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 as we explore the inspiration behind Harry Potter, one of the world’s most beloved characters, and his magical world. 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?
Key Moments in Harry Potter's Life
The next generation heads to Hogwarts
The saga's final scene takes place 19 years after the beginning. Harry has married Ginny (Ron's younger sister), Ron and Hermione are also married, and they all meet at the train station to see their own young children off to their first year at Hogwarts.
1998 — 1999
Harry's showdown with Voldemort
Between 1992 and 1998, Harry’s adventures continued along with his magical education at Hogwarts. He also discovered more about his parents, deepened his friendship with Ron and Hermione, and developed his first love interest. During his last year at Hogwarts, he, Ron, and Hermione rallied all the students and staff for a final battle to defeat the Dark Lord, Voldemort. Ultimately, they were successful, while enduring heartbreaking losses. And unexpected heroes emerged at the most critical moments.
Harry went to Hogwarts
On Harry's 11th birthday, he learned to his amazement that he is a wizard, and went off to Hogwarts, leaving behind the neglectful and abusive Dursleys. Rubeus Hagrid, the Hogwarts representative sent to fetch Harry, also told him what happened to his parents. After arriving at Hogwarts and being sorted into the House of Gryffindor, he met and became best friends with Ron Weasley and Hermione Grainger.
Harry's parents were murdered
When Harry was just one year old, Voldemort attacked and killed his parents in their home. The Dark Lord also attempted to kill Harry, but was unsuccessful, managing to leave only a lightning-bolt-shaped scar on the baby's forehead. Harry was sent to live with the distantly-related Dursleys, who treated him as a servant.
July 31, 1980
Harry Potter was born
When Harry Potter was born to wizarding parents James and Lily, no one could have envisioned the chain of events set in motion on that day.
How to Celebrate Harry Potter's Birthday
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. At the risk of stating the obvious...
... binge-watch all eight Harry Potter movies. Relive the magic of The Boy Who Lived.
5 Insights Into Harry Potter's Character
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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!"
4. 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.
5. A shared birthday
Harry Potter's July 31 birthday is the same as that of J.K Rowling herself.