Spoiler briefing: There are spoilers from Books 1, 2, and 7. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is mentioned briefly at the end, but there aren’t really any spoilers. If you really want to avoid seeing anything whatsoever about Cursed Child, I highly admire your self-control and dedication. Simply stop reading when you see the double horizontal rule like this:
Warning: This post will be a very rigorous proof that the date and time of the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows are … well, you’ll see! If you don’t like rigor, then skip to the end. Also, you may like to know that (if you don’t like rigor), you’ll never survive geometry. Figuratively, that is.
Also: If you find an(y) error(s) or shaky bit(s) of proof, please leave a comment about them/it! Especially if you know how to correct them/it.
In the Harry Potter books, if you want to find out on what date a given thing happens*, how do you go about it? Well, what information do you have?
- You are given lots of relative times — for example, you are told that each book happens about a year after the last one.
- You are also given names of holidays on which things happen — for example, Mrs. Norris is Petrified on Halloween.
*If you want to know why anyone would ever want to do such a thing … well, there are some pretty hard-core (and slightly crazy) Potterheads out there. (Example: me.) We do strange things sometimes. Actually, you’re probably like that too — if you aren’t, how did you get this far in the post?
But this doesn’t do you much good unless you have an absolute time. You need some day, month, and year to work from. Otherwise, how do you know whether Book Two happened a year after 1991 or 1973 or 2071?
Luckily, we do have some dates. One is Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Headless-Porpington’s death-date — 31 Oct 1492 (from his cake). Another is the day Harry’s parents die — 31 Oct 1981. This date is from James and Lily’s gravestone.
J.K.R. is big on Halloween, huh?
All right! Let’s get started! No Internet info, no movie info. We will just use the facts in the books.
The following proof may not be the best proof, and it’s certainly not the only one, but here we go.
So the first thing we’ll do is determine the month, day, and approximate time of the epilogue. The epilogue takes place on Platform 9 3/4, when Harry and Ginny’s kids are leaving for Hogwarts. Let’s look at the first book.
“Yer ticket fer Hogwarts,” [Hagrid] said. “First o’ September — King’s Cross — it’s all on yer ticket.”
And a couple pages later:
“I just take the train from platform nine and three-quarters at eleven o’clock,” [Harry] read.
And if you look at the epilogue itself, it says “[t]he morning of the first of September” too! So we have Platform 9 3/4, September First, almost certainly around 11:00 in the morning.
Now for the year! As Nearly Headless Nick’s deathday was 31 Oct 1492, and his 500th deathday occurs during Book Two, we know Book Two takes place (at least partly) in 1992. Also, at the beginning of Chamber of Secrets, it says:
The Dursleys hadn’t even remembered that today happened to be Harry’s twelfth birthday.
So we know that Harry turns 12 in Book Two. As he turns 12 in the summer vacation (school hasn’t started yet — he’s at the Dursleys’, after all), and as Halloween 1992 and the deathday party come later in the book, and no other summer vacations come in between, we know that Harry turns 12 in the summer of 1992. Yes!
Now, Harry’s 17th birthday takes place near the beginning of HP7. As Harry turned 12 in Summer 1992, he must turn 17 in Summer 1997. So does the Battle of Hogwarts take place in 1997? No! Here’s why. When Harry and Hermione go to Godric’s Hollow, Hermione says she thinks it’s Christmas Eve — she’s sure of it. All evidence supports this theory. And there’s snow on the ground, so it’s probably not still summer.
I actually counted the days from there (I told you I was a bit crazy), and there were enough days to get to the 1st of January (1998), plus a couple mentions of “weeks” going by. Then I saw this:
“I’m sorry,” he told Fleur, one blustery April evening as he helped her prepare dinner. “I never meant you to have to deal with all of this.”
That quote is from after Godric’s Hollow — it’s from when they’re at Shell Cottage! So it’s an April after Christmas Eve 1997 — so it’s April 1998! The Battle of Hogwarts takes place in 1998!
Wait. How do we know it’s 1998 and not 1999 or 2000 or even later? Oh no! There’s a Flaw in my Plan!
Aha! By George (and Fred), I’ve got it! During the Battle of Hogwarts, Ginny’s still only sixteen!
“A teenagers’ gang that’s about to take him on, which no one else has dared to do!” said Fred.
“[Ginny]’s sixteen!” shouted Mrs. Weasley. “She’s not old enough! What you two were thinking, bringing her with you –“
And Ginny’s about a year younger than Harry, Ron, and Hermione — she starts her first year when they start their second. So Harry’s still about 17 during the battle. And anyway, nobody says anything about a new school year beginning. So it’s not 1999 at this point — it’s the school year of ’97 – ’98. And we’ve already proved that the battle doesn’t take place in 1997, so clearly, the Battle of Hogwarts takes place in 1998.
And the epilogue is 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts, so the epilogue takes place in 1998 + 19 = ………
There you have it! The epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
takes place will take place on September First, 2017, from slightly before 11 AM to slightly after 11 AM.
And we didn’t use a single piece of information from the Internet! Not that the Internet isn’t great, but the books are the originals!
**This is the drumroll.
So in a year and a day, Harry Potter will officially be in the past. That is, the first seven books will be in the past. But what about Cursed Child? Maybe I’ll write another post about that….