Fictional universe of Harry Potter
The fictional universe of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series of fantasy novels comprises two distinct societies: the Wizarding World and the Muggle world. The Muggle world is the series' name for the world inhabited by the non-magical majority, with which the Wizarding World exists coextensively, albeit mostly remaining hidden from the non-magical humans. The plot of the series is set in 1990s Britain, but in a veiled and separate shadow society wherein magic is commonly used and practiced, and those who can use it live in self-enforced seclusion, hiding their abilities from the rest of the world. The term "Wizarding World" refers to the global wizard community that lives hidden in parallel with the Muggle world; the different terms refer to different communities within the same area rather than separate planets or worlds. Any new works taking place in this universe are released under the "J. K. Rowling's Wizarding World" brand.
- 1 Fundamentals
- 2 Geography
- 3 Animals and plants
- 4 Blood purity
- 5 Government and politics
- 6 Relations
- 7 Education
- 8 Economy
- 9 Games and sports
- 10 Communications
- 11 Transportation
- 12 Newspapers and magazines
- 13 Food and beverages
- 14 Books
- 15 See also
- 16 References
- 17 External links
The entire Harry Potter series is set from 1991 to 1998 aside from the opening chapter of the first book, which takes place on 1 November 1981, and the epilogue of the seventh book, which takes place on 1 September 2017. The depiction of the Wizarding World is centered on magic, which not only imbues objects such as wands, but is portrayed as an inborn ability. It is also centered on the separation of the wizarding world from the non-wizarding (Muggle) world. Despite being an inherent talent, magic is honed through study of various branches of magic and practical training into a skill.
A great deal of effort is expended in keeping the Muggles unaware of magic. Originally the two worlds co-existed, however, persecution of those with magic meant Magical Laws have been put in place over the centuries, designed to keep the existence of the Magical World hidden from Muggles, the first and most important being the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy of 1692. Enchantment of Muggle artifacts is forbidden; under-age wizards are restricted from using magic outside school and any deliberate revelation of magical ability to the Muggle community is punishable, although allowances are made for the use of magic in the presence of a Muggle in case of life-threatening situation (for the wizard or the muggle). These laws are enforced by the Ministry of Magic, while a special arm of it, the Obliviators, has the job of making certain that Muggles who have seen magic in action will be left with no inconvenient memories. Exceptions to the secrecy include wizards' Muggle relatives and the high political leaders, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom for instance.
Some aspects of the Wizarding World are depicted as being less-than-modern in comparison to the Muggle world, sometimes even old-fashioned or quaint. The technological development of the Wizarding World is substantially behind that of its Muggle counterpart — for instance, candles are used for the illumination instead of electrical or gas bulbs/tubes and owls, a more cumbersome and slower way, are used to send messages than simple phone calls. On the other hand, an owl can be sent to deliver a message without the sender needing to know the recipient's exact location or phone number, it's difficult to intercept or trace an owl, and owls can deliver packages as large as brooms. If one has instant access to magical power, the development of modern technology and science in the Wizarding World would seem to be almost unnecessary.
However, a large number of technologically complex devices do exist, and most of these devices exist in the Muggle world. From a certain perspective, it can be seen that Magic and electricity are the equivalents of each other in their respective worlds, but electronic equipment doesn't work around magic-filled areas, such as Hogwarts, and Muggle devices used by wizards (such as cameras and radios) can be made to function using magic instead of electricity. Such examples are rare, however; wizards rarely make use of Muggle technology, nor do they have much interest in doing so, even when such technology might make their lives much easier. Pure-blood Wizards are baffled by how Muggle technology works and most have no interest in understanding it (with occasional exceptions, such as Muggle aficionado Arthur Weasley, whose dearest dream is "to find out how an aeroplane stays up"). "Muggle Studies" classes are offered at Hogwarts for those students with an interest. On several occasions, Harry Potter is tasked with having to explain the workings of commonplace Muggle technology, such as introducing the telephone to Mr Weasley in Chamber of Secrets; at the beginning of Prisoner of Azkaban, Ron Weasley makes his first telephone call with disastrous results for Harry.
The Wizarding World has also not embraced modern Muggle modes of information collection and transfer. For instance, instead of pen/pencil, paper and electronic equipment like computers, Hogwarts students use ink-dipped quills and parchment to take notes and do their homework. Money is also old-fashioned; when Muggle Britain was decimalised in 1971, Magical Britons continued with their system of 17 silver Sickles to a gold Galleon, and 29 bronze Knuts to a Sickle.
Many aspects of the British Wizarding World have Muggle equivalents. For example, after reaching age of 17 wizards can be licensed to apparate, while Muggles can learn and be licensed to drive cars. In the fifth and seventh years of Hogwarts or Muggle secondary school, external examinations take place. Some aspects of Muggle pop culture are also mirrored in the Wizarding World such as rock music, posters, and tabloids. A few young wizards embrace Muggle culture whole-heartedly: as a teenager Sirius Black's room was filled with pictures of Muggle pinup girls, motorcycles and rock bands in rebellion against his prejudiced Muggle-hating parents. Muggle music is heard in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - music by the The Ordinary Boys, a Muggle band, is heard playing in the background of the Gryffindor common room.
