CS8: Ghosts

In Chapter 8 of Chamber of Secrets, titled “The Deathday Party,” we get an up close look at the ghost of Gryffindor Tower, Sir Nicholas de Mimsey Porpington, aka Nearly Headless Nick.

When Harry comes across him in the halls after Quidditch practice, Nick is reading a transparent letter. Does this mean there is ghost paper? Later at his Deathday Party, there are ghostly instruments, ghost horses, the only thing that seems there is no ghostly form of is food. In a previous minute I discussed the questions I had about the world of the painted portraits in Hogwarts, I have similar questions here. The biggest question I have is, if there are ghostly items, like paper and instruments, is there a ghost ax that Nick could find to solve his problem of being nearly headless?

What I’d really like to discuss in this Minute about CS8 is the Deathday Party itself.

First off, how fair was it of Nick to ask Harry, Ron, and Hermione to attend his party? He didn’t make any accommodations for them, or prepare them in advance. Like telling them there wouldn’t be any edible food, or that it would be ‘deathly’ cold. They could have had a snack beforehand and come with some winter cloaks on. Nick was only thinking about himself when he invited Harry, he wasn’t being a very good host to living guests.

Next I wanted to talk about the Deathday Party and what it might symbolize. The following are thoughts I had when dwelling on the idea of this ghostly tradition:
Deathday parties are the opposite of birthday parties. Birthdays are celebrating life and hopefulness for the next year. Deathdays are ‘celebrating’ the end of one’s life, additionally the decision to not move on to the afterlife, but to live in an in-between world, neither here nor there. There is no joy in this occasion, which I think is made clear because the music is awful, the food rotten, and the atmosphere cold and unwelcoming. It’s all the things you can look forward to if you decide not to move on when your life is over.

I don’t think Harry, Ron, or Hermione were ever likely to decide to become ghosts, but perhaps their unique experience of this Deathday Party did help them find definite peace about what their decision would be when it came time for them to move on.



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, just a couple of 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.

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Music: "Winter Chimes" Kevin MacLeod (
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