How do we celebrate the birthday of someone who is entirely fictional? Pack your wand, hop on your broomstick and join us on July 31! We are exploring the inspiration behind the magical world of Harry Potter, one of the world’s most beloved characters. Author J.K. Rowling, who set this whole universe in motion with the release of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” in 1997, also — if you can believe it — shares the same birthday as Harry himself. Coincidence? If you want to celebrate in style, check out our gift guide for Harry Potter fans.
When is Harry Potter's Birthday 2023?
The Boy Who Lived is celebrated on Harry Potter’s Birthday on July 31.
History of Harry Potter's Birthday
Harry James Potter is the protagonist of J.K. Rowling’s phenomenal fictional book series. The story’s plot spans seven years of his life, starting on his 11 birthday when he learns that he is a wizard. He attends the prestigious Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, run by Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, to learn magic under the guidance of his revered school professors. He becomes best friends with Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, and soon discovers that his fate and destiny are tied to the dark wizard and murderer, Lord Voldemort. The record-breaking fictional series follows Harry as he juggles his school life and his predestined battle with Voldemort.
Harry Potter is an icon in pop culture and has been ranked by numerous readers, critics, and audiences as among the greatest fictional characters of all time. Actor Daniel Radcliffe played Harry in the live-action movie adaptations, from “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (2001) to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2” (2011).
According to author J.K. Rowling, she conjured up the idea for the Harry Potter series while waiting for a train from Manchester to London, England, in 1990. During the train ride, she came up with the story and the main characters. Over the next five years, Rowling worked on the manuscript for her story, writing many of the first drafts in cafes in Edinburgh.
Unfortunately, her story was met with multiple rejections, until it was finally picked up by Bloomsbury. And so, 500 copies of the hardback print of the first title in the series, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” were introduced to the world on June 26, 1997.
That’s when the real magic started. The first book caused a sensation in the literary world and sold more than 450 million copies worldwide. Harry Potter became an addiction for both children and adults, and we have Rowling to thank for piquing children’s interest in reading again.
Harry Potter's Birthday timeline
Author and creator of the “Harry Potter” series, J.K. Rowling, is born in Bristol, England.
When Harry Potter is born to wizarding parents, James and Lily Potter, no one could have envisioned the chain of events set in motion on that day.
When Harry is just one year old, Voldemort attacks and kills his parents in their home, although unsuccessful at killing Harry, only leaving a lightning-bolt-shaped scar on his forehead.
On Harry's 11th birthday, he learns that he is a wizard, and goes to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
On his 13th birthday, Harry’s Godfather Sirius Black gifts him with a Firebolt flying broomstick.
During his last year at Hogwarts, Harry and his friends, Ron and Hermione, rally all the students and staff for a final battle to defeat the Dark Lord, Voldemort.
Married couples Harry and Ginny (Ron's younger sister) and Ron and Hermione meet at the train station to see their own young children off to their first year at Hogwarts.
Harry Potter's Birthday Traditions
Harry Potter’s Birthday is not only a huge day of celebration in the wizarding world but also in the muggle world, where Potterheads zealously participate in events and parties. Fanfiction is published on different websites, watch parties of the eight “Harry Potter” movies are hosted, sweet and savory “Harry Potter”-themed food items are made, and the next generation is introduced to the series by receiving their first copies of “Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone.”
The wizarding sport Quidditch is actually quite popular, and sporting events are hosted in some parts of the world. Food blogs post their renditions of various foods from the wizarding world, like Butterbeer and Pumpkin Pasties. The gaming community also shows their love by filming walk-throughs or speedruns of the “Harry Potter” video games. Potterheads also dress up as wizards and witches and some cosplay as their favorite characters from the series.
Harry Potter's Birthday By The Numbers
$15 billion – the estimated value of the “Harry Potter” brand.
6 – the number of years J.K. Rowling spent writing the first “Harry Potter” manuscript.
500 – the number of copies made during the first print run of “Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone.”
$40,000 – the value of a Bloomsbury first-edition copy of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.”
450 million – the number of “Harry Potter” books in print in the world.
73 – the number of foreign-language translations of “Harry Potter.”
19.6 hours – the total running time of all eight “Harry Potter” movies.
160 – the number of prop eyeglasses worn by Daniel Radcliffe throughout the eight movies.
60–70 – the number of prop wands used by Daniel Radcliffe throughout the eight films.
2000 – the number of times Harry’s scar was applied by makeup artists on Daniel Radcliffe.
How to Celebrate Harry Potter's Birthday
Sip a Butterbeer
Although you can buy J.K. Rowling-approved Butterbeer at Universal Parks and Resorts, the official recipe is a closely-guarded secret. (It’s even said that if you transport your Butterbeer mug off the park premises, the two-layer contents will disintegrate into a muddled mess, like a magic spell that prevents the analysis of the drink.) However, for at least an approximate version, you can find recipes online, varying from simple (rather like a root beer float) to the more complex (mixing your own sodas). Starbucks fan? Ask the barista (nicely) to put together this recipe: start with a Creme Frappuccino base, made with whole milk. Add three pumps of caramel syrup, three pumps of toffee nut syrup and top with caramel drizzle.
Show off your house colors
Whether you identify with Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin, you can display your house pride by painting your face (or, for more elegant ladies, applying house-colored makeup creatively). Or, wear your house spirit by dressing in the appropriate colors, from your socks to a necktie or handbag. Crafty type? Try knitting a color-blocked scarf, Mrs. Weasley-style.
At the risk of stating the obvious...
... binge-watch all eight Harry Potter movies. Relive the magic of The Boy Who Lived.
Take the Harry Potter’s Birthday Quiz
5 Insights Into Harry Potter's Character
The original idea
According to author J.K. Rowling, the idea for the Harry Potter character, including details like his hair color and spectacles, came to her as she waited for a delayed train in Manchester, England, in 1990.
A poignant inspiration
This was the same year Rowling's own mother died, which led to Harry Potter being an orphan and also to his very real longing for his parents.
Why Hogwarts couldn't be a day school
When envisioning the school of wizardry to which she'd send Harry Potter, Rowling explained in an interview that Hogwarts had to be a boarding school because "half the important stuff happens at night!"
The one thing Harry only had at Hogwarts
Rowling also believed that as a boarding school, Hogwarts offered Harry a sense of security that he didn't find anywhere else — least of all with the awful Dursley family, who reluctantly took him in as an infant after his parents were killed.
A shared birthday
Harry Potter's July 31 birthday is the same as that of J.K Rowling herself.
Why We Love Harry Potter
We have grown up with Harry
Many of us were also growing up sometime between Harry’s admission to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and his final battle against Voldemort. Harry Potter is not just a character, he is our friend, and during the same time he navigated through his trials and teenage angst, so did a lot of us.
We all have gotten lost in the wonderful, magical world of “Harry Potter.” The entire universe is incredible and, to this day, we are in awe of just how well J.K Rowling executed the story, tying up all the loose ends.
Words to live by
The Harry Potter series has taught us a lot. From the true meaning of friendship and believing in ourselves to words of wisdom given by Dumbledore and Sirius Black, Harry Potter has had a powerful and lasting impact on us.
Harry Potter's Birthday dates