All Hallows’ Eve (T-minus 19 days)

It’s Halloween today, and I find the name of the holiday oddly appropriate. It is All Hallows’ Eve: a day for mocking Death and celebrating witches (fictional ones, just to be clear), and it sits just a few days before the release of the Deathly Hallows, the final chapter of a story that began, of course, on Halloween.

lily-potter

On October 31, 1981 James and Lily Potter were murdered by one Tom Riddle, known as Voldemort, in attempts to protect their 15-month-old son Harry. Lily’s sacrificial death triggered an ancient magic which protected her son, thereby causing the death curse cast upon him to rebound and destroy his attacker, leaving him unharmed but for a small cut on his forehead.

Lily’s death, I think, makes her one of the most obvious and powerful Christ-figures in English literature. She took the curse meant for her son, and that love protected him from death not once, but three times. Her love, which lives in her blood, defeated death and ultimately becomes the key to the defeat of the evil one—the “Flight of Death.”

None of this is breaking news to a Harry Potter fan. Fans have acknowledged and explored this symbolism/allegory for years. However, I have never seen any discussion of the fact that this Good Friday-esque moment –which is arguably the single most important scene in the series– occurs on Halloween. I’d like to take a crack at it.

I’m not very familiar with the various traditions of Halloween. I know that it is a pagan/harvest festival turned Christian turned media-crazy (similar to Christmas), but beyond that all I know is that it is concerned with mocking evil and death. It is both a time to be scared and to say that the things that scare us have no real power. Which is in many ways the same message of Good Friday. Good Friday broke the power of death through a death, which, while not exactly mocking the concept of death, was a bit “in your face” towards the concept. Thus Lily, as a Halloween Christ-figure, is doubly emphasizing that death is powerless, or rather that there are things more powerful than it.

So why not have the Godric’s Hollow murders occur on Easter? There’s no real reason as far as the timeline goes for the Potters being murdered in the Fall. I can think of 2 reasons: One is that thematically Harry Potter is much more about death than it is about resurrection or redemption, and thus having the cornerstone event take place near Easter might confuse the issue: putting the scene on Halloween leaves no question about the central theme. The second reason is simply that Halloween is scarier. The scene in Godric’s Hollow isn’t merely about Lily’s sacrifice and Voldemort’s defeat: it’s also about Voldemort’s murder of James and Lily, which is a tragic murder without a resurrection and particularly suited to Halloween. We see in Deathly Hallows that Voldemort took particular glee in attacking the Potters on Halloween because he was a real Halloween monster—almost as if he was mocking the Muggle’s mocking of death and fear.

Other possible reasons include some kind of symbolism in Harry being exactly 15-months old (though I have no idea what that might be), a deliberate parallel with the Deathly Hallows (though I doubt it), or pure irony in the idea that Halloween is the day we think the most about witches and magic.

Thus are my thoughts. I’ll leave you with a Halloween HP fanfiction and say, “To Harry Potter: The Boy Who Lived.”

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~ by ntertanedangel on November 1, 2010.

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