Wizards and witches who are Muggle-born, or are half-bloods (of mixed muggle and magical parentage) find it easier (or even commonplace) to integrate into Muggle society and take on Muggle trends as they are predisposed to Muggle ways growing up. Gryffindor student Dean Thomas has frequent references to the adorning of his part of the dormitory with posters of West Ham United Football Club. Albus Dumbledore has expressed interest in Muggle knitting patterns and ten pin bowling.
There is no separate "magical land" in the Harry Potter universe. The wizarding world not only coexists alongside the world of Muggles, but also is embedded within it. Only one settlement in Britain, the village of Hogsmeade, is home to an entirely magical population. The vast majority of witches' and wizards' locations are integrated within the wider non-magical area. Wizards will often live in small communities of several families within Muggle villages such as Godric's Hollow in the West Country (home of the Dumbledores and the Potters) or Tinworth in Cornwall. The all-wizard Weasley, Diggory, Lovegood, and Fawcett families live near the Muggle village of Ottery St Catchpole, in Devon. Many wizarding houses in the Harry Potter books are depicted as being on the outskirts of towns, usually isolated from most of the town.
Similarly, the wizard high street Diagon Alley lies in central London, just off Charing Cross Road. A train called the Hogwarts Express departs from the real King's Cross Station, albeit from Platform 9¾. These locations are hidden by a combination of Muggle-repelling charms, illusions, other magical protections. Many magical locations, such as the Isle of Drear off the coast of Scotland, or the Quidditch World Cup Stadium, and the wizarding prison, Azkaban, are rendered "Unplottable," or impossible to locate on a map. This is further banked by the natural tendency of non-magical people to ignore anything they cannot explain or understand. Hogwarts Castle appears as abandoned ruins to any Muggles close enough to see. Although wizarding society lives for the most part directly alongside Muggles, interaction between the two communities is virtually non-existent since the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy was introduced in 1692. Few wizards are aware of basic Muggle culture (for instance, most wizards do not understand Muggle clothing customs). On the odd occasions when it may be necessary for a wizard or witch to dress in Muggle clothing, the result is usually comical. While the series is set in Great Britain, there is evidence that the wizarding world has locations throughout the globe, such as in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when it describes many people at the Quidditch World Cup speaking foreign languages, the number of Irish wizards working for the Ministry and attending Hogwarts, as well as the various nationalities attending Beauxbatons and Durmstrang suggest the wizarding world's borders differ from the geopolitical divisions of the Muggle world. It is also suggested in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban that wizards played a part in ancient Egyptian history, and possibly are behind many historical wonders in the modern world such as the Egyptian pyramids and tombs.
Animals and plants
The Wizarding World is home to many magical creatures and plants, some of which are familiar from folklore and myth. Giants, dragons, unicorns, boggarts, and goblins all have roles in the series, while many plants long believed to have magical properties, such as mandrake root, aconite, asphodel and wormwood, also make appearances. Within the stories, the conceit is that these creatures and their magical powers are real, but have been hidden for centuries from the non-magical world by the efforts of wizards, to the point where they have faded into folklore. In Hogwarts, some types of pets are allowed: cats, owls, rats, and toads. J.K. Rowling wrote a spin-off book about magical creatures to complement the main Harry Potter novels, titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
The longstanding separation between the Wizarding and Muggle worlds in the Harry Potter universe has led many wizards to advocate keeping the two apart. This view has, in turn, led to a minority of British wizards seeing Muggles (and wizards of pure Muggle parentage) as untrustworthy, foolish, or, in extreme cases, racially inferior. The common practice of wizards marrying Muggles is viewed by such extremists as miscegenation, and they instead advocate maintaining a so-called "purity of blood." This was part of Lord Voldemort's ideology, and the Black family disowned anyone who married a half-blood or muggle. However, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Hagrid states that there are very few wizards who actually have blood purity.
Pure-blood is the term applied to wizards and witches who have no Muggle blood, Muggle borns, or half-bloods at all in their family tree. Although technically pure-bloods have no Muggle ancestors, the small wizarding population means that "true" pure-bloods are rare or even non-existent, with most just ignoring or disowning the few Muggles in their family. Identified pure-blood families include the Blacks, the Crouches, the Fudges, the Gaunts (though that line died out before the beginning of Book 1), the Lestranges, the Longbottoms, the Malfoys, and the Weasleys. To maintain their blood purity, supremacist families have been known to inbreed into their own families by marrying their cousins, resulting in mental instability and violent natures. The Gaunts also displayed both tendencies by the time of the sixth book.
Pure-blood supremacists believe blood purity is a measure of a wizard's magical ability – notwithstanding examples of highly skilled Muggle-born witches and wizards such as Hermione Granger and Lily Potter, and less skilled pure-bloods such as Neville Longbottom (whose skills developed in Deathly Hallows due to his heroism)– and Muggles to be low-life, having no magic in them. Supremacists apply the term "blood traitor" to pure-bloods who harbor no prejudice against non-pure-bloods (enjoying their presence and relations with them).
