10 Unsolved Mysteries of the ‘Harry Potter’ Universe


Today marks the birthday of two very important characters in 21st-century popular culture: Harry Potter and his creator, J.K. Rowling. Whether you consider the Harry Potter series a classic for the ages, a guilty, mind-candy read, or an over-hyped amateur attempt at children’s literature, you can’t argue that the books fail to create a well-realized alternate reality. Rowling crafts a whole universe that is stunningly complex, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some quirks about the magical wizarding world that still don’t entirely make sense to us. We’ve gathered some of the most enduringly baffling Harry Potter mysteries after the jump.

How can wizards co-exist with Christianity?

Christmas transcends the magic/non-magic divide and is celebrated by wizards and Muggles alike. So we’re wondering how the concepts of God, miracles, and Jesus play into the world of magic. When you can turn water into wine, go back in time, and resurrect yourself as a ghost or a talking headmaster portrait, do Jesus and the saints’ miracles seem all that, well miraculous?

Why is Harry Potter so Eurocentric?

From Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we’ve gleaned that there are three major wizarding schools that compete in the Triwizard Tournament. Hogwarts is located in England, Beauxbatons is in France, and Durmstrang is located in some snowy, mountainous region of northern Europe. But what about those magically blessed among us who happen to live on the continent of Asia? Or Africa? Or North America? The tournament would have been a perfect time to introduce some non-European schools. To her credit, Rowling does hint that there may be other foreign schools. But this still leaves us wondering how connected each wizarding continent is to each other. Does Lord Voldemort, for instance, provoke as much fear in Saudi Arabia as he does in Diagon Alley?

Why does Harry still wear glasses?

If the magical world is able to heal broken bones in an instant, erase people’s memories, and create moving, talking portraits (admittedly, not too different from gifs), you would think Madam Pomfrey would have a handle on some type of laser eye surgery procedure. Bifocals seem pretty inconvenient when you’re flipping over, mid-air, on a broom to catch a flying snitch.

What do magical kids do before they’re 11?

You gain entrance into Hogwarts after your 11th birthday. So, how do children fill their days before then? We understand that witch and wizard parents may give their children a few magic lessons here and there, but without a wand it seems unlikely that these lessons would fill up a considerable chunk of the day. Could the Weasley clan possibly have gone to public school, just like Muggle kids?

How did Hagrid’s conception work?

It’s mentioned that Hagrid’s mother was a giant and his father was an ordinary wizard. Giants on average are 20 to 25 feet tall. And since the average human is about 20% of that size, how does interbreeding work out logistically?

What’s the deal with the Hufflepuff mascot?

The other houses’ mascots make sense. Lions represent bravery, snakes represent cunning, and eagles have a refined quality about them. But what exactly does a badger symbolize? Hufflepuffs are known for their patience, hard work, and loyalty. The short-legged weasel doesn’t quite convey that message. Poor Hufflepuffs — as if they didn’t have enough to deal with, being the “leftover house” and all, they have to deal with an ambiguous mascot, too.

Is Voldemort asexual?

We all know that our favorite sociopath is incapable of love. To Lord Voldemort, affection and relationships are just distractions from his quest for power. But was he ever attracted to anyone? We always had an inkling that he and Bellatrix might have had a little something going on. But many Potter aficionados claim that Voldemort is asexual.

Do Muggle parents worry about their magical children?

We’re curious to know how Muggle parents initially feel about sending their children off to some “magical” school for seven years when they’re only 11 years old. We’re sure that the wizarding world intervenes if there is any real resistance, but still, there has to be some tension between run-of-the-mill parents and the kids whose lives they’re suddenly barred from. For instance, before she placed that false memory charm on them in the final book, making them believe they were an Australia-obsessed couple named Wendell and Monica Wilkins, did Mr. and Mrs. Granger know how many times that their daughter Hermione had almost been killed in the last seven years?

What do wizards read for fun?

Do people read literature in Harry Potter? Fiction books are rarely mentioned in the series, and none of the characters seem to read novels. We understand that a majority of teenage students aren’t prone to pick up Chaucer just for the fun of it, but you would think a bookworm like Hermione would occasionally peruse Dickens, especially since other forms of entertainment, such as television and computers, aren’t common in the magical world.

Why is the magical realm so technologically backwards?

The Harry Potter series is set in the ’90s, but you would think it was set in the Pride and Prejudice era considering technologically behind the times Hogwarts is. Naturally, wizards don’t really need electricity since magic can usually outperform its Muggle counterpart. But wouldn’t calling someone on the telephone be quicker than sending an owl? And what’s with all the quills and parchment? Forget computers — wouldn’t a pen and paper make everyone’s life a bit easier and less messy, at the very least?