Podcast Question of the Week – Episode 157

Nice watch, Harry. What did you get, Hermione?

We see in this chapter that Harry receives a watch for his 17th birthday. As Mrs. Weasley explains, this is a traditional gift for wizards who reach adulthood. But what about witches? As we discussed, is there a difference in the gifts that is indicative of wizards being patriarchal, or suggests that they adapted this from (potentially outdated) Muggle customs? Or do witches receive a gift that is just as practical as it is ornamental? When a witch comes of age, just what is the gift that she is given?

Let us know what you think in the comments below or by sending us an Audioboom!

  • Huffleclaw

    Perhaps witches receive a clock for their (future) homes, or a family recipe book.

  • SlytherinKnight

    You know, Hermione’s birthday is never celebrated throughout the series. It’s only Harry or Ron’s, heck even Ginny’s birthday is mentioned in book six but not Hermione’s. And Hermione’s birthday is only like two weeks into the school year.

    As for what to get Hermione for her birthday, I would of course get her a book but maybe a book of the wizarding world’s customs and traditions so that she would be more informed about the world she has entered. In fact, that would be a great book to give any muggle-born or muggle raised so that they aren’t just thrown off the deep end to sink or swim when entering the wizarding world.

    • Dumbledoresgirlthruandthru

      Its true that Hermione’s birthday is never celebrated but it is mentioned in the beginning of the POA. Hermione tells Harry and Ron that her parents gave her some extra money for her birthday and she ends up using it to buy Crookshanks. Ron’s birthday is only ever mentioned in HBP but i JKR might have just put it in to lead to him getting poisoned. I really wish we could have seen Hermione’s 17th birthday but her parents are muggles so they were probably going to stick with the muggle tradition of the 18th birthday being a bigger deal.

      • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

        I hope that by the time Hermione turns 19 she can celebrate with her parents again, because when she turned 18 they didn’t remember she existed. 🙁

        • Dumbledoresgirlthruandthru

          That’s so sad. I didn’t even realize. I have always felt bad for the Grangers because I think they had a really great relationship with Hermione but wanted her to do well at Hogwarts and in the magical world so they had to let her go so early. I hope that after they got their memories back that they were more directly involved in Hermione’s life. I can see them sitting at the Weasley’s table with the entire Weasley clan and the Potters maybe with the grandkids running around. This would be so perfect!!!

  • HarleyMeenen

    See, when I read the books I always assumed that both witches and wizards got watches. For whatever reason it just never occurred to me that there would be a difference between the genders (and in fact I asked for a watch for my 17th birthday because I needed one and I never got over not getting my Hogwarts letter.) Maybe I’m alone, but I’m going to continue believing that a witch receives a watch as well. Every adult needs a nice watch.

    • Olivia Underwood

      Totally agree, could be a symbol of time itself and how, whatever your age, it will eventually catch up with you. Although these days I’m guessing it’s an apple watch (I’m sorry, couldn’t resist!)

      • DoraNympha

        They get Apple headphones! 😀

        • Olivia Underwood

          Lol yes exactly!

    • my kids are filthy muggles

      I agree. I always thought it was a wizarding world thing rather than a gender thing and assumed that witches got really nice watches too. I mean there are really pretty watches for women out there why can’t witches get their own too. Can’t think of a muggle equivalent though, but I don’t think that gender would make any difference in this case.

      Now that I think about it, it seems to me that wizards tend to discriminate mostly against blood status and magical ability. Don’t really see any evidence of gender discrimination. I mean even their sport is mixed gender which you don’t really see in most muggle sports which is probably why it never occurred to me that only wizards got watches and witches had to get something else if anything.

    • ChocolateFrogRavenclaw

      Yea – i thought the same thing. I think the reason that I didn’t notice this before (and maybe the reason Molly uses the term wizards) is that she has only had sons turn 17 at this point, so for her, giving watches has only been to wizards.

  • DoraNympha

    Witches might get watches too, at least I never questioned it before. I think Ron and Percy were sure to get brand new ones but apparently Fred and George didn’t get Fabian and Gideon’s ones, for whatever reason. Wonder who got Gideon’s, maybe Bill or Charlie or even Ginny. I mean, technically, Ginny would have been eligible to get Fred’s since she came of age the summer after the battle but A) too soon and B) it was probably preserved for little Fred. And hey, let’s intensify those tears you’ve got there now: Harry probably made sure to give Teddy Remus’ one and maybe he went back to find Sirius’ at Grimmauld Place (if it was there) or James’ in Godric’s Hollow and gave them to his own kids.