The hostile wizards in the Harry Potter books are almost all supremacists, while Harry and his friends disagree with this ideology. Rowling draws several parallels between the pure-blood supremacists and Nazi ideology in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the belief that pure-blood wizards have the right to subjugate the Muggle world and view themselves as a "master race", laws requiring Muggle-borns to register with the Ministry of Magic, rounding up "Undesirables", etc.).
Not all pure-blood wizards are advocates of pure-blood supremacy: the Weasleys, Potters, and Longbottoms are old pure-blood families, but no known members of these families are sympathetic to supremacist aims. The Black family, traditionally pure-blood supremacists, also seem to have produced one or two such "black sheep" in every generation, namely Sirius and Andromeda (Bellatrix and Narcissa's sister who married the Muggle-Born Ted Tonks).
Several wizards question the notion of blood purity altogether. In The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Dumbledore asserts that the much-vaunted blood purity does not exist, and is only a fiction maintained by the deceptions of supremacist wizards.
The Black family
Most of the members of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black were advocates of blood purity, and many were involved with the Dark Arts (Sirius’s brother Regulus was a Death Eater, but, later betrayed Lord Voldemort by trying to destroy one of his hocruxes ). The Black family home, at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, London, contains many artefacts of dubious origin and/or dangerous powers. The family motto, Toujours Pur, is French for "Always/Still Pure," because the Black family was one of the few remaining lineages of completely pure blood. As depicted in their family tree, the Blacks intermarried with several other pure-blood families and also on occasions practised inbreeding to preserve pure-blood witches and wizards. Because of this, it was noted that most of the remaining pure-blood families are interrelated. The Blacks are related to virtually all. The last several generations of Blacks all trace their ancestry back to Phineas Nigellus Black and Ursula Flint. The Blacks believed in Voldemort's idea of "purifying the wizarding race," but many, such as Sirius' parents, refrained from openly supporting him once they saw what he was willing to do for power. Although several living members of the family appear throughout the series, all are either female and married into other families (such as Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange), female-line distaff Black descendants (Draco Malfoy), or descendants of disowned family members (such as Andromeda and Nymphadora Tonks), and none have the surname Black. In 1996, the last known surviving bearer of the family name, Sirius, was murdered by his cousin Bellatrix Lestrange (née Black) in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
The family tree is described in the fifth book, but it came more directly to public attention in January 2006 when the author donated a version she had hand-drawn to a Book Aid International charity auction. The tree caused a considerable stir amongst fans as it provided new information about elements of the plot of the series in between publication of volumes six and seven. It was eventually purchased for £30,000 on behalf of British actor Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry Potter in the film series.
Half-blood refers to those wizards and witches who have magic and Muggle ancestors in their family trees. Half-bloods are the most common wizard blood, far outnumbering pure-bloods and Muggle-borns. Rowling has stated that, of the Hogwarts annual intake, 50% are half-bloods. Pure-blood supremacists view half-bloods as inferior to them, although superior to Muggles and Muggle-borns.
Voldemort is a half-blood since his father was a Muggle and his mother, a pure-blood. Severus Snape is also a half-blood (he gave himself the nickname "The Half-Blood Prince"), as his father Tobias Snape was a Muggle. Harry himself is a half-blood, since his mother Lilly was Muggle-born.
Muggle-born is the term applied to wizards and witches who come from non-magical families. According to Rowling, the average Hogwarts annual intake for Muggle-borns is 25%.
Supremacists typically believe Muggle-borns to be magically deficient, despite examples to the contrary, such as Hermione and Lily who are exceptionally skilled in their abilities.
Pure-blood supremacists refer to Muggle-borns with the offensive derogatory term Mudblood. Hagrid was shocked to find out that Draco Malfoy uttered the term to Hermione in order to insult and provoke her, since the slur is never used in proper conversations. Hermione decided to reclaim and use the term "Mudblood" with pride instead of shame in an effort to defuse its value as a slur.
During Voldemort's rule, Muggle-borns were legally required to register with the Muggle-Born Registration Commission. During this time, the Department of Mysteries "discovered" that Muggle-borns acquired their magic by "stealing" magic and wands from real wizards. Other wizards and witches rejected this notion, such as Ron Weasley, who asks how it is even possible to steal magic. After the fall of the regime, Dolores Umbridge (head of the Commission) and the supporters of this ideology are imprisoned for crimes against Muggle-borns.
Squib is the term applied to a child who is born of magical parents, but who develops no magical abilities. They are considered to be the opposite of Muggle-born wizards/witches. Squib births are rare: the only squibs noted as such in the books are Argus Filch, Arabella Figg, and Molly Weasley's second cousin who was an accountant. The Ministry does not require them to be registered as part of the Community. Squibs share some things with wizards and they are aware of and comprehend the Wizarding World. They also can see Hogwarts, which ordinary Muggles cannot. However, according to Ron's Aunt Muriel, the custom with squibs has been to send them to Muggle schools and encourage them to integrate into the Muggle world, which is "much kinder" than keeping them in the wizarding world where they will always be "second-class". In contrast to most of the wizarding world's acceptance and even respect for Muggles and Muggle-born wizards and witches, it is often considered embarrassing to have a squib in the family.
