The Start-of-Term Feast, also known as the Welcoming Feast or the Great Feast, is the traditional feast of the first night at Hogwarts, welcoming the start of a new school year. It is held in the Great Hall on the night of 1 September following the arrival of the students on the Hogwarts Express. The feast is notable for including the Sorting of all new first year students into their Houses.
- Albus Dumbledore: "Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you."
- Harry Potter: "Is he — a bit mad?"
- Percy Weasley: "Mad? He's a genius! Best wizard in the world! But he is a bit mad, yes. Potatoes, Harry?"
- — Reaction to Dumbledore's 1991 Start-of-Term speech[src]
The Start-of-Term Feast is also used to introduce new members of the teaching staff to the student body, and to pass out important announcements and messages concerning the new school year. This is usually done in the form of a speech by the Headmaster or Headmistress. They may also choose to say a few words during this time, such as in 1991, when Albus Dumbledore told the students, "Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!", or in 1994, when he said "Tuck in!" Hereby, depending on the mood of the Head, the School Song may be sung, to no particular melody other than the individual's choosing. Sometimes, there is a musical presentation by pupils during the feast, for example in 1993, the school choir led a presentation of Something Wicked This Way Comes before the announcements.
In the 1995–1996 school year, the Ministry-implanted teacher, Dolores Umbridge, interrupted Dumbledore's welcoming speech at the end of the feast, which no other new teachers had ever done before, something the students found amusing. Umbridge went on to insult the students by speaking down on them as though they were five-year old children, and then began a very dull speech that most students simply wandered off into chatter (some Prefects pretended to listen to live up to their duties), with Umbridge continuing ignorantly. The other teachers and Hermione Granger knew the very meaning of the speech: "the Ministry is interfering at Hogwarts".
The Feast is held in the Great Hall just like all of the other meals at Hogwarts, and is traditionally attended by every student and teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft And Wizardry, other than Sybill Trelawney. During the Feast, hundreds of plates are set on each of the four House tables and are filled with food magically appearing on the empty plates, prepared by house-elves working in the kitchens below. Likewise, it is emptied by vanishing before their eyes when the Feast is complete.
The types of food served are roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops, lamb chops, sausages, bacon, steak, joints, steak and kidney pie, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, mashed potato, chips, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup, and peppermint humbugs. For dessert, they had blocks of assorted ice cream, apple pies, spotted dick, chocolate gateau, treacle tart, pumpkin tart, chocolate éclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, jelly, and rice pudding.
Behind the scenes
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the Hogwarts choir was seen singing the song Something Wicked This Way Comes conducted by Professor Flitwick, though it is not shown in the book itself.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the candidates from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons are introduced during the Start-of-Term Feast. However, in the book they arrive prior to the Hallowe'en feast, and a separate feast is held to inaugurate the Triwizard Tournament.
- The feast in 1994 would have been cancelled had it not been for the Bloody Baron because Peeves was causing chaos in the kitchens, scaring the House Elfs. This was also the first feast during which Hermione found out about the House Elfs and presumably the night that S.P.E.W. was founded.
- Through various combinations of circumstances, Harry Potter missed or partially missed a number of these in his school years, fully attending only the ones for his first, fourth and fifth years.
- Flaming kiwi cups were to be amongst the dishes served at this feast in 1993, but the line mentioning them was cut from the film adaptation after being written into the original script.
- 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 Chamber of Secrets (film) (Disc 2) (Seen through a window)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery