The wizarding world of Harry Potter came to life Tuesday when the Student Union Building buzzed with the sights and sounds of the fourth annual Harry Potter Day.
The celebration, hosted by the University of New Mexico Student Activities Center and Associated Students of UNM, included: a trivia contest, a photo booth complete with props, a button making station where students could choose Harry Potter quotes and images to press into a button, face-painting, cookies and free “butterbeer.”
Ryan Lindquist, interim director of UNM Student Activities, said Harry Potter Day is a way for students to relax before the two weeks leading up to final exams.
“We like to have some decompression time for students as they’re going into finals, so this is one of those great events where we can have students on campus forget about studying for a while — forget about classes, relax, socialize, have a great time,” Lindquist said.
Amanda Valdez, senior and business major at UNM, said celebrating this day is popular at the University this time of year, because the Christmas season plays a prominent role in the Harry Potter story.
“It’s perfect because Harry Potter is known for Christmas time, and this is right before the holidays so it’s perfect timing,” she said.
Students were encouraged to dress up as their favorite character.
Noah Tijerina, a freshman and fine arts major, wore the costume of a Gryffindor student, one of the four “houses” students in Harry Potter are sorted into. His Gryffindor robe, however, was not what made him stand out. Tijerina carried an animatronic white owl, which moved its head and rested on his arm.
“I was ready for Harry Potter Day,” he said. “I love the fantasy and how relatable it can be to any of us. A day like this to relax and get your mind off things, it really helps. It gets your mind off all the stress of taking tests and passing classes. I just love the fact that UNM does stuff like this for students.”
Throughout the country, Harry Potter is popular with college students. Many different universities have Harry Potter fan clubs and celebrate the fantasy with Harry Potter Days of their own. Lindquist said this is because the story of Harry Potter is closely linked to the life of a student.
“Harry Potter, I think, is just one of those classic stories that typically identifies with younger people as they’re growing up and (the) struggle of childhood and going through school that people tend to identify with,” he said.
Lindquist has also noticed an increase in the popularity of Harry Potter Day every year.
“From year to year, we see more and more students dressing in Harry Potter costumes and paraphernalia,” he said. “We can tell it’s really catching on here on campus, that people are looking forward to, and anticipating, Harry Potter Day every single year.”
Tom Hanlon is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TomHanlonNM.