    If girls don’t get watches, it’s probably jewellery, which already has kind of an etiquette in our Muggle world. I’d prefer something practical as well as fancy, so a watch or a pocket watch would have been better but if you look at the tiara that was handed down, albeit temporarily, between Muriel and Fleur, that could be an indication of such traditions. We don’t know for sure Muriel never had children of her own, right? Maybe when Ginny married she actually got the tiara for real, not just to borrow?

    And now I’m just thinking there should be a tongue-twister about witches getting watches… Which watch is a witch’s watch, with which witches will watch time wickedly pass? That good? 😀

    • TickleThePear

      Nice tongue-twister!
      I also thought witches would receive jewelry of some sort. The tiara is a great example.

    • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

      say that three times fast… 🙂
      While it’s tradition, I don’t think all wizards/witches we know got watches when they came of age. In ancient magical families that may be more common than in families with one magical parent or muggle parents. Some children may want other expensive items instead of a watch. A broom. An Owl. A house. Something from Borgin and Burke’s.

  • Time&RelativDimensionInHandbag

    I’ve also always assumed that witches get watches. Mrs. Weasley mentions wizards in particular, I think, because a she’s giving a) watch to a wizard, and b) she’s given watches to six other wizards, but to no witches yet. It seems just to be a general term to say that it’s traditional for a wizards to receive a watch. It’s perhaps more gendered, but also as generic, possibly, as saying, “it’s traditional for a graduate to receive luggage for graduation.”

  • SnapesManyButtons

    I think witches would get watches also. I bet all the sons got new watches because getting new things was such a treat in their family. But I also bet that Ginny got Gideon’s watch and when she and Harry got married, Fabian and Gideon’s watches were together again. She wouldn’t feel cheated out of a new watch because she’d have something that was not only important to her mother but was also a pair to the one Harry had. Sounds perfect to me.

    • DoraNympha

      Did you just made me tear up with watches of characters we never even see?

  • Awesome Hufflepuff

    I believe that witches get something more personal and more valuable, like family jewelry or something pertaining to the person who is giving the gift. Hermione might give her daughter her favorite book as it helped Hermione in her adulthood. I know that women typically get family jewelry because they would not lose it if there happens to be a divorce. If the jewelry was passed to the son, and he gave it to his wife, the wife could leave him and keep the jewelry. Plus the jewelry often have personal meaning. I personally wear my Nana’s ring everyday because it always reminded me of her. I would want to wear something that reminds me of my heritage and where I came from. I think this would related to Hermione as well. If Hermione got a “becoming an adult” present, her parents would have gotten her something that was very much from the muggle world. She would cherish the muggle item more because it’s from her family, whom she had to abandon and it would always remind her that she came from a muggle family. It would remind her to be strong and to keep fighting against the muggleborn prejudice.

    • Olivia Underwood

      speaking of weddings, what’s the difference between a wizard wedding and a muggle wedding? (could be a good q for the next chapters)

  • CentaurSeeker121

    I just always kind of assumed that witches got jewelry or some other kind of accessory (example: Muriel’s goblin-made tiara or Merope’s locket) as that also seems to hold some kind of ettiquette in the Muggle world like DoraNympha said.

    What I would like to know is this: If Harry got Fabian’s watch, who got Gideon’s? Also, Molly had the two brothers, and according to the Harry Potter Wiki, Arthur also has two unnamed brothers. Plus, it’s entirely possible that they both could have had the watches from both of their fathers as well which would have actually covered all six of the Weasley boys. For some reason I end up having a vision in my head of Arthur and Molly bringing them out as their sons came of age and allowing them to pick which one they wanted (it’s what my parents would have done anyways). So who ended up getting a brand new watch instead?

    • DoraNympha

      Arthur’s brothers: maybe they gave theirs to their own kids and they were still probably alive during the story. It’s a bit odd we never hear of them, though, like are they in danger, being no.1 blood-traitor Muggle-lover Arthur Weasley’s brothers? (We don’t know for sure that Uncle Bilius was Arthur’s or Molly’s brother but probably Arthur’s since we do know Molly’s lost her twin brothers.)

      I think the Weasley children all got new watches, except in the event someone got Gideon’s watch, unless he was even more careless with his possessions and there’s no watch left to give so it’s only Fabian’s one that can be given to anyone and that was Harry. (Which would also explain why Fred and George didn’t get Fabian and Gideon’s watches if one had been lost.)

