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Harry Potter Can Make You a Nicer Person

I would just like to highlight (cough, cough) the fact that PEOPLE WHO READ HARRY POTTER ARE MORE EMPATHETIC.  It’s science.  No, I mean, literally, it’s the subject of a scientific paper.  According to Mugglenet (yes, I read Mugglenet too):

In a paper published online in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology this week, researchers from Italy and the University of Greenwich report that students who read the Harry Potter series are less prejudiced against stigmatized groups than those who have not.

Methinks that my love of Harry Potter keeps me from being a total dick.

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Today is Neville Longbottom’s birthday followed tomorrow by Harry Potter’s birthday.  One of my favourite lines from the book is in reference to Neville Longbottom: “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”  It’s hard to call people on their shit, especially people you love that you don’t want to hurt or offend.  But… sometimes we have to speak up.

The kids had this great third grade teacher who imparted a Neville Longbottom-ish message to them throughout the year: learn how to stick up for one another because you’ll be in middle school sooner than you think.

stickup

In other words, if the 50 or so kids in their grade all make the promise to stick up for one another when they see someone being bullied, they will know as they mix with the sea of kids in middle school that there are 49 people in the school who have their back.  49 people having your back?  It’s brilliant.  Who is going to bully a kid who has 49 other kids supporting him/her?

So, I pass it along to you.  Kids don’t always need to be fantastic friends.  They don’t need to harbour deep wells of love for one another.  But having each other’s back?  That is such a simple thing to do, especially if you know in speaking up to a bully that 49 other people have your back in turn.

Happy birthday, Neville and Harry.  Thank you for teaching us so many valuable lessons.

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The ChickieNob often asks questions as we read Harry Potter to which I have no answer, so I turn these two over to the collective brilliance of the Internet.  Onward!

(Uh, though first a warning: question one contains a spoiler.)

Question One: Bellatrix has her wand taken away when she goes to Azkaban, which we know happens to every Azkaban prisoner.  Yet when she escapes Azkaban, she has a wand.  And she not only has a wand, she has her wand (which I know is only clear in Book Seven, but I shared that small fact with the ChickieNob as she was sussing this out).  How did Bellatrix get her wand back?  In fact, all the escaped Death Eaters seem to have wands.  Are we to understand that these escapees were not only lucky enough to escape BUT they also were able to get their own wands out from whatever protective measures were being used to store wands in Azkaban?

Question Two: This one is a bit more subjective.  You see, the ChickieNob is very concerned for her brother when it comes to their acceptance to Hogwarts.  She has a strong feeling that she is going to get an owl when she turns 11, and it would follow that her twin brother would get one too.  But he is a very picky eater.

She wants to know what happens if you don’t like what they’re serving at Hogwarts?  She asks (nervously): “What if they only have two vegetarian options and you don’t like either one?”  Though, have you EVER seen any vegetarian options at Hogwarts?  A vegetarian protein option?  I haven’t.

Yes, parents can send care packages, but at no point in the series do you see a kid reject the meal before them on the table.  In fact, no one at Hogwarts seems to be a vegetarian.  Or keep kosher.  Or keep halal.  Isn’t that a little odd?  I mean, yes, it’s England, and I get that Christianity is the dominant religion.  But really?  No vegetarians at the very least?  Picky eaters?

Do you have an answer to either question?

10 comments

1 nicoleandmaggie { 07.30.14 at 8:23 am }

I assume that the magicking of the food takes dietary restrictions into account.

My daughter has the same birthday as Neville Longbottom!

2 Jodi { 07.30.14 at 8:47 am }

I don’t know. I don’t really like Harry Potter. (I’m sorry. I know) I read them with Michael. (He LOVES THEM). I still think I’m kind of a decent human being.

3 Katherine A { 07.30.14 at 9:21 am }

Or accounting for food allergies. Huh. Hadn’t thought about that.

I think I’ve always pictured the food at Hogwarts a bit like a college dining hall with more or less a buffet situation with different options for those with different tastes/needs.

As far as the wands…that is an excellent question. Maybe one of the death eaters in the Ministry of Magic was able to take it out of evidence or holding – or had a lower ranking individual do it either by threats, coercion, or bribery and take the fall. I mean, Lucius Malfoy seemed to get away with a lot of sneaky, nasty stuff because of his connections and money.

Good questions.

