Following on from my wonderings about wands in Harry Potter, I wanted to talk a bit more about Death Eaters.
As I said yesterday, it’s a very silly name. Apparently J.K. Rowling was originally going to call them the ‘Knights of Walpurgis‘ (thanks to Arwen on Twitter for that gem!) – at first glance an equally silly name.
But J.K. doesn’t do things at random – this is the author who even chose the wood Harry’s wand was made from very deliberately:
European tradition has it that the holly tree (the name comes from ‘holy’) repels evil, while yew, which can achieve astonishing longevity…
~Article on Harry Potter’s Wand, from the Harry Potter Wiki
It appears that the Knights of Walpurgis is based on Walpurgis Night or Walpurgisnacht, the 30th of April, the eve of the feast day of Saint Walpurga. In German folklore Walpurgisnacht is believed to be the night of a witches’ gathering.
So, how did we get from the Knights of Walpurgis to the Death Eaters? I’m struggling to find out – if you can shed any light on it, please let me know!
You can just imagine the scene though…
Voldemort: I’ve gathered you here tonight, my loyal friends, for a very special occasion. Tonight I shall announce the name that I have chosen for you all!
Voice from the back: Oooh, Voldy. Do tell!
Voldemort: Right. Who said that? I’ve told you before. It’s LORD VOLDEMORT. Or HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED!
Voice from the back: Or ‘you know who’ [giggles]
Voldemort: That’s it! I’ve had enough! AVADA KEDAVRA!
Voice from the back: ouch! Oh, bum [dies]
Voldemort: We shall henceforth be known as THE KNIGHTS OF WALPURGIS!
All: Eh? The Knights of what?
Voldemort: The Knights of Walpurgis! It’s a play on Walpurgis Night! The gathering of witches? In Germany? End of April?
Voldemort: I despair. AVADA KEDAVRA! AVADA KEDAVRA! AVADA KEDAVA!!!…
…AVADA KEDAVRA! EAT DEATH, KNIGHTS OF WALPURGIS! AVADA KEDAVRA!
[FX: MORE THUDS]
Voldemort: Hey, that’s not bad actually. How would you feel about being called DEATH EATERS?
All: [FX: APPLAUSE]