      Bill, Charlie or Ginny would be candidates for inheriting Gideon’s watch, since they don’t strike me as demanding of a new one but Ron and probably Percy had to get new ones.

      Fred and George, well, we just don’t know, they might have got new ones just based on the simple fact that they were the 4th and 5th kids and there are only so many watches that can circulate in a family. You’d think Molly would have reserved Fabian’s and Gideon’s watches for them but apparently not. Maybe she was satisfied with naming them after her late brothers but didn’t want to bequest the same fate on her own kids by the watches too, you know? It would’ve been too much, as if she really saw her brothers in her twin sons, that wouldn’t have been all that healthy. By that time, she’d probably coped with her brothers’ death too. They turned 17 in April during Goblet of Fire, though, when there was no threat of Voldemort yet that Molly would have known about (unless she wanted to give them the watches in person, which would have been on the day of the third task the soonest but maybe only in the summer).

      Okay this is far too much analysing now, maybe they just thought the one thing everyone should get brand new was the sweet 17 watches and there’s nothing deeper behind it. Maybe Molly does have both her brothers’ watches and kept Gideon’s because she’s still attached to it, which only shows her immense love for Harry that she’d give him something as important for her as Fabian’s watch (besides the fact that Harry appreciates a family heirloom more than new stuff).

      (This was one of the wildest forms of over-analysis I’ve ever done and I’ve got like a thousand more things to say but let’s not. :D)

      • CentaurSeeker121

        I like your analysis! It was extremely well thought out. I forgot that there were supposed to be so many Weasley cousins. SOMEONE else had kids, LOL.

        You’re right, there’s no mention in the books there’s no mention of them being twins… the only thing we get is in the movie….I think. They had the Phelps twins dress up as Gideon and Fabion so they were in the photograph if I remember right.

        • DoraNympha

          Thanks and yes I found that too… but if you look at the photo it doesn’t really seem like them… but who knows? 😀 I’ll probably keep assuming Fab and Gid were twins but I’ll accept defeat if Jo tweets something or puts something on Pottermore… (“but is it canon?” 😉 )

  • DisKid

    I don’t think it was confirmed what kind of a watch this was. Wrist watches, as much as it’s seen as masculine now, were actually invented for women. Men were accustomed to pocket watches when those were invented and, up until the 1930s (only around 60 years before these events), men would have been considered feminine to be wearing them. Perhaps the wizards get pocket watches and the witches get wrist watches if this really is an old tradition. If this is a wrist watch though, I dare say it was not always traditional for the men to get those kind of watches as they would have been feminine until the 1930s. Then, if watches are truly only given to wizards, it’s kind of ironic for them to be given wrist watches as those were not invented for men. I can see a feminist witch making a whole case for that at some point.

  • A necklace, just as Draco tried to give Katie Bell when she came of age.

    • VoiceofDobby

      Only less deadly. Hopefully.

  • SnugglesWithNifflers

    I know that Hermione makes hers herself, but I think it would be neat if witches got beaded bags similar to the one that came in so handy during their journey. A lot of women (especially in the 1950s) carry purses, and often women are known for having everything but the kitchen sink in their bags. I think this gift would be practical in a similar way to watches. It would come in handy in all stages of life, from school to going out to wizard bars to parenthood. I certainly would have loved to get a bottomless bag for my seventeenth!

    • Yo Rufus On Fire

      I like that idea! I think that would be awesome! However, the Undetectable Extension Charm is illegal for personal use. 🙁 If it wasn’t illegal. I would totally want one!

      • SnugglesWithNifflers

        Darn, I’d totally forgotten about that! I think that would be totally worth breaking the law for 🙂

        • Yo Rufus On Fire

          I agree!!

  • Dumbledoresgirlthruandthru

    The first thing that comes to my mind is a locket. I always thought that Marvolo gave Merope Slytherin Locket when she came of age.

    I think that the equally significant gift for Witches would be a ‘Hope Chest’ upon their marriage. The Hope chest would contain all of their mother’s (and/ or Father’s) position recipes, food recipes, books, spells, and special items that would be passed on from mother to daughter. Ginny’s hope chest would be a treasure trove of recipes and house hold spells that Mrs. Weasley used and probably a bunch of knitting patterns so Ginny could continue the Weasley Sweater tradition.

