The Witchhiker’s Guide to the Wizarding World: Harry Potter’s 42nd Birthday

This year marks Harry Potter’s 42nd birthday. 42 might not seem like a particularly significant birthday, but any reader of Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy knows 42 to be the most important number of all, the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. Harry might seem a little slow on the uptake sometimes, but he learned a lot in his years studying at Hogwarts and fighting Voldemort. In honor of his birthday, Mr. Potter has been kind enough to give a gift himself in the form of some of the wisdom he picked up during his 42 years of life. Here are seven pieces of insight and advice for anyone navigating the wizarding world from the birthday boy himself:

  • When facing great danger, DON’T PANIC. You’re a wizard. There’s always good old Expelliarmus if you’re in a tight spot.
  • An Invisibility Cloak is about the most massively useful thing a wizard can have. Partly it has great practical value – you can hide under it to avoid detention; you can use it to break into Gringotts. More importantly, an Invisibility Cloak has immense psychological value. It can connect you with your dead father and make you Master of Death.
  • In the beginning, Slytherin House was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
  • Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made Minister of Magic should on no account be allowed to do the job.
  • There is an art, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to not get jinxed, hit by rogue Bludgers, or attacked by Dementors.
  • There are times when I really wish I’d listened to what Hermione told me when I was younger. What did she tell me? I don’t know; I didn’t listen.
  • The Sorting Hat’s poetry is, of course, the third worst in the universe. The second worst is that of Peeves, the poltergeist. The very worst poetry of all was a valentine written to me by Ginny Weasley in 1993.

There you have it, some of the valuable lessons Harry gained and now bequeaths to you. We wish him the happiest 42nd birthday.



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Laurie Beckoff

My Harry Potter journey began in 2000 when I was six and continued through a bachelor's thesis and master's dissertation on medievalism in the series. I'm a Gryffindor from New York City with a passion for theatre, fantasy, Arthurian legend, and science fiction.