Harry Potter Halloween Festivities at Falvey
Official Scavenger Hunt rules available here: https://blog.library.villanova.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/ScavengerHunt-Final.pdf
We cannot speak of 21st-century cultural phenomenon without talking about J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Everyone knows the story of the boy who lived, his heroic friendships made at Hogwarts, and his ultimate sacrifice to conquer You Know Who. The casual reader, however, may not be aware of the importance of the Halloween season to the stories’ narrative precision.
Rowling reserves Halloween as a date for several important plot details. A troll appears in the dungeon on Halloween in The Sorcerer’s Stone; we learn that Nearly-Headless Nick died on Halloween, and Ginny enters the Chamber, in The Chamber of Secrets; the Fat Lady’s portrait is slashed by Sirius Black in The Prisoner of Azkaban on Halloween; the Goblet of Fire drawing is on Halloween.
And last, but certainly not least, as the Falvey Memorial Library’s English and Theatre Librarian Sarah Wingo reminds us, “The attack at Godric’s Hollow took place on 31 October 1981. This is the night Voldemort killed Harry’s parents and Harry got his scar; it is the night that started everything, and the night that Harry became ‘the boy who lived.’ That is the original major significance of Halloween to the series, but generally the series is about wizards, witches, and many other things often associated with Halloween.”
These nuances of the Harry Potter series make the Halloween season the perfect time to bring out your inner Harry Potter fan for some fun at the Falvey. Now you may be asking, “But what makes this Halloween so important?”
This Halloween marks the first time since 2007 (the release of the book-version Deathly Hallows) that we’ve had a fresh, new book-length Potterverse narrative to celebrate. Today, Oct. 24, and next Monday, Oct. 30, the Falvey Memorial Library will offer you the chance to celebrate the release of Rowling’s new story with two live readings of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Sarah Wingo thinks that The Cursed Child:
“relies strongly on nostalgia for past people, places, and things, and, while in many ways this is its weakness, it is also a strength because it gives Harry Potter fans a chance to return to the world that they love so well and to spend time with characters that feel like old friends. The other thing to note is that by all accounts the actual stage play is supposed to be spectacular. Normally I wouldn’t have much interest in seeing a play with what I found to be a weak script, but I desperately want to see this play; the experience of seeing how they pull off all of the magic and effects live on stage must be breathtaking, and I sincerely hope it makes its way to New York so that I have a chance to be swept away in the magic myself.”
Of course, we wouldn’t invite you all here simply to hear us read a play that relies heavily on nostalgia. Wingo continues,
“So what we’re trying to do with staged readings of parts of The Cursed Child is to take people one step closer to actually seeing the play, certainly a very small step, but an important one nonetheless.”
The first reading will feature a post-reading discussion (pizza provided), and the kickoff of a Harry Potter themed Scavenger Hunt! The second reading will also feature a discussion, but you should also show up in your best Harry Potter costume for a costume contest followed by the announcing of awards for the scavenger hunt. Prizes will include: handcrafted wands, movie theatre gift cards and Insomnia Cookie gift cards as well.
While The Cursed Child gives us Potter-heads a fresh narrative to discuss, Rowling has also added to the Harry Potter Halloween cannon through her famous Pottermore website. In a post about famous Potterverse singer Celestine Warbeck, Rowling mentions that the singer spoke out against the Ministry of Magic’s attempts to limit the celebration of Halloween. This gives fans two narratives to consider: why limit Halloween? And why speak out against its limitation?
Questions such as these make Harry Potter such an interesting cultural piece. Rowling’s writings have seemingly taken on a life of their own. The series’ Internet fandom has created podcasts, alternate storylines and even wickedly intricate theories about the novels’ true meanings. In many ways, the Harry Potter fandom has helped bring the series to the heights of literary acclaim; each reader in the fandom brings a unique reading to the texts that highlights subtle details that particular fans view as important, opening up various readings and an ever-expanding fictional universe.
As my own contribution I’d like to say that the cool part about Halloween in Harry Potter books is that Halloween provides our favorite characters with a chance to be heroic. Without the loss of his parents, Harry’s quest would not have been possible; without the troll, Ron and Harry could not have proved themselves against a tough adversary. To continue this magical Potter tradition, come invent your own magical heroic adventure with a few friends, Sarah Wingo and the rest of the Falvey staff today (Oct. 24) at 4 pm and Monday, Oct. 31 (also at 4 pm) here at the Falvey Memorial Library.
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