Previously we talked about how often prime numbers feature in the Harry Potter books. Another number that crops up a lot is the number 12.
12 Grimmauld Place might be the first one that springs to mind, but we also have 12 uses of dragon’s blood; Dumbledore’s unusual watch with 12 hands; the 12 Christmas trees that decorate the Great Hall every Christmas; there are 12 governors of Hogwarts; Sirius Black spent 12 years in Azkaban; and there were 12 doors leading into the Department of Mysteries, to give just a few examples.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that the number 12 comes up so much, since it is considered to be a symbol of perfection and completion. Think how ingrained it is in our everyday lives. Our entire system of time is based on the number 12. 24 hours in a day, divided into two halves of 12 hours each, and 12 months in a year. The basic units of time – 60 seconds, 60 minutes – can be perfectly divided by 12. Because of our calendar, we also have 12 signs of the zodiac, but the Chinese zodiac, which is organised differently, also has 12 symbols.
12 has been a significant number in every major religion, and crops up frequently in ancient mythology too. Think about the 12 Labours of Hercules, or the 12 days of Christmas.
12 is the product of four multiplied by three. Four is the number of elements and of cardinal points. Three is the sacred number of god, the holy trinity. Multiplied, you have 12, the perfect number. The flag of the European Union contains 12 stars on a blue background. The number of stars has nothing to do with the number of countries; it was selected as being symbolic of perfection and completion.
So, when Mr Crouch’s grandfather was buying his Axminster flying carpet that seated 12, do you think he realised the significance?
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In the Harry Potter Lexicon Minute podcast you’ll hear the voices of our editors sharing some of the many little things which delight us about the Wizarding World. In each podcast, one to two minutes in length, we’ll talk about anything from cool trivia and interesting canon passages to the latest Wizarding World news. We hope you’ll join us! And we’d love to hear from you as well. Feel free to use the comment section on the blogpost for each podcast to post your thoughts.
Special thanks go to Felicia Cano who gave us permission to use her amazing artwork of Hermione reading a book for the logo. Thanks also to Magic Alley for sponsoring the podcast!