Some wizards are the products of unions between humans and magical creatures of more-or-less human intelligence, such as Fleur Delacour and her sister Gabrielle (both quarter veela), Professor Flitwick (a quarter goblin), Madame Maxime and Hagrid (both half giant). Prejudiced wizards (such as Umbridge) often use the insulting term half-breed to refer to mixed-species wizards and werewolves, or other beings such as house elves, merpeople and centaurs (who are separate species). The centaurs within the series prefer to exist amongst themselves, with little interaction with humans.
Government and politics
The Ministry of Magic is the government for the magical community of Britain. The government is first mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, is the first minister to make an appearance in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The headquarters are not shown until Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. As the books progress, the Ministry becomes more corrupt and blind to happenings in the Wizard world, reaching a nadir of corruption during Voldemort's uprising.
Known Ministers for Magic include Millicent Bagnold (before the books begin), Cornelius Fudge, Rufus Scrimgeour, Pius Thicknesse (under the Imperius Curse controlled indirectly by Lord Voldemort) and Kingsley Shacklebolt (temporarily, but later known to be permanent).
To the Muggle world
The Muggles remain, for the most part, oblivious to the wizarding world, a situation considered preferable to the alternative by wizards. Most things of magical nature are hidden or otherwise obscured from Muggles; others (such as Dementors or ghosts) simply cannot be seen by them, although Muggles do experience the same depression and sense of manifest darkness and despair that wizards experience while near a Dementor. It is commented that Muggles generally can dismiss anything they cannot explain. Likewise, to many magical people, many functional aspects of the Muggle world are rarely glimpsed and mysterious. Wizards and witches' attempts to disguise themselves as Muggles, as when they have to venture out onto "normal" streets, often have humorous results. The mispronunciation of common Muggle terms like "telephone", "escalator", "plumber", "firearms" or "policeman", as "fellytone", "escapator", "pumble", "firelegs", and "please-men", respectively, is a running gag in the series.
Muggle Studies is an option of study at Hogwarts. However, while some professions require its study, to others it is often considered a "soft option".
The only official relations described with the Muggle world are between the Minister for Magic and the Muggle Prime Minister. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince it is revealed that the Minister for Magic privately introduces himself to each new Prime Minister. There is a magical painting in the Prime Minister's office that notifies him of such visits, and a fireplace that is connected to the Floo Network. Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge informed the Prime Minister of the escape of Sirius Black. Fudge also informed the Prime Minister that several problems he was facing were rooted in the war against Voldemort, and that his new secretary Kingsley Shacklebolt was an Auror.
The exact extent to which the secrecy and isolation of the wizarding world is maintained varies. Many references are made to the Ministry of Magic performing memory charms to preserve secrecy; however, some Muggles have necessary interactions with the wizarding world. Hermione’s parents are Muggles, but have been seen in Diagon Alley. They are fully aware that magic exists, but they forbade Hermione to use magic to fix her teeth (as dentists, they felt that this was cheating). The Dursleys are also aware of the Wizarding World; Petunia Dursley indicates that she learned of it when her sister, Lily, was accepted for Hogwarts. She apparently shared this information with her husband, who is shown to be contemptuous of the wizarding world even before Harry shows up at their doorstep. There is no indication that Dudley was aware of this until Harry is told about Hogwarts.
Along with the families of Muggle-born wizards, there are mixed marriages. Seamus Finnigan reports that his mother was a witch who did not inform his Muggle father until after they were married.
There is also some unspecified financial relationship between the two worlds, as it is possible to exchange Muggle Money into Wizard Money, as Hermione's parents are shown doing in the second book.
Since a person's most important capability – magical aptitude – does not depend on sex, sex equality is highly advanced in the Wizarding World, and the "battle of the sexes" never became much of an issue (for example, Quidditch teams have both male and female players – except for a known example, the Holyhead Harpies, which are an all-female team).
The most obvious example of wizard prejudice is a longstanding disdain, even a genocidal hatred, toward Muggles and wizards and witches of Muggle parentage (Muggle-borns, half-bloods) among certain wizards. This has led to a eugenic philosophy among some of the older Wizarding families, leading to a practice of "pure-blood" intermarriage that has exposed many of them (such as the Gaunt family) to the risks of mental instability.
Other internal tensions include the slavery of house elves and the suspicion or disregard for some species of near-human intelligence ("beings" in Wizard parlance). Voldemort and his allies frequently exploit these divisions to bring non-human magical creatures, particularly werewolves and giants, over to their cause.
The magical governments of the world are to some degree united in the International Confederation of Wizards. This organization has many responsibilities, mostly to enforce the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy.
There is a reference to the Ministry of Magic's Department of International Magical Cooperation and to various international bodies such as the International Magical Trading Standards Body, the International Magical Office of Law, the International Confederation of Wizards and the International Quidditch Association.
