Harry Potter is making a comeback. From the 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts on HBO Max to Fantastic Beasts, we are getting more of the Wizarding World. But when did the love for Harry Potter really start? For me at age 8-9 is when my emergence into the wizarding world began. It is when the first two books were making a splash. I remember immediately loving this magical world-shaping right in front of us all. But, just like Star Wars, Star Trek, or any other fandom, is it the nostalgia that keeps us coming back or something more?
Speaking for myself, the nostalgia, as well as the story itself, draws me in. This child who is living with abusive relatives finds out he is the most famous wizard around. Through mayhem and many adventures, he finds friendship and love. Also, we’ve got unicorns, centaurs, dragons, hippogriffs, and a three-headed dog. Come on, what s there not to love? Each book is a new adventure.
Harry Potter as an Adult
Though that’s all great to draw in children, what is it about Harry Potter that draws me in today? Apart from the nostalgia aspect, it is the ability to keep finding more depth in the story. When I read it at a young age, it was Hermione’s character I found myself identifying with. Now that I am older, I identify with Molly or Lilly, the motherly aspect of the stories.
Now I also understand that this is not just a story of good vs evil. There is so much more to it. Like finding life-long friendships, finding your strength, and seeing who you really are. There is death and suffering and sacrifices that must be made, all things that as a child you cannot appreciate as you would as an adult. For example, Lilly’s love for Harry? The magnitude of that sacrifice did not sink in for me until I read Harry Potter as an adult.
For most of us who grew up with Harry Potter, nostalgia is a big part as well. That feeling of being a child again, or feeling at home when you watch your favorite Harry Potter movie or read your favorite book. That feeling of when you read these for the first time. Reliving the magic takes you back to simpler times. Times when bills are not due or work is dragging you down. Harry Potter is the magical escapism that we remember growing up with.
Always A Potterhead
So what does Harry Potter mean to me 20 years later? Harry Potter to me is like coming home. It’s like running away to my safe space where I can collect myself and remember what I am capable of. To me, it is finding somewhere I belong. As the awkward, youngest of the family, hard-to-fit-in girl, Harry Potter gives me somewhere I feel like I belong. Not just the book series but the fandom itself. The book shows us a group of outcast misfits that find friendship in each other, which gives us real-world misfits hope. A hope that stays alive even as we grow older. So, that is what Harry Potter is to me. A sliver of my childhood and a reminder that even when I feel like the world is too much, I have somewhere to go to.
Finally, I also think the world sees these characters as some they can relate to, and that is why the franchise keeps growing. Everyone wants to find out their Hogwarts house because it gives them somewhere to belong. Much like astrological signs, our Hogwarts house also gives us an excuse for why we act. (Oh, I’m sorry for being too friendly, I’m a Hufflepuff!)
But overall, there is a character for everyone. We have Luna, the weird eccentric smart girl who turns out to be the most loyal friend you will find. Or, maybe you are more like Lupin, a werewolf who is ostracized because of who he is. And you think you deserve it even when you do not. Each person has someone in Harry Potter they feel like, and that is the true magic of it all.