The Sorting ceremony is a yearly ritual performed at the beginning of each school year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Its purpose is to assign first years to one of the four school Houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin. The Sorting is held in the Great Hall before the start of term feast, after all students have arrived at school via the Hogwarts Express.
The Sorting Hat is placed upon a stool at the head of the Great Hall, whereupon it sings a song of its own composition about the four founders of Hogwarts and the qualities sought by their respective Houses (this song is different every year). The Sorting Hat also can give warnings to the students whenever it detects a need (it can be presumed that the Hat gets its information from the headmaster's office, as it lives there). New students are then summoned to the stool one by one in alphabetical order by last name, where they sit upon the stool and don the Hat.
Decision of the Hat
The decision of the Sorting Hat is generally considered to be final, although its decision can be influenced somewhat by the desires of the wearer. However, there are only two people who definitely know this. When Harry Potter was being sorted in his First year, the hat told him he would do well in Slytherin, but Harry asked to be placed elsewhere. Harry later told his son Albus Potter about the hat's ability to take the wearers request into consideration. It is possible that Sirius Black also asked to be placed in Gryffindor, since he decides to break the tradition of his family being in Slytherin after consulting James Potter.
Sorting Hat's song
The Sorting Hat's introductory song changes every year, presumably because, according to Ron Weasley, the Hat has nothing to do between Sortings except compose a new song.
Behind the scenes
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the students aren't sorted in alphabetical order for dramatic effect. The hat's song is also omitted.
- When Harry was watching Snape's memories in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, he sees his father quote a part of the song the hat sang the year Harry was Sorted, although its songs supposedly change every year. However, it is possible that it sometimes reuses songs or, at the very least, some lines or verses.
- In the film, Harry speaks aloud his desire to be a Gryffindor rather than a Slytherin, and presumably everyone hears him. This is contrary to the novel, in which Harry finds he does not need to speak, because the Hat can hear his deepest thoughts and desires. This is probably for the ease of the movie-watchers.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, during the Sorting of Lily Evans, for an unknown reason the Headmaster's chair is empty at the staff table.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter: Spells