  • ChocolateFrogRavenclaw

    For as medieval as the wizarding world is, it is not as patriarchal as we may think. Witches tend to hold high positions and the type of sexism that we may expect to present in a society that still uses chamber pots isn’t always present (that doesn’t mean that there aren’t levels of sexism or sexist traditions – just overall). Because of this, I think that witches do get watches (or some other type of family Heriloom depending). While Mrs. Weasley does stress the point that “wizards get watches” she doesn’t say that witches don’t. I think this is because the only watches she has given have been to wizards – only her sons have come of age at this point.
    I think Harry got Fabian’s watch because Gideon’s no longer exists. I think that had they both been intact, Fred and George (or Bill and Charlie) would have gotten them. Either Gideon’s was destroyed in the fight or he took it with him to the grave.

  • VoiceofDobby

    I never saw the watch as a gendered gift. I always assumed it was the same for witches and wizards, and wizards is used in the book the same way we use he or man as a general term. I also have typically seen the wizarding world as more egalitarian in many ways. First, wizarding history has its fair share of women, info given to us by (the late) pottermore timeline. The series is also set at the tail end of 2nd wave feminism, except gender is never really a theme. We see a rather even display of witches and wizards in government high ranking teachers and other areas. There are many instances of prejudice and discrimination in the series but almost never for gender.
    I do think that a witch would get a much more feminine watch than their male counterparts.

  • suprememugwump

    I’m playing devil’s advocate here, because I think it’s plausible that Mrs. Weasley used “wizards” like a lot of people use “man.” She meant wizarding society in general. But… what if witches just don’t get anything? Historically, a man would need tools to survive. Of course, a wand negates the need for most tools, but a watch is kind of an ornate mechanical thing, of which we don’t see many in the wizarding world. A watch conveys status. A witch marrying into a family would get her status from her husband. Plus, or so the reasoning would go, if she was taking care of babies, what use would she have for a watch anyway? I think it’s likely that people of Mrs. Weasley’s generation have started giving watches to all their children (she never mentions her own watch or what she might have received when she came of age), but historically, I’d guess that witches got nothing.

    • DoraNympha

      Except because they’re all focused on magic and gender doesn’t affect magic, witches wouldn’t be seen as less capable in wizarding society. There have been as many great respected powerful witches as wizards throughout history, just look at the Hogwarts founders for one thing. No one thinks Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff were somehow less capable than Gryffindor and Slytherin, they’re not any less respected. Bathilda is known for being the top wizarding historian of the century. No one dares cross McGonagall and she has status of her own, or Umbridge, and the only thing anyone can question about Hermione is her blood-status but no one doubts her magic would be any less awesome just because she’s a girl. In fact, Harry and Ron acknowledges she’s better many times, so all the survival magic usually falls on her. We don’t see women, present or past, sacrifice their own careers or aspirations just for the sake of focusing on family and household spells (poor Luna’s mum for instance), except Molly, but I don’t get the imprssion in was a sacrifice on her part, maybe she wanted this life for herself more than anything else. It’s not like there’s zero sexism (even Rita Skeeter’s interview in DH is full of the old thanks-for-inviting-me-to-your-home girly-chat thing, despite her being totally intimidating and powerful) but it wouldn’t be ritually ingrained in society like this, I think.

  • NeverTickleASleepingRavenclaw

    If we go by the notion that this is a gendered gift and we’re focusing on how the magical community stopped developing around the 1950’s, then I would say that the female gift is something to do with family, or being a mother.

    With that being said, I love to imagine that the “family clock” that Molly has was given to her when she turned 17. Perhaps at the time it only had one hand (her) or just her and Arthur (since we do know they were dating at Hogwarts) and with the birth of each new Weasley, a hand magically added itself to the clock.
    I know this is unlikely, because Mrs. Weasley’s clock seems to be so unique, as Dumbledore says, but then again, Molly Weasley herself is pretty unique–how many moms do we actually see raising their magical children in these books? Certainly not Lily (oops) or Petunia; not Mrs. Longbottom; not Tonks…maybe Molly’s clock is only unique because she is.

    Also, Molly graduated from Hogwarts in the 60’s, so maybe it was common to give a clock such as hers back then, and has since fallen out of style, which makes hers unique.

    • DoraNympha

      Oh I like this but Molly says it’s probably a unique object, I think in HBP when she carries it around with her all the time.

  • I also side on the ungendered lines and think witches get watches as well. But thinking about the possibility of jewelry as a coming of age gift, I thought about the muggle tradition of giving a young woman grandmother’s pearls. May be a good parallel..

  • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

    What is the traditional gift for witches when they come of age?

    It has been tradition to give a young witch a set of potions, lotions and brews that are useful in the household. If you are responsible for your own place, it’s handy to have everything ready for keeping a house or a flat nice, clean and in good order. There are also healing potions in there, pepper-up potion of course and other remedies for illnesses that occur more often than others. Pain-killers, mood-brighteners, Skele-Gro, mild sleeping potions, magical drops that can keep you going even if you’re exhausted… anything a person might need if she has to care for herself and others. More progessive parents and godmothers give a young witch another set of teas and oils to promote good reproductive health, both for conception and birth-control.

    There are many vials in that set, it’s labelled thoroughly and there’s a huge volume of explainations and side-effects included.

    If a witch continues to live with her parents after coming of age – and many young women still attend school at this age – she may not need all of those potions right
    away. But she has time to become familiar with them and know what is needed, what should be restocked soon, can make arrangements to add more vials to her collection.

    This gift has been traditional for a long time. That’s why muggles have the prejudice that witches own a vast collection of remedies and poisons. It’s true, they have loads
    of things that muggle doctors don’t have, sometimes they did help non-magical folk with their powers and their knowledge and their potions. Because what’s a human to do if your neighbour’s child is sick and needs medicine? Some of the most generous and kind witches were accused of being involved with the devil or with dark magic, and many muggle women were killed because they were unable to free themselves like witches could when they were bound, locked up and tortured.

    Today a young witch learns the history of the persecution, and when she comes of age, she joins the circle of women who are able to make use of their powers – for good or for evil.

    You may say that it is also useful for young wizards to have such a collection at hand. Parents who have given their sons these potion-sets recommend that young men to
    double-check bottles before swallowing anything: Drink responsibly!

    • Yo Rufus On Fire

      This is perfect. I love this idea!

  • SpinnersEnd

    My mother gave me a ring for my 21st birthday with my birthstone in it. I like the idea that witches are given something with made from the same wood their wand is, or another substance that embodies those same properties. For example, if a witch carries a wand made of Cedar, she might be given a piece of jewelry with a sapphire mounted on it. Sapphires are associated with loyalty and mental acuity and perception, just like cedar wands.

  • LuckyEaglet

    I like the idea that witches get something practical as well as sentimental to the family (mirroring a watch for wizards). Perhaps a book of family secrets. Secrets in this case could be whatever your family is known for or particularly good at casting/making. Household charms, defensive spells, potions, etc. could all be potentially in a book passed down to witches. Ginny would have to add her famous bat-bogey hex to her book of family secrets before she passes it down to her daughter Lily. =)

  • Jaye Dozier

    This scene always reminded me of the traditional gifts still found in our own culture, but are generally unknown or overlooked. For example, I didn’t know for the longest time that there are specific gifts you are “supposed” to get your spouse according to the years of your anniversary (for example, traditionally for your 1st anniversary you give something with paper, but today it has evolved to clocks. For the second anniversary, cotton – but today it has evolved to china. Here is a full list of the traditional and modern gifts, which are both interesting and random: http://ideas.hallmark.com/anniversary-ideas/anniversary-gifts-by-year/). As an adult, you become more aware of these traditions from older, more experienced people who pass them on. Another example that is perhaps more well known today is a bride wearing “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” I like to think that witches were given something equally great to celebrate their birthdays, like jewelry with a family crest or what not, but I can imagine they also have their own traditional gifts with weddings and births.

    I think we should keep in mind how symbolic it is that this gift is given in a family, and what that would mean to Harry. The fact that Molly knows this tradition suggests that her mother or father gave her a gift (and/or her brothers) and she felt how important it was to be celebrated. I believe Molly is passing onto Harry more than just a gift – she is officially connecting him to her family and celebrating a milestone in his life like she would her actual son. Also, just as a married couple or bride might not choose to follow tradition (or be aware of them in general), I wonder how popular these gifts are in the wizarding world in general. Perhaps Molly is even pulling from a relatively unpracticed tradition to make Harry feel important and special.

  • Eileen_Prince/Jones

    I’m re-reading sorcerors stone because i bought the illustrated version….anyways, just an interesting coincidence that the question is about wizards getting watches when they turn 17, and in ch 2 of sorcerors stone dudley gets a gold watch for his 11th bday. It prob wasn’t a significant gift since he had 38 other presents that year, but i thought it was a neat coincidence