At the beginning of Philosopher’s Stone (the book), Vernon goes to work at Grunnings. This is on Tuesday 1st November 1981.

When he was watching the news that night, the TV weatherman, Jim McGuffin, talks about how people are supposedly “celebrating Bonfire Night early” and announces that said event is “not till next week.”

But since 1st November is on a “dull grey Tuesday,” Bonfire Night would fall on a Saturday, so it wouldn’t be “next week,” but the SAME week.

So what gives?

  • 26
    Add this to the colossal list of times that JK Rowling was bad at math.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 15:12
  • Perhaps the weatherman is a incógnito wizard who timetraveled with a time-turner in order to keep the magical festivities covered, and got his dates mixed up?
    – IloneSP
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 15:44
  • 1
    the news was talking about the night before, - Monday, 31, October - Halloween. The newsman said "instead of the rain I promised yesterday - they've had a downpour of shooting stars". Halloween in 1981 was on a Saturday. Bonfire Night that year would was on Thursday (11/5) so the celebrations the previous night were a 'week' early if they were interpreted as being for Guy Fawkes celebrations
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 15:45
  • I had to look up Bonfire Night. I had assumed it was an un-official, local, and often changed holiday like Homecoming in the US.
    – Aww_Geez
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 16:19
  • 2
    @Aww_Geez, “Remember, remember, the fifth of November, Gunpowder treason and plot. I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.”
    – Darren
    Commented Jun 2, 2021 at 5:40

1 Answer 1


November 1st 1981 fell on a Sunday, so the weather man is correct, Bonfire Night (November 5th) is next week. However, the passage from the book states:

When Mr. and Mrs. Dursley woke up on the dull, grey Tuesday our story starts, there was nothing about the cloudy sky outside to suggest that strange and mysterious things would soon be happening all over the country.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 1 - The Boy Who Lived

So J.K. Rowling was actually wrong about the day of the week! It seems fictional weather reporters can be correct even if their creator isn't.

Funny how a statement as innocent as "The week starts on a Monday" can be controversial, isn't it?

Joking aside, a comment by Alex has sparked an interesting discussion in the comments about how the start of a week is different in different parts of the world. Here in Blighty, the convention is that the week begins on a Monday, after the weekend of Saturday and Sunday. However, I did like the comment from wizzwizz4 that the week, like a piece of string, has two ends, so starting and finishing on a weekend does make sense.

It is true that this wasn't always the case in the UK, and in fact I have struggled to find when the beginning on a Monday convention did become the norm. I've watched a few weather reports from the early 1980s which have been inconclusive, and looked at some vintage calendars on eBay which can start on either a Sunday or a Monday so also inconclusive. I'm leaving my answer as it stands though, as I do think most Brits would agree with my logic that the weather reporter is correct about Bonfire Night being "not until next week, folks!" if he is reporting on a Sunday.

Either way, I think we can all agree J.K. fluffed this one up.

  • 17
    @TheLethalCarrot Certainly a possibility. Perhaps the passage after the weather report should read "Mr. Dursley sat frozen in his armchair. Shooting stars all over Britain? Owls flying by daylight? Mysterious people in cloaks all over the place? Sundays becoming Tuesdays?" Problem solved!
    – Ongo
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 16:01
  • 10
    @Alex Weeks start on Monday, according to international standard ISO 8601. Not to mention the more obvious reason in any culture with a Christian tradition.
    – alephzero
    Commented Jun 2, 2021 at 2:02
  • 5
    @Alex: British newscasters follow this convention, since they are speaking to a British audience that use ISO 8601 in their daily life (without knowing the name of the standard).
    – Taladris
    Commented Jun 2, 2021 at 2:21
  • 5
    @GordonD Weeks start on Sunday; that's why we have two week ends (earliest end and latest end), and why Wodenstag is Mittwoch.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Jun 2, 2021 at 10:17
  • 4
    @GordonD No. Christians mostly go to church on the day of Jesus's resurrection, which was the day after the Sabbath and was called the "first day of the week" in the Bible.. Jewish people (and some Christian sects) are the ones who rest on the seventh day, which starts at Friday at sundown and goes until sundown on Saturday. (Note, I'm not disputing the idea that Monday is now considered the first day of the week in many places.)
    – trlkly
    Commented Jun 2, 2021 at 16:19

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