[JAB] But Why Today?

It’s Beedle the Bard Day around the world. The volume of wizarding fairy tales that J K Rowling hand wrote for a few select friends and one lucky auction patron has now been repurposed into a specialty book and is launched into the market today to support one of Joanne’s favorite charities, The Children’s High Level Group. This is all wonderful, but one question keeps nagging at me–But why today?

What special significance does December 4th, 2008 have that it should be chosen as a date preferable to all other launch dates? Why should the Harry Potter Marketing Machine so noted for judiciously selecting dates that further augment the series’ legendary commercial drawing power choose today?

Today is, after all, a day in the middle of the week. A day when good children are in school. A day when Mommy and Daddy (and their credit cards) are at work.

Here state-side, today is a day when the great feeding frenzies known as “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” have both come and gone, and the “last days before” rushes have not yet started? Why today?

Is there an, as yet unseen by me, tie in to a date from the canon? Or is there another reason? Why now? Why today?

Is the answer in the nature of the book? A group of fairy tales by someone named Beedle who was a bard? Is there something in today that relates to that?

Or is it something in the nature of the charity? Joanne describes The Children’s High Level Group as a charity whose purpose is:

“Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children in Eastern Europe are living in appalling conditions in large, residential institutions. Contrary to popular belief, fewer than 4% of them are orphans, but are in care because they are considered disabled or their families are poor or from ethnic minorities. The charity is publishing The Tales of Beedle the Bard to raise money to fund our work in helping these children out of institutions and in to loving families or community care homes.
“I hope that The Tales of Beedle the Bard will not only be a welcome present to Harry Potter fans, but an opportunity to give these abandoned children a voice. It will encourage young people across the world to think about those who are less fortunate and help change many young lives for the better.”
Quote courtesy of Accio Quote!

Is there something in there that relates to today? Children, needing loving supportive environments to live in while they grow into the best persons they can be? Does that relate to today somehow?

I have a pet theory that I will be posting later in the day, but as you fellow HogPros dig into the feast of answering the 12 meaty questions John leaves you below, you might spend a few moments while you are digesting other things to ponder my question…call it dessert!

What say you? Why today?


  1. JAB, I honestly have no idea why today. It might be nice to posit some specific reason for the release being on Dec 4th. But I’m sure there’s some entirely mundane reason.

    If they’d waited till the 6th, that would at least be St. Nicholas’ Day. So, no clue from me. Look forward to hearing your theory, though.

  2. The only thing I can think of, and I think it’s a long shot, is that it’s just in time for the funds to materialise for St. Nicholas Day, which is Saturday. In many Central and Eastern European countries, kids wake up to find little treats for them. We are celebrating with Miklauz (mi-klowsh) that day in our Slovene traditions. 🙂

    I think this is probably far-fetched, and it’s more likely to be for the Christmas present market, but whatever. My little sister was in a Russian orphanage, and I was glad to support other kids like her and get some Potter lore to boot.


  3. Arabella Figg says

    Well, just for Arithmancy fun…

    The date is 12-04-2008. All numbers are divisible by 4. Four is a significant number in HP. There are 4 Founders and 4 Houses at Hogwarts, 4 “gates” (Fluffy, keys, potions, chess) to the philospher’s stone in the Mirror of Erised. Jo mentions the 4% of children. December is in the 4th quarter (ooh, double) of the year.

    Also, 2 x 4 = 8. This is the 8th fictional book in the series.

    (But, also, it’s right before Christmas and people will buy it for gifts.)

    Kitties have 4 toes (with one dewclaw) on each foot…

  4. [JAB] My theory is this:

    A. I presume that the day/date must have some significance simply because that is the way JK Rowling’s mind has worked in the past.

    B. If so, she has not announced the significance anywhere that I have seen, and it therefore may be one of her “left as an exercise for the reader” items.

    My methodology then became what it always is for we computer types, when in doubt, ask Google.

    The problem with researching anything related to the Potterverse on Google however, is that so much information about Harry and Friends is stored and referenced on the Internet that it masks anything that might serve as a clue to underlying sources. So I had to resort to “fooling Mother Google”.

    I selected what I thought were the key topics that might apply and came up with five words: Beedle, Bard, Thursday, child and charity. The problem with that was that anything with the words Beedle and Bard came up with page upon page upon page of articles about the book, and nothing of any significance about the date. So I used a technique I have used before when looking through the haze about things Rowling related–I adjusted the spelling of some words and used words closely related to the meaning of others.

    In fact (after a dozen or so fruitless attempts) I came up with the following list: beadle, sing, child, Thursday, and charity. Lo and behold, a goldmine on the first page, the very top entry in fact: SparkNotes: Songs of Innocence and Experience: “Holy Thursday “ This link leads to a discussion of a delightful poem by William Blake which I cite here for you (be sure to follow the link to get all of the accompanying commentary):

    “Holy Thursday”

    ‘Twas on a Holy Thursday their innocent faces clean The children walking two & two in red & blue & green Grey headed beadles walk’d before with wands as white as snow Till into the high dome of Pauls they like Thames waters flow O what a multitude they seem’d these flowers of London town Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own The hum of multitudes was there but multitudes of lambs Thousands of little boys & girls raising their innocent hands Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of heaven among Beneath them sit the aged men wise guardians of the poor Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.’

