Happy birthday, Harry Potter!
The protagonist, arguably the best-known literary hero of the past 20 years, happens to share a birthday with his creator, J.K. Rowling. This year – if we're relying on the calendar that governs the Potter universe – Harry would be celebrating his 33rd birthday.
Over his seven years (well, really six) as a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, many interesting and sometimes catastrophic events fell on Harry’s special day. Is he just a magnet for chaos, or is it merely that, as he said wearily in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “I don't go looking for trouble. Trouble usually finds me”?
Either way, here’s how Harry spent his birthday during the years his faithful readers came to know him. (Warning: spoilers for the series.)
Age 11: This was possibly Harry's most memorable birthday of all. Shortly past midnight on this day, a half-giant named Rubeus Hagrid broke down the door of the tiny cabin in which Harry, his uncle Vernon Dursley, aunt Petunia, and cousin Dudley were sleeping with very important news for Harry: He was a wizard.
Age 12: On the day of Harry’s 12th birthday, he was feeling lonely and neglected because he had been trapped at the Dursleys’ house all summer and his two best friends, Ron and Hermione, hadn’t sent him any letters or packages all summer. While the Dursleys entertained one of Vernon’s business clients downstairs and Harry sat, banished, in his room, he soon learned why he hadn’t received any correspondence. A house elf named Dobby, who appeared in his room, had been intercepting the letters in an attempt to discourage Harry from returning to Hogwarts, where Dobby believed he would be in danger. In an attempt to make Harry promise not to go back, Dobby levitated the pudding intended for the Dursleys’ dessert. When Harry refused, Dobby let it fall to the floor and disappeared. Harry was instantly blamed for the accident and confined to his room by the Dursleys.
Age 13: Compared to his previous birthdays, Harry spends this one quietly. Midnight arriving brings letters from his friends Ron and Hermione, who tell him of their vacations in Egypt and France, respectively.
Age 14: Harry’s 14th birthday is unseen by the reader in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” but Harry thinks fondly of the birthday cakes sent to him by Ron, Hermione, and his godfather Sirius, which got him through a long stint in which everyone in the Dursley household was put on a diet.
Age 15: Harry’s birthday is not celebrated during the events of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” but it is during this time that Harry is staying at the Dursleys, angry over the lack of news of Voldemort’s return that he’s receiving from his friends and wishing he was able to be involved with the fight against Voldemort.
Age 16: Harry was able to spend his 16th birthday at the home of the Weasleys, his friend Ron’s family. The Weasleys threw him a birthday party, but the celebrations were brought down by the news that a defector of the evil wizard Voldemort had been found dead and that Garrick Ollivander, the primary wand maker in the wizarding world, had disappeared.
Age 17: Harry was again staying with the Weasleys for his 17th birthday and the family gave a party for him which took place the day before the oldest Weasley son’s marriage. However, the party was interrupted when the Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, arrived and presented Harry, Ron, and Hermione with three magical objects which were left to them by Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore in his will and which would help them on their quest to destroy Voldemort.