious themes that come through even rather secular descriptions of Christmas practices at Hogwarts.
From our view of Neville’s Christmas in Book 5, we contemplate the strength of Neville’s character displayed at St. Mungo’s and the religious significance of the parallel between Neville and Harry. Rowling often buries important themes in jokes or humor, but these have deeper resonance later in the series. Bea connects Christmas carols (like “In the Bleak Midwinter”) and Christmas fairy tales to the Christmas rose, or hellebore, which helps explain the last Christmas scene, in which Harry and Hermione visit Harry’s parents’ graves. That scene realizes the symbolic depths of the earlier Christmases and British religious culture represented in the series. How does one show love with empty hands but a full heart? Join us on a visit through the different Christmases of the Harry Potter books and rediscover the magic of the season.
Our special segment this week takes you to Happy Hour at the Three Broomsticks for a special holiday wizard cocktail! As the days grow colder, we hope that this potion and this episode will warm your heart.