4 trendyvulcan { 07.30.14 at 10:02 am }

I always figured that since the dementors and plenty of folks in the Ministrt of Magic were in Voldemort’s pocket, they just worked it out so that the wands would be returned to their rightful owners. I mean, Voldemort is the king of all schemers. The guy spent 5 years figuring out how to open the Chamber of Secrets. AND he got it pinned on Hagrid. AND he got a fake Mad Eye Moody in to teach at Hogwartsletter RIGHT under Dumbledore’s nose. Let’s not even mention Project Immortality By Horcruxes After that, getting their wands out of storage and returned to them – that was just a minor detail of the whole mass break-out of Azkaban scheme.

If I’m being honest though, I suspect the wands were returned to them just before or right as they were breaking out of Azkaban. I would further speculate that they were replaced with fake or mediocre replicas so as to not raise suspicion while they were en route to Azkaban before the break out.

Chickie Nob asks some fantastic questions 🙂 you can assure her that when I visited Hogwarts as a vegan, a simple summoning spell took all of the animal bits out of my food. So while there were some things that the spell didn’t help with (meat pies, for example), it was handy with breads and casseroles that had just a little meat or milk in them. But fortunately, the House Elves are very accommodating, and so that was only necessary a few times. The students of Indian descent have supplied the kitchens with quite a few delicious vegetarian recipes, and frankly, the House Elves seemed quite relieved to cook something other than traditional English food.

5 a { 07.30.14 at 10:11 am }

I would guess that since the wand knows its rightful owner, it and the owner have a connection that makes sure they end up together ic possible.

Alsk, I’m sure the house elves will make you the proper food. They know everything.

6 Mina { 07.30.14 at 4:21 pm }

I think that whoever helped the death eaters lot escape from Azkaban made sure they have their own wands back. After one escapes from Azkaban, one is expected to be on top shape and perform any magic for their dark lord without having to spend time getting to know and breaking in a new wand.

And I am pretty sure the elves can accomodate any kind of dietary regimen. Just because the children that we “see” eating don’t seem to have any restrictions, it does not mean that there aren’t children at Hogwarts who only eat certain foods. I think “normal” issues, like food and bathrooms’ location, are not discussed about precisely because of their normalcy. Although I do wonder where the common bathrooms are, they should be near the dormitories, right, otherwise I imagine mornings are rather erm… strained? JKR is not a stranger to children, so she knows better than having early teens, first time in an unknown environment, sleep half an hour away from a loo. And also it would be cruel to have to go outside the tower, give the Fat Lady the password, waste so much time on a little wee – they must have at least a toilet near the dorms. And just because there is no mention of any such thing, it does not mean that there is no toilet in the Gryffindor tower, or Slytherin dungeon, etc. Dumbledore’s finding the chamber of Necessity full of chamber pots is an odd, dumbledoresque event, and has no relevance on the subject.

So, I’d say input and output are normal things that we don’t spend that much time talking about. Wolvog will be perfectly fine at Hogwarts and there will be a little elf fixing him exactly what his little heart desires to eat.

7 chickenpog { 07.30.14 at 7:08 pm }

I assumed that they bought replacement wands. Wands can be lost, stolen, and destroyed so reasonably they should be able to replace them with another wand that suits them. And they can use other ppl’s wands as well. Whatever wands they got they hands on after escaping would still be THEIR wands, even if it was a replacement, no?

I just assumed since the food was magically put on the table by the house elves, that if students had allergies/dietary restrictions that they would take that into account when the student arrived. As for picky eaters, having a buffet is a dream come true. My son looooves the holidays when we have a plethora of appetizers and sides and no rules…you want to make a dinner of bri cheese, corn chips, and black olives? have at it, kid. But Chickienob’s insightful questions have me asking her one of my own. Do you think there is a place for an autistic wizard at Hogwarts?

8 Queenie { 07.30.14 at 9:06 pm }

There’s always a huge range of food on the table at Hogwarts. I’m sure we’ve all just overlooked the veg, because the meat pies are so delicious. 🙂

9 Persnickety { 07.31.14 at 7:47 am }

I too thought they bought their wands after escape. Or had them made by olivander- he disappeared very early on I thought- before year six from memory- so he was put to work making wands.

I actually attended a boarding school in the UK in the 90’s ( when the books take place) and we definitely had halal food and probably kosher, but it wasn’t something that was noticed unless you wanted to. So I would assume it is the same at hogwarts. Although I notice they have very traditional British food.

10 Battynurse { 08.17.14 at 1:31 pm }

I don’t have answers to chickienobs questions although I have wondered about the wands before. Also about voldemorts wand. After he tried to kill Harry and lost his powers, how did he keep his wand.
I also have a question that I always wonder. Harry gets a letter and warning from the ministry of magic for the floating pudding that Dobby did. He was blamed for it. How come there isn’t a problem with the order of the Phoenix doing magic in the house when they come to get him?

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