As noted in the depiction of the Quidditch World Championship in Goblet of Fire, Irish and Bulgarian wizards (and presumably, also those from other countries) can feel a strong national pride and be intensely eager for their country to win – even though Irish and Bulgarian Muggles, who form most of the population in the two countries, are not aware that the Championship is taking place.
The books do not refer to the degree to which wars and tensions between Muggle governments (e.g., the World Wars or the Cold War) influence the relations between the respective wizarding governments. However, Rowling has strongly implied that the rise of the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald and his defeat by Dumbledore in 1945 were related to the rise and fall of the Third Reich.
There appears to be no official precursory education; apparently, wizard parents home-school their children in basic non-magical topics, such as literacy and arithmetic. Muggle-born wizards (or Muggle-raised wizards), however, clearly experience an ordinary Muggle primary education before enrolling at Hogwarts, something that could be viewed as either a cognitive edge or disadvantage. There are also no compulsory educational laws that exist in the British Wizarding World. Parents may continue to home-school their children, send them to Hogwarts, or send them abroad to other wizarding schools. However, during the time Voldemort had overthrown the Ministry of Magic, attendance at Hogwarts was compulsory, so that his followers could have complete control over the wizarding youth.
Following completion of a Hogwarts education, there is no standard tertiary education, and there are no wizard universities. Successful Hogwarts students are considered ready to function as adults, though some wizarding professions do require special, years-long training programmes after finishing Hogwarts. These include the professions of the Auror and the Healer (the wizard physician). Sometimes, the young travel the world to "observe foreign witches and wizards" after graduation to complete their education. In the Deathly Hallows, Elphias Doge describes how his plans to travel the world with his friend Dumbledore were disrupted by the passing of the latter's mother. Similarly, Professor Quirrell took time off to gain first hand experience after a celebrated academic career.
Wizarding Examinations Authority
The Wizarding Examinations Authority is an organisation responsible for examining students in their fifth and seventh years taking their O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. exams. These relate to the Muggle world's GCSE and A-Level examinations in English, Welsh and Northern Irish schools (National 5 and Higher in Scottish schools) in the UK. The head of the Authority, Griselda Marchbanks, is an elderly witch who examined a school-aged Dumbledore in his N.E.W.T.s.
Ordinary Wizarding Levels (O.W.L.s) are wizarding examinations taken in the fifth year. O.W.Ls affect what jobs a witch or wizard is eligible for after school, and are presided over by the Wizarding Examinations Authority (see above).
|O||Outstanding||Highest grade possible|
|E||Exceeds Expectations||Above average|
|A||Acceptable||Average; the lowest passing grade|
|D||Dreadful||Lowest common grade; fail grade|
|T||Troll||Lowest grade; unknown if actually possible|
Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests (N.E.W.T.s) are wizarding examinations taken in the seventh year. N.E.W.T.s are the final test to see what jobs a witch or wizard is eligible for. While Hermione goes back to Hogwarts to take her exams in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry and Ron never take their N.E.W.T.s, even though both were accepted into the Auror Office in the Ministry of Magic.
Known foreign schools
- Beauxbatons Academy of Magic in France
- Durmstrang Institute in Northern Europe
- Ilvermorny in North America
- Uagadou in Africa
- Mahoutokoro in Japan
- Castelobruxo (pronounced cah-stelo-bru-sho) in Brazil
- Koldovstoretz in Russia
- Euro-Glyph School of Extraordinary Languages
- Merge School of Under-Water Spellage
- Wizarding Academy of Dramatic Arts (W.A.D.A.)
A fictional system of currency is used by the wizards of the United Kingdom. The currency uses only coins as the units of account. It is based on three types of coin; in order of decreasing value, the gold Galleon, the silver Sickle, and the bronze Knut. Wizarding banks provide money-changing services for those with Muggle currency. The only bank seen in the Harry Potter series is Gringotts, which is located on Diagon Alley in London and has hundreds of vaults. In these vaults, a person can keep whatever he or she wants (like a security vault). Hagrid indicates that wizards have "just the one" bank.
The Galleon is the largest and most valuable coin in the British wizard currency. It is gold, round and larger than the other coins are.
Around the rim of the Galleon is inscribed at least one serial number, which identifies the goblin who was responsible for minting the coin. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hermione enchants fake Galleons to show the time and date of the next Dumbledore's Army meeting instead of the serial number.
As explained in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone there are 17 silver Sickles to a gold Galleon, and 29 bronze Knuts to a Sickle.
According to Pottermore, the wizards never changed their units of measurement (i.e. feet to metres, ounces to grams, pounds to kilograms, etc.) because they can do the calculations with magic, so strange number conversions don't bother them.
|One Knut is||One Sickle is||One Galleon is|
|1 Knut||29 Knuts||493 Knuts|
|0.03448... Sickles||1 Sickle||17 Sickles|
|0.002028... Galleons||0.05882... Galleons||1 Galleon|
In the book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, it is said that the £174 million raised for charity is equivalent to 34,000,872 Galleons, 14 Sickles, and 7 Knuts (the figure is truncated to "over thirty-four million Galleons" in Quidditch Through the Ages). This means that £5.12 = 1 galleon. However, the book's cover price is £2.50 ($3.99 US), or "14 Sickles and 3 Knuts," which implies either an exchange rate of £3.01 = 1 galleon or a 41% discount to Muggle purchasers.
