Ranking Harry Potter’s seven book birthdays, in celebration of his 36 years today

The Boy Who Lived turns 36 years today. Which means all three of his fictional children are born and we have exactly one year, one month and one day until the IRL day of the epilogue takes place (but who’s counting?).

It’s also the first day we’ve gotten a novel-length canon Harry Potter book in over nine years, you guys – the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is out today, meaning those who aren’t able to see the play anytime soon can get their Potter fix and the rest of us (ahem) will spend the next however many months attempting to avoid spoilers.

But today is about Harry. So here is a ranking, from worst to best, of his birthday celebrations (or lack thereof) during his time at Hogwarts.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Yes, Harry gets to spend his 17th birthday away from the confines of the Dursleys’ house and with his real family, aka the Weasleys. But it’s marred badly by the loss of loved ones: Hedwig and Mad-Eye Moody (and George’s ear). Dude can’t even relax for two seconds, since Rufus Scrimgeour crashes Harry’s party to execute Dumbledore’s extremely vague will. At least Harry and Ginny get to make out for a second before Ron busts in to ruin that too (as usual).


2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This chapter is literally called “The Worst Birthday.” We happen to disagree obviously since we am ranking it second worst, but it is pretty bad. From Dobby showing up with an armful of undelivered letters from Harry’s pals, to wreaking havoc and ensuring Harry is the one who has to deal with the consequences of the whole pudding incident, his 12th birthday definitely sucks until he gets to ride in that sweet flying Ford Anglia.


3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry’s actual 15th birthday isn’t touched on all that much in this book – probably because he was too busy being angsty and whiny over his friends not being able to write to him because of secrecy-related issues. But between battling Dementors and the Ministry in the aftermath of Voldemort’s return to power and Cedric’s death, it’s safe to say 1995 wasn’t Harry’s year.

4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

In HBP, Harry gets to celebrate his 16th birthday with the Weasleys, but again, that whole “People are dying” thing kind of puts a damper on all the festivities. Lupin shows up all depressed because he can’t handle the fact that Tonks loves him, and tells every Karkaroff’s been found dead. Which isn’t that huge a loss, but the discussion turns to the disappearances of Ollivander and Florean Fortescue and then everyone’s upset. At least there was cake.

5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The year Harry becomes a teenager is cool because he learns he has a godfather who is also a dog. He also gets some pretty sweet presents from Ron (a Sneakoscope) and Hermione (a fancy broom-care kit). Nothing else notable happens during this actual birthday, but hey, no one dies! Aunt Marge makes this time period suck in general, but at least he gets to ride the Knight Bus.

6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

This one is similar to PoA because we don’t hear a whole lot about Harry’s ACTUAL birthday, but he gets to go to the Quidditch World Cup over the summer and that’s good enough to put his 14th birthday high on this list. Sure, the Dark Mark shows up, but nothing crazy has gone down until the end of this book. Harry is still a kid for one more year, and it’s beautiful.


7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

It’s hard to argue that when you find out you’re leaving your abusive household, AND you’re a wizard, AND you go to a magical village to buy a ton of magical objects after learning you’ve inherited a huge fortune all in the same day that it’s not the best birthday of all time. Harry likely had a hard time topping this one over his next 25 years, gooey chocolate cake and all.


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