Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone 20th Anniversary Celebration

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Every month, I will be posting under Time for Tea, a discussion post that explores current goings on, whether it’s in the book world, or life in general. I will try my best to make them relevant, as today’s post most definitely it…

June 26th 1997, a children’s book was published. Just a short book, about 200 pages long, about a boy who finds out he is a wizard. Not just any wizard, but one who, when he was only a child, survived a curse meant to kill him, causing a very dark wizard to vanish. As this young boy turns 11, he enters into the wizarding world, where a grand school called Hogwarts awaits, for him to explore and, in the years to come, be host to the young boy’s adventures of a lifetime. Who is this boy, you ask? Do you have to ask?

It’s Harry Potter!

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20 years ago, Bloomsbury took a chance on a woman who titled herself an author, who presented them with her children’s book which had been declined several times by other publishers. Now, not only is Harry Potter one of the biggest selling book series of all time, but it has become an extremely important book in society today, as I’m sure it will continue to be for many years to come. J.K. Rowling gave us the gift of Harry Potter, and for this, we are eternally grateful.

I know there will probably be a lot of Harry Potter related posts today, as part of the celebrations, so I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to praise, congratulate, and celebrate the beginning of Harry Potter by thinking about my favourite moments from the first book, and why they are so important for me. Please feel free to share your favourite moments from the first book, or the series, too!

My Top 5 Favourite Moments from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone…

5. The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters

I see this as the transition for Harry between the Muggle and Wizarding worlds. The journey is symbolic of many things, but one that really stands out to me is friendship. On this first train journey to Hogwarts, Harry and Ron end up together in a carriage because  “everywhere else is full”. These two wizards who are slightly socially awkward and a little bit overwhelmed by the newness and immense scale of what is happening, are brought together into the safe confines of a single carriage. It is here that we first see the importance of Harry and Ron’s friendship, that sets up their relationship through the rest of the books. It also attracts the attention of Hermione, who is helping Neville search for his toad. We get the impression that she is bossy, and a bit of a know-it-all, right from the beginning, and Ron attempting to do magic is like a magnet for her to show off her intelligence. She doesn’t seem to fit in at first with the two boys, but we all know that soon changes. This moment is the first in the book where the entire golden trio meet, and is the most important foundation for their relationship with each other to blossom and grow.

4. Christmas at Hogwarts

We know that Harry has been treated bad throughout his childhood at the Dursley’s house, so I find it so heart-warming when he wakes up on Christmas Day at Hogwarts to find presents at the end of his bed. He is so shocked that he is surrounded by people who care enough to give him gifts, and there is one gift in particular that really stands out to me (besides the incredible Cloak of Invisibility), and that is his first Weasley jumper! This resonates a lot with me because since joining Hogwarts, Harry has felt more and more like part of a family than he ever did with the Dursleys. Every year, the Weasley children receive these hand-knitted jumpers from their mother, and that is exactly what Harry gets when he unwraps this gift. It makes him feel like part of their family, and gives him hope that there are people out there that care for him a great deal more than he is cared for in the Muggle world. A very important part of the story for me, and it brings tears to my eyes whenever I read it.

3. Harry’s first Quidditch game

Quidditch is a way for Harry to access the wizarding world through something that runs in his blood; that he is naturally good at. When he starts his classes at Hogwarts, he didn’t realise how much hard work it is to cast a simple spell, or mix the perfect potion, but flying is something that comes naturally to Harry, and puts him in the spotlight in a way that isn’t related to his fame through Voldemort, but instead through how he is supporting Gryffindor House. I get butterflies in my stomach whenever I read the ‘Quidditch’ chapter, because it reminds me that even fictional characters get nervous, and to make me feel nervous for Harry is a sign of great writing on Rowling’s part.

2. First sighting of Hogwarts

“Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, it’s windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.”

This is the first time Harry gets a glimpse of his home, somewhere that will keep him safe for the next 7 years of his life, where he learn and grow as a wizard, and build long-lasting relationships with those who will help or hinder him on his journey. If I put myself in Harry’s shoes when he first spots the castle, I am overcome with both joy and nerves. This grand, amazing place is where I will be living for years to come, where I will confront my enemies and make the best friends I could ever have by my side. This is where my wizarding journey begins. Boy, this place is big, I am going to get so lost! So many thoughts must be going through Harry’s head at this moment, and as a reader, I get to experience all of them. After reading the entire series, and immersing myself in the story, Hogwarts has become my home, and every time I pick the book up again, I get the feeling of returning home after a holiday, or being at uni. That familiar feeling of seeing the place where you grew up, and where your family are, waiting to welcome you back.

1. “Harry- yer a wizard.”

My favourite moment in the entire book may be one of the most iconic. You can’t go move on with the Harry Potter story until the main character himself is aware that he is a wizard! As much as I know Harry is a wizard, I am still so moved when Hagrid tells him. Everything in his life suddenly makes sense, all the strange things that have happened to him, his scar, what happened to his parents; it is all made clearer for him in this single line. These words, spoken by Hagrid, really do change Harry’s life, and as soon as I put myself in Harry’s position, a wave of emotions crash over me: confusion, excitement, fear, trust. I think trust is one of the most important here, as we can see a transition between who he thought he could trust as his family, and who he is coming to trust as this strange half-giant who has just told him he is a wizard. As soon as Aunt Petunia confirms that what Hagrid is saying is indeed true, there is a complete shift in Harry’s trust, and this feeling towards Hagrid continues throughout the series. The fear and excitement seem to come as one, and greatly contradict each other. Harry is immensely excited when he finds out he’s going to be learning magic at (apparently) one of the greatest wizarding schools in the world, but he is also very scared that he will not be good enough, and will fail at what his parents once excelled at. There is also the looming fear of Voldemort, and as an extension of this scene, Harry is in this constant battle between the excitement of the world he has been tossed into, and the fear of having fame through a dark wizard who may or may not be dead. So as far as this quote from Hagrid is concerned, all I have to say for now is I wish a half-giant would turn up on my doorstep and hand me my Hogwarts letter while stating I’m a witch!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my top 5 favourite moments from the first Harry Potter books, and please feel free to share your favourite moments in the comments section. Whatever you are doing to celebrate your love and devotion to the Harry Potter books today, I hope you have an amazing day!

Until next time…

Jade 🙂

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