Games and sports
Sports, specifically Quidditch, play an important role in the Wizarding world, and in the Harry Potter series. Quidditch is a team sport played up in the air on brooms. Wizards all around the globe fanatically follow it in a similar manner to football, and the Quidditch World Cup is a major event in the wizard calendar.
Harry is a great player at Hogwarts and several Harry Potter books detail his activity on the Quidditch pitch. Harry has helped lead Gryffindor to several wins. Harry is the Seeker for his team whose role is to try to find and catch the Golden Snitch.[HP1] Until he graduated from school, Lee Jordan was the commentator for the Quidditch matches at Hogwarts. Contrasting all previous books, Quidditch does not appear in the final book.[HP7]
Other wizard games and sports include Gobstones (a version of marbles in which the stones squirt foul-smelling liquid into the other player's face when they lose a point), Exploding Snap (a card game in which the cards explode), and Wizard Chess (in which the pieces are sentient and under the command of the player). The wizarding world is also home to a number of other wizard spectator sports, such as Creaothceann (a now-banned broom game from Scotland in which players try to catch rocks with cauldrons strapped to their heads), QuodPot (a popular game in the United States involving a Quaffle that explodes), and broom racing.
Several magical communication methods are available to the wizarding world.
By far the most popular method of communication is by way of owls. Owls are used for conveying packages, with multiple owls acting in concert for heavier ones; sending mail; delivering newspapers; and acting as a replacement for the Postal Service of the Muggle world. If an owl delivers something such as a newspaper, the recipient places the money for the paper in a small pouch attached to the owl's leg. Not only owls may be used; Sirius Black makes use of a tropical bird, likely a macaw, on one occasion. The Ministry of Magic regulates Owl Mail.
How the owls find the recipients of the letters they carry is not specifically stated. In some circumstance, letters have extremely explicit addresses to them (specifying rooms or locations inside of a building). Other times, there is no mention of an address, and the owl is simply told to whom to deliver. The Ministry of Magic used owls to deliver inter-office mail within the ministry building, but according to Mr. Weasley, the mess was incredible, so enchanted memos, which fly throughout the building as paper aeroplanes, replaced owls.
In addition, though owls are portrayed as flying directly to the recipient of their package, it is implied that owl traffic can be monitored and even interrupted. There are several references to "the owls being watched" and Harry uses different owls to communicate with Sirius (his godfather) since his snowy owl, Hedwig, would supposedly attract too much attention. On one occasion Hedwig is injured after being intercepted and searched (supposedly by Umbridge).
A Patronus can also be used for communication by accomplished, experienced witches and wizards. Albus Dumbledore devised a method of using Patronuses to deliver vocal messages, putting this to the exclusive use of the Order of the Phoenix. Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and Arthur Weasley all deliver messages via Patronus in the course of the series. McGonagall is also the only character in the series to have shown the ability to project multiple Patronuses for sending messages.
Severus Snape used his Patronus to lead Harry Potter to the forest pool wherein Gryffindor's sword was hidden in The Deathly Hallows.
These flying paper aeroplanes, (referred to as "interdepartmental memos") are used within the Ministry of Magic. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when Arthur Weasley takes Harry to the Ministry of Magic, Mr. Weasley explains that these took the place of the owls to minimise the mess. They are pale violet with MINISTRY OF MAGIC stamped along the edges of the wings.
Dark magic communication
Lord Voldemort uses a method of communication called the Dark Mark which is like a burn or tattoo engraved on the inner forearms of the Death Eaters. When the mark is pressed, contact is made with other Death Eaters and Voldemort himself.
Those who follow Voldemort consider the Dark Mark to be of great importance, and while some people are 'lucky' enough to have one, the privilege is restricted to those of 'pure' blood. It is stated that Fenrir Greyback (a vicious werewolf) is not allowed the Dark Mark, which is likely because he is a werewolf.
Hermione uses the principle of the Dark Mark in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Instead of burning/engraving the message into the members of Dumbledore's Army's skin, she uses fake Galleons which all mimic each other and have messages on the rim. Later Malfoy and Madam Rosmerta, who was under the Imperius Curse, used Galleons to contact each other.
Wizards and witches often Apparate to their destinations, which is quite similar to teleportation. It is quite difficult to Apparate; therefore underage wizards and witches are forbidden to do it. There are many examples of failed Apparition attempts made by people who have not passed their "Apparition test", which is like a Muggle driving test. If not Apparating correctly, a person may lose a body part in the process. To lose a body part via Apparition is referred to as getting "splinched". In Deathly Hallows, Ron gets splinched after being grabbed by Yaxley, a Death Eater. Hermione heals him with a liquid - essence of dittany - that she carried in her bag, a process which takes several days.
