It never happened, of course. Not as a formal holiday, that is. And in one sense, it’s hard to imagine that most American of holidays at that most British of schools. But certainly, we can dream.
I think Dumbledore, at any rate, would have welcomed an opportunity to have another feast between Halloween and Christmas. Partly, perhaps, because Dumbledore had seen his fair amount of sorrow, he welcomed any excuse for celebration. Most of the students would not have been terribly far behind in enthusiasm.
Imagine a collision between the Great Hall and a Norman Rockwell painting, and you get an idea of the holiday’s appearance at Hogwarts. I won’t attempt to wrangle a pseudo-description—J. K. Rowling and Headmaster Longbottom will have many better ideas than mine. But I do think having the food appear from cornucopias would be a nice touch. At least one year.
Admittedly, it’s a bit sobering to reflect on the contours Thanksgiving would take through the series. Rowling, with her usually adroit handling of mood and colouring, would likely bring the flavour of each time period in Harry’s life to the festivities.
It would become more difficult, as the years passed, to sit down to eat something that commemorates thankfulness. Hard to be thankful when confronting Umbridge at Hogwarts, the viciousness of certain students to Ron as a Keeper, the steady, ignored rise of the Dark Lord.
Yet the feast would be there, all the same.
All speculation, of course. In some ways, Thanksgiving seems more in tune with Redwall—the other series I devoured the same summer I discovered Harry Potter.
Redwall wouldn’t need to collide with Norman Rockwell to make a good thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving would go down well at Redwall Abbey. Any excuse for celebration will do at the Abbey, simply because life there is celebration. Even despite threat of war, death, suffering. In many ways, perhaps not coincidental, life at Redwall embodies the Jewish proverb:
They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.
I think Thanksgiving at Redwall wouldn’t look that much different from most of their other feasts. Unless they follow the grant Thanksgiving tradition of eating a heck of a lot more than usual. In that case, a Redwall Thanksgiving might even keep a hare happy!
But any feast at Redwall is a thanksgiving. Thanks for joy of life, really, the richness of the world and the heartiness of food at any season. Thanks for a chance to enjoy fellowbeasts with us, and remember those who are distant, through parting or death.
There’s an undeniable hobbitish timbre to Redwall. And a Redwall Thanksgiving would certainly keep any hobbit happy! That sort of life, a hobbitish life, is what Redwall celebrates. Even though most Redwallers understand spookiness and grief as well as Harry himself.
I think I’d like to keep Thanksgiving at Redwall. A time for singing, for stories, for plenty of Hotroot Soup and October Ale. A reminder of the whole year, really. A celebration of life, of seasons, of hope.
Then back to classes at Hogwarts. Back to Umbridge and Voldemort, to OWLs and Malfoys. But then, at least, I’d be going back with a restfulness—and just fullness—to remind me that somewhere, everyday, the celebration of life continues.
Redwall is where safety and warmth surround you. Food, friends, music and song. Redwall will always welcome you back.