The seven Harry Potter books have collectively sold nearly half a billion copies altogether, a number that grows steadily; the series is third on the list of the most-read books in the world in the past fifty years.
It holds a special place on the mantelpiece of popular culture, the kind that signifies you’ve either read it or you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade or so.
Despite this immense and widespread popularity however, the multibillion-dollar series has still kept a few secrets to itself.
Here are 5 amazing things you did not know about the Modern Day classic.
The Four Houses Represent The Four Elements
The four Houses into which students are Sorted upon entering Hogwarts are meant to loosely correspond with the four classical elements: temperamental Gryffindor as fire, steadfast Hufflepuff as earth, wise Ravenclaw as air, and enigmatic Slytherin as water.
These associations are hinted in some ways throughout the story, such as by Gryffindor being represented by red, the Slytherin common room being located below the lake, and the opposing nature of those two houses.
Rowling revealed this tidbit of trivia after being asked a question on the villainy of the Slytherin house; it serves as a reminder that the four Houses symbolise harmony and balance, and that they are not divided but separate components of a greater whole.
Snowy Owls Don’t Hoot
Hedwig is one of the Potter universe’s most iconic characters (so much so that the main music theme associated with the films is called “Hedwig’s Theme”), which is saying quite a lot since the snowy owl is mostly seen hooting irately or affectionately at her owner throughout the book series.
The key word, there, of course, is “hooting.” Turns out, Snowy Owls don’t hoot; they, in fact, bark (which sounds like it would just terrify poor eleven-year-old Harry).
The explanation offered by Rowling, naturally, is that Hedwig just has special magical owl properties, since she is a special magical owl.
The Dementors Symbolise Depression
J.K. Rowling has been open about her experiences with depression in the past, a result of her divorce and her poverty while writing the early Harry Potter books.
To anyone familiar with depression, the parallels are chillingly accurate:
Dementors revel in despair and seek to bleed dry all the happiness, hope and joy from those that they feed upon until nothing is left but the worst experiences of your life, sometimes going so far as to suck out the soul of their victim in the Dementor’s Kiss. This symbolism, though bleak and eye-opening, is not without its lighter side: as Remus Lupin said, chocolate is always helpful to regain your strength after a brush with the darkness of Dementors.
Characters’ Wands Correspond To Their Birthdays In The Celtic Tree Calendar
Wands, being arguably the most important objects in the series, are given their due significance by Rowling in terms of symbolism and folklore, both within the world.
After assigning Harry’s wand, Rowling discovered that it corresponded with his birthday the Celtic tree calendar, an ancient calendar with thirteen lunar divisions that are each ascribed a different tree. When she made this discovery, Ron’s and Hermione’s wand woods, ash and vine respectively, were also based on their birthdays on the Celtic calendar. This, in addition to them uniting the three main wand cores, gives the trio a “hidden connection.”
Too bad she perhaps inadvertently gave Draco Malfoy a hawthorn wand, which corresponds to his birthday on the Celtic calendar as well.
Dark Wizards Cannot Produce Patronuses
The Patronus Charm is a very advanced piece of magic used to combat Dark creatures, most notably Dementors. As Dark wizards have an affinity for and are thus desensitized to Dark creatures like the aforementioned, they have no real need to produce Patronuses; and that’s a good thing too, because they may not actually be capable of it.
The widespread belief in the magical world is that no wizard that isn’t “pure of heart” can produce a Patronus, corporeal or otherwise, but, while this is broadly true, some questionable wizards and witches (looking at you, Umbridge) have managed to cast the charm.
This is due largely to the fact that the crucial ingredient of a Patronus Charm is pure happiness.
Since Dark wizards are not capable of such purity of emotion, they also can’t produce a Patronus. Double-double-agent Severus Snape was the only Death Eater who could, since he was redeemed by his love for Lily.
An example to illustrate: the tale of the Dark wizard Raczidian, whose Patronus Charm backfired, causing him to be devoured by maggots. Lovely.