Characters in the series make use of several magical devices and artifacts to transport themselves within the Wizarding World and to the Muggle world. Among the most common of these objects are broomsticks, the Floo Network (a network of fireplaces magically connected to one another), the Knight Bus, and the Hogwarts Express. Some characters have been known to enchant Muggle vehicles to have magical features, such as Arthur Weasley's Ford Anglia or Sirius Black's Flying Motorbike. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a discussion is held around the politics of importing flying carpets.
Portkeys are used if witches or wizards are unable to Apparate, whether that be because they are unable to or because they have an underage witch or wizard in their company. Portkeys can be almost anything, usually a mundane, everyday object that would easily be overlooked by a muggle. Using the charm "Portus," they are able to carry the user to their destination, so long as the user has hold of the object upon leaving. Portkeys are able to carry multiple people at once, an example being in "The Goblet of Fire" when Harry, Hermione Granger, the Weasleys and the Diggorys travel to the Quidditch World Cup.
Thestrals are skeletal, winged horses, black in colour, which can only seen by those who have witnessed death firsthand. They pull the Hogwarts school coaches and can also be tamed and ridden. This method of transportation was used in Order of the Phoenix, when members of the Dumbledore's Army needed to go to the Ministry of Magic to rescue Sirius Black, and also used when transporting Harry from the Dursleys' house to The Burrow in Deathly Hallows. Other magical birds have also been known to be flown; for instance Buckbeak the hippogriff by Harry, Hermione and Sirius in Prisoner of Azkaban.
Newspapers and magazines
The Daily Prophet
The Daily Prophet is the most widely read daily newspaper in Britain's wizard community. The articles include moving pictures. Its journalistic integrity is lacking; it has been known to be more concerned about sales than about factual accuracy and is often a mouthpiece for the Ministry of Magic; as described by Rita Skeeter, "The Prophet exists to sell itself!"
The Prophet remains respectable for the first three books, but by Goblet of Fire, it has hired Rita Skeeter, an unscrupulous journalist who supplies several thrilling and blatantly false articles. These include an article that, while correctly asserting that Hagrid is part giant, also makes numerous scurrilous accusations about his personal character, and declares Harry "disturbed and dangerous" based on remarks by Draco Malfoy. When Minister Fudge takes the stance of firmly denying Voldemort's return, the Prophet initiates a smear campaign against Dumbledore and Harry, the most influential proponents of the opposing view. After Fudge is forced to admit that Voldemort has returned, the Prophet changes its stance overnight, calling Harry "a lone voice of truth". The newspaper even buys, from The Quibbler, Harry's interview on Voldemort's return and claims it to be exclusive.
The editor of The Daily Prophet is Barnabas Cuffe, a former pupil of the Potions master Horace Slughorn. It is unclear how long he has been editor of The Daily Prophet. According to J. K. Rowling, in the events after the book series, Ginny Weasley becomes Senior Quidditch correspondent at The Daily Prophet, after her retirement from the Holyhead Harpies. The Daily Prophet has a late edition named The Evening Prophet, and a weekend edition named The Sunday Prophet.
The Quibbler is a magazine first mentioned in Order of the Phoenix.
The magazine's editor is Xenophilius Lovegood. The Quibbler mainstays are conspiracy theories and cryptozoology. Articles in The Quibbler have claimed that Fudge has had goblins cooked in pies, and uses the Department of Mysteries to develop terrible poisons, which he supposedly feeds to people who disagree with him, and that he has a secret army of fire-demons called "heliopaths". Numerous (presumably imaginary) beasts are mentioned in The Quibbler, such as Crumple-Horned Snorkacks (which supposedly live in Sweden and cannot fly), the Blibbering Humdinger and Nargles (which are supposed to infest mistletoe).
In Order of the Phoenix, Hermione blackmails Rita Skeeter into writing an article about Harry's encounter with Voldemort. The interview is published by Xenophilius, and he later sells it to the Daily Prophet for a good price (enough to finance an expedition to Sweden to hunt for the Crumple-Horned Snorkack). In Deathly Hallows, Xenophilius continues to support Harry in his magazine until his daughter Luna gets kidnapped to silence him. Harry, Ron, and Hermione visit Xenophilius for information but discover that the latest issue features an anti-Harry story on the cover. Following Voldemort's ultimate defeat, the Quibbler goes back to its condition of advanced lunacy and becomes popular, still being appreciated for its unintentional humour.
- Which Broomstick?: a magazine about flying broomsticks. Harry frequently browses through the magazine when searching for a replacement broomstick in his third year, and it is implied that Sirius uses it to buy Harry's Christmas present, a Firebolt. Ron mentions the magazine when showing off his new Cleansweep, as does Lee Jordan in Prisoner of Azkaban.
- Witch Weekly: a magazine for witches, in the style of Woman's Weekly. Rita has mentioned Witch Weekly as publishing interviews. Witch Weekly is first mentioned in the second book of the Harry Potter series, Chamber of Secrets, as Gilderoy Lockhart had won its "Most Charming Smile" award five times in a row and Rita Skeeter wrote a story in Goblet of Fire.
