Okay, I just saw that the new Harry Potter book’s title has been announced, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but I’m a bit baffled: what’s a “hallow”?
First off, did you know that the first place in the world to learn the title was on J. K. Rowling’s official Web site? According to Scotsman.com, here’s what you had to do to figure out the book title:
“1. Click the rubber [eraser] on her desk. 2. Click the knob on the open door in the mirror to see the Christmas tree. 3. Click on the top half of the main door to see a wreath. 4. Click on the top of the mirror to reveal a garland. 5. Click the spider’s web next to the mirror. 6. Click on the fourth chime in the window, which is really the key for the door. 7. Drag the key to the door knob to unlock the door. 8. The door opens to reveal a package. When you click the bow, the package will open. 9. Inside is a game of Hangman you can play to find the title of book seven.”
My first stab at an answer for your original question about the meaning of title revolves around the holiday focused on this particular day of the year: Halloween. Halloween is actually “All Hallows Eve”, the night before All Hallows Day. Some sites suggest that “Hallows” simply means “Summer’s End”.
I’ve actually written about the origin of Halloween on this blog before, so you can definitely go there to learn more if you want.
To “hallow” something, however, is to make it holy or special. Perhaps that’s the meaning she’s using, and the Deathly Hallows are a set of holy items, like the horcruxes?
But J. K. Rowling rarely uses words in the same way everyone else does. One of the fan sites, for example, posits that she might use Hallow in the sense of “Hollow”, a dark spot in a forest.
More likely, though, is that they’re the four special symbols that hold the key to the wizarding world, the horcruxes, as mentioned earlier.
On another forum, there’s yet another possibility: “Inside sources report that the four Hallows of the Grail are being housed somewhere inside Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The Hallows are said to have been returned to the school for safe keeping. For ages the Grail or Cup was reported to have been in the custody of Helga Hufflepuff, the Sword had been guarded by Godric Gryffindor, the Spear was held by Rowena Ravenclaw, and the Stone, initially created by Nicholas Flamel, was in the possesion of Salazar Slytherin until all were stolen by devious means by the army of wizards under control of the dread Hilter. Athough these items were thought to have been recovered from the diabolical wizard and former dictator of Germany by American Wizarding Agents at the end of World War II, the where abouts of these Hallows (with exception to rumors of the Stone appearing at Hogwarts a few years ago) have been unknown until recently.”
I don’t think we’ll know for sure until that fateful day when Book 7, the last of the Harry Potter series, is released, at which point a whole lot of people will hunker down and find out the fate of the Potter world in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I know I will!
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