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"The very best of evenings to you!... Now… to our new students, welcome, to our old students, welcome back! Another year full of magical education awaits you..."
1996 Start-of-Term Feast announcements[src]

The Start-of-Term Feast, also known as the Welcoming Feast[3][4] or the Great Feast,[5] was the traditional feast of the first night at Hogwarts, welcoming the start of a new school year.

It was held in the Great Hall on the night of 1 September following the arrival of the students on the Hogwarts Express. The feast was notable for including the Sorting of all new first-year students into their Houses.[1]


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 was 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 was usually done in the form of a speech by the Headmaster or Headmistress.[1][6][7][8][9] They might also choose to say a few words during this time, such as in 1991, when Albus Dumbledore told the students, "Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!",[1] or in 1994, when he said "Tuck in!"[7]

Start-of-Term Feast in 1994

Depending on the mood of the Head, the School Song might be sung, to no particular melody other than the individual's choosing.[1] Sometimes, there was 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.[10]

The Divination professor Sybill Trelawney usually chose not to attend such events.[11]

1995 Start-of-Term Feast

At the beginning of 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, while the staff seemed offended.

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".[8]


The feast was held in the Great Hall just like all of the other meals at Hogwarts, and was traditionally attended by every student and teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, other than Sybill Trelawney. During the feast, hundreds of plates were set on each of the four House tables and were filled with food magically appearing on the empty plates, prepared by house-elves working in the kitchens below. Likewise, it was emptied by vanishing before their eyes when the feast was complete.[1]

The food being served at the Start-of-Term Feast

The types of food served were roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops, lamb chops, sausages, bacon, steak, joints, steak and kidney pie, boiled potatoes, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, chips, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup, and peppermint humbugs. For dessert, there were blocks of assorted ice cream, apple pies, spotted dick, chocolate gateau, treacle tart, pumpkin tart, chocolate éclairs & jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, jelly, and rice pudding.[1]

Behind the scenes


Notes and references