- Transfiguration Today: a periodical journal for the advanced study of Transfiguration. Magical scholars, such as Albus Dumbledore, are its contributors and readership.
- Challenges in Charming
- The Practical Potioneer
Food and beverages
The following are food and beverages unique to the wizarding world:
Multitudes of sweets are referred to in the stories; many have a violent or bizarre side effect, especially those created by Fred and George Weasley. Most sweets can be found in the sweetshop Honeydukes. Dumbledore seems to be partial to these as he often uses their names as passwords.
Chocolate Frogs are, as the name suggests, frogs made of chocolate, and are very popular wizarding sweets. They are each packaged with a collectible card displaying a magical picture and brief biography of a famous witch or wizard of medieval to modern times. Cards named in the Harry Potter series include: Merlin, Dumbledore, Nicholas Flamel, the four founders of Hogwarts, Agrippa, Ptolemy, Morgana, Hengist of Woodcroft, Alberic Grunnion, Circe, Paracelsus, Druidess Cliodna, Crospin Conk, Bertie Bott, Felix Summerbee, Cassandra Vablatsky, and Ignatia Wildsmith. According to a web chat with the author, Harry and his friends are eventually featured on a series of Chocolate Frog cards; Ron calling it "his finest hour".
Some of the most notable magical sweets such as Bertie Bott's Every-Flavour Beans, Skiving Snackboxes and Cockroach Clusters have been manufactured in real life, mainly by the Jelly Belly candy company. They have produced real versions of Bertie Bott's Every-Flavour Beans odd flavours in and out of the market since 2001. Apart from some "regular" flavours, the company also produces several "unusual" flavours mentioned in the books. Other flavours include bacon, dirt, earthworm, earwax, vomit, rotten egg, sausage, pickle, toast, grass and soap.
A description of Honeydukes in the third book says that the store sells candies called Coconut Ice, Ice Mice (which make your teeth chatter and squeak), Fizzing Whizbees, Pepper Imps (which allow you to breathe fire on your friends), Sugar Quills, Cockroach Clusters, self-flossing mints, Drooble's Best Blowing Gum (which make a room fill up with bluebell-coloured bubbles which wouldn't pop for days), Peppermint Creams shaped like toads (which hop in your stomach), Exploding Bonbons, Jelly Slugs, Acid Pops, and blood-flavoured lollipops.
Butterbeer is the drink of choice for younger wizards. Harry is first presented with the beverage in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Although house-elves can become intoxicated on Butterbeer, the amount of alcohol contained in Butterbeer has a negligible effect on Witches and Wizards. J.K. Rowling said in her interview to Bon Appétit magazine that she imagines it "to taste a little bit like less-sickly butterscotch". Butterbeer can be served cold or hot, but either way it has a warming effect.
The earliest reference to buttered beer is from The Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin, published in London in 1588. It was made from beer, sugar, eggs, nutmeg, cloves and butter. Another old recipe for buttered beer, published by Robert May in 1664 from his recipe book The Accomplisht Cook, calls for liquorice root and aniseed to be added. British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal recreated the drink for his show "Heston's Tudor Feast".
It was announced in April 2010 that a drink named after butterbeer would be sold in the theme park The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. The beverage is also sold at The World of Harry Potter Studios in Watford, England. It has a sweet taste and is a non-alcoholic beverage. It was taste-tested by J. K. Rowling herself. According to Neil Genzlinger, a staff editor on the culture desk of The New York Times, the beverage "is indistinguishable from a good quality cream soda".
Firewhisky is a type of alcohol that wizards under the age of seventeen are not allowed to drink; however, this rule is not always followed. Firewhisky is described as burning the drinkers' throats as they consume it.
It can be seen as a very strong whisky, and by all intents is used as such. The characters drink it in the last book when Mad-Eye Moody dies in flight, to numb the shock and toast to his life. Hagrid also drinks it, although in much larger quantities.
Pumpkin juice is a cold drink favoured by the Wizarding world, and among the students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It is drunk at any occasion, such as breakfast, lunch, at feasts or on other occasions. It seems to have taken on the same role that orange juice has to Muggles.
Pumpkin juice is readily available, and can be purchased on the Hogwarts Express. Severus Snape threatened to Harry in his fourth year that he might slip Veritaserum in his morning pumpkin juice while believing that Harry had stolen some of Snape's potion ingredients. Prior to a Quidditch match in his sixth year, Ron Weasley believed that Harry had slipped Felix Felicis into his morning juice to help him play perfectly.
Pumpkin Juice is one of several speciality beverages developed for Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park (along with butterbeer, see above). According to a preview by The New York Times' Neil Genzlinger, "Pumpkin juice (in a cute, pumpkin-topped bottle) is far more interesting [than the park's butterbeer], perhaps because the actual pumpkin content seems minimal – it’s more like a feisty apple cider with a little pumpkin thrown in."
Gillywater is a beverage sold in the Harry Potter universe. Professor McGonagall drinks this in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
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