36

Is it ever mentioned when Muggle parents are informed their child is a wizard or witch?

I see three possibilites

  1. At birth (but who would know)
  2. When the Quill of Acceptance and Book of Admittance determine a child will be accepted at Hogwarts (most plausible)
  3. On the child's 11th birthday, when the letters arrive (might be too long to wait)
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    i think hermione finds out when she receives her letter. – Himarm May 23 '16 at 16:59
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    I'd add a 4th option: If and when the child do some magic that can't be explained - or obliviated - away. There must be a limit for how many times parents can be oblivated, if the child keeps doing magic stuff around them. – Baard Kopperud May 23 '16 at 20:00
  • @BaardKopperud I would say the book would have recognized by that point. Its main purpose it keep out squibs. – Skooba May 23 '16 at 21:36
  • More importantly, what happens if the parents don't want their child (or even the child doesn't want to), attend Hogwarts? Note that I'm treating Harry as a special case as Dumbledore and the entire wizarding world had a stake in his education. – Robotnik May 24 '16 at 1:02
  • @Robotic - Well, Wizarding parents can teach their own children. Not sure about Muggles. – Adamant May 25 '16 at 20:58
31

When they receive their Hogwarts acceptance letter

Hermione seemed surprised to get a letter from Hogwarts, which suggests that her parents probably were too:

"Nobody in my family's magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, I mean, it's the very best school of witchcraft there is, I've heard — I've learned all our course books by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough — I'm Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?"

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

This strongly suggests that your third option is correct: Muggle-born wizards and witches, and their families, find out about their place in the magical world when they are accepted to Hogwarts.

Similarly, Colin Creevey (and presumably his family) were unaware he was a wizard until they received the acceptance letter:

“It’s amazing here, isn’t it? I never knew all the odd stuff I could do was magic till I got the letter from Hogwarts. My dad’s a milkman, he couldn’t believe it either. So I’m taking loads of pictures to send home to him. And it’d be really good if I had one of you” — he looked imploringly at Harry — “maybe your friend could take it and I could stand next to you? And then, could you sign it?”

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

On the other hand, young witches and wizards are bound to demonstrate magical skills around the house, which quite possibly would indicate to their parents that they were magical (though not the existence of a secret wizarding society, one presumes). After all, young children rarely have any control over their magic.

They’d seen her doing magic, spying through the back garden hedge: She was a kid, she couldn’t control it, no witch or wizard can at that age.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Certainly Harry caused his share of bizarre incidents, from floating to the top of the school roof to growing back his hair to Vanishing the glass in front of a snake's enclosure.

The problem was, strange things often happened around Harry and it was just no good telling the Dursleys he didn't make them happen.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

There would therefore be ample evidence for a Muggle family to conclude that there was something magical about their child from early on, before receiving explicit confirmation from Hogwarts. Presumably the Ministry would clean up any messes where non-family noticed particularly conspicuous displays.

  • 4
    This would be the third option as they are surprised by the letters. Just makes we wonder how many ten-year-olds were in psychiatric counseling because of the magic displays.... – Skooba May 23 '16 at 17:13
  • actually the ministry is shown to not interfere with childhood magic, harry was found on the roof of his school, as well as vanished glass in front of tons of witnesses. not that he could be directly tied to magic, but they seemed hands off – Himarm May 23 '16 at 17:19
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    @Himarm - Presumably they must interfere in extreme cases, since the don't want Muggles as a whole finding out about magic. Since they do it with adult magic and all. – Adamant May 23 '16 at 17:20
  • This is only partly the third option, "when the letters arrive". The part "On the child's 11th birthday" is wrong, it is just coincidence that Harry's letter is delivered on his birthday. The first letter came a few days before his birthday, then more and more letters, then the Dursleys retreat to the motel, and finally to the island, where Hagrid finally brings the letter. If the Dursleys hadn't interfered, Harry would have had his letter about a week before the birthday. – QuestionAuthority Jan 3 at 10:18
37

When the student receives their letter of admission into Hogwarts, we see the first time both the student and the family find out their child is magical.

Colin drew a great shuddering breath of excitement and said, ‘It’s brilliant here, isn’t it? I never knew all the odd stuff I could do was magic till I got the letter from Hogwarts. My dad’s a milkman, he couldn’t believe it either

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

And Hermione's quote from Philosopher Stone.

Nobody in my family’s magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, I mean, it’s the very best school of witchcraft there is, I’ve heard – I’ve learnt all our set books off by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough – I’m Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?’

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    So when Petunia says "Of course we knew! How could you not be, my dratted sister being what she was?", it was just a supposition, right? – A. Darwin May 23 '16 at 17:08
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    @A.Darwin Petunia knew harry was a wizard since both of Harry parents where magical, and she knew that for a fact. They attempted to 'stomp all that magical business out of him' but it didnt quite work. Not to mention Harry had been using magic in front of her for years. – Himarm May 23 '16 at 17:10
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    In addition, in the first book Dumbledore leaves the Dursleys a letter with Harry in which he explains what's going on, so even if Petunia didn't know how magic was passed on, she would know that Harry was a wizard from the letter. – John Robinson May 23 '16 at 21:55
  • There's a passage that I can't remember off hand but it states that someone hand delivers acceptance letters to muggle-borns to explain the situation vs owls that are used to deliver to everyone else. Snape explained it to Lily during the Pensieve flashback. – Buildstarted May 24 '16 at 23:40
3

They find out when the child is eleven, hence Hermione stating how delighted she was when she got her letter, implying she didn't know before then, and so neither did her parents. It is possible, however, that muggle parents might be informed beforehand if the child is showing immense magical ability and the magic is causing problems and confusion.

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