    The poem describes the procession of Beadles (Almoners of the Church of England) leading the students of the various Charity Schools (wards of the Church) down to St. Paul’s Cathedral for Ascension Day services. The vivid imagery is quite applicable to the goals of Joanne’s chosen (co-founded) charity.

    However the date is not December 4th. Ascension Day, which only happens on a Thursday (hence “Holy Thursday”) occurs on the 40th day after Easter Sunday, a date either long past or far in the future for purposes of answering our question.

    So what might relate the concept of “Protective figure accompanying Child into Sanctuary”. We Baptist’s and other Protestants are at a loss here, however Catholic and Orthodox believer’s might suggest the day honoring “The Presentation of Mary in the Temple” (Roman Catholic terminology) or “The Entry of the Theotokos” (Eastern Orthodox terminology), but again that presents a problem as this is not a Movable Feast, but occurs every year on the 21 of November. Which all we good folks know happened on a Friday this year, almost two weeks in the past.

    So why today? The answer is supplied by our own Head HogPro, John Granger in a post left on Travis Prinzi’s blog yesterday. Inside the walls of John’s Church, today is not Thursday, December 4, 2008–rather it is Thursday, November 21st, 2008–a very Holy Thursday indeed!

    In fact that is the reason John had to ask me to anchor this blog today, he was fully occupied at his church. Engaged in celebrations more closely related to the purposes that Joanne Rowling envisions for The Tales of Beedle the Bard than even he realized. Celebrating the fact that small children, if lead into a superior, nurturing environment have near limitless potential and how, to borrow from Blake, if it be in your power to help provide this nurturing environment you should “cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.”

    So that’s my theory on why today…rebuttals gleefully anticipated.

  5. JAB,

    It’s as good an explanation as any. While we Lutherans celebrate many of the Feasts of St. Mary, the Entrance into the Temple isn’t one of them, so I can’t hazard a guess as to its relevance. Do the Anglicans celebrate it, since JKR is a member of the Episcopal Church of Scotland?

  6. Rebuttal: J.K. Rowling is a Western Christian, on the Western calendar. 😉

  7. JohnABaptist says

    Returning to my normal persona since it appears John is back.

    revgeorge: While I am far from an expert, I believe that only Anglican’s who subscribe to the Society of Mary (Anglican) actually celebrate the “Presentation of Mary” on November 21. The balance of the denomination does not appear to do so. However, the same list of Anglican Devotional Societies that contains the Society of Mary, also contains Society of King Charles the Martyr.

    As we know, Charley is one of the English Kings that J. K. Rowling inserts into her Weasley clan. So it may be that J. K. does harbor some High Church tendencies. In fact I seem to remember others commenting on such tendencies on her part.

    Proof of anything? Of course not–but short of authorial revelations, probably as close as we can get.

    Travis: Touche’ Ah, but stay! J. K. tends to adopt the manners, mores and paraphernalia of several elsewhens in her works quite consistently. Witness the progressive regression to steam power on Platform 9-3/4, then to gas-lights in Hogsmeade, and finally to reed torches in Hogwarts Proper. In that light one can never be totally sure whose calendar she may be on. England, after all, did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752 which is later than most of the elsewhens that she habitually uses. So possibly, un-touche’

    To all: I’m not sure I buy my own arguments here. I just wanted to present them to draw focus to the fact that while we HogPros may be fascinated by the text, sub-text and possible inferences to be drawn from this book, there are many other, grander and more praise-worthy aspects to this event.

    I didn’t want us to forget that the money we spent here, primarily out of idle curiosity, will in fact be directed to far from idle uses and we should perhaps spend some time dwelling on that fact today.

    Thanks for letting me have a shot at the helm again, John.

  8. esoterica1693 says

    I do not think this is why she chose today (I vote for some timing set by the publisher for totally secular reasons) but just a note…if you’re looking at liturgical calendars…. In the Anglican world today is the feast of Nicholas Ferrar, of Little Gidding, d. 4 Dec 1637. Friend of George Herbert, and the one responsible for publishing his work The Temple.


  9. Could Dec. 4th be significant to the chronology of events in Deathly Hallows? I haven’t thought about this beyond the question, but could Dec. 4th be the day that Harry heard the tale of the three brothers for the first time? Or something similar?

  10. December 4 has quite a lot of associations: see


    Personally, I think Saint Barbara’s Day has a lot of appeal…

    A female saint associated with thunder and lightning and gunpowder and explosions … memorialized by Irish, British, Australian, Canadian, Greek, and American armed forces (even the Marines!).

    See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Barbara

    I have not yet received my copy of BtB so I should have better guesses after I read it. Still, it would be hard to beat St Barbara for breadth of coverage……….

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