You may be wondering what Hogswatch is all about, and I don't blame you. Up until 2006, I had never heard of Sir Terry Pratchett or any of his amazing books. Then a dear friend of mine handed me her copy of Equal Rites, a book about a girl who is bestowed the mantel of wizard in a world where women are witches and only men hold the title of wizard. It was one of Sir Pratchett's shortest books, but it packed a very funny punch from the moment you learn that a town called Bad Ass is named after a very stubborn mule to the very end. And if Unseen University seems a bit like Hogwarts, just keep in mind that Sir Pratchett's book came out in 1987, making him very clever, indeed, for stealing the idea of Hogswarts so many years before Ms. Rowling would write about it. (Please don't get mad at me. I am a fan of both the Discworld and Harry Potter. I just want it understood that Sir Pratchett wrote this many years before Harry Potter was even imagined. I get very sick and upset to know that there was ever a media feud started up between the two because I love them both.)
Okay, Debra, but Equal Rites doesn't tell us anything about Hogswatch! True, but it's worth mentioning because it is how I got into the writings of Terry Pratchett, and boy was he prolific. After that fateful access to a new world full of rich, diverse, and hysterical characters, I began to devour Sir Pratchett's work.
If you know anything about Sir Pratchett's work, you know that the character of Death is in every (or almost every, I'm not sure) book. He is a tall, skeletal figure, carrying a scythe and filled with good intentions. He first appears as a more "fleshed" out character in Mort, where he takes on an apprentice and introduces the young man to his adopted daughter. From there, you can follow Death and his family through Reaper Man and Soul Music. His story finally culminates in the fantastic book Hogfather, where Death takes on the role of a Santa Claus-like figure known as the Hogfather to save the Discworld with the help of his granddaughter.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I love the Death series of books. The four book series is my favorite among all of Sir Pratchett's extensive work. Reaper Man and Hogfather are my two favorites among the Death series. But if you force me to make a choice, I'm going to have to pick Hogfather by a very thin margin, and it all has to do with the BBC movie.
First of all, Sir Pratchett makes a cameo in the film as the toy maker. Secondly, it is a really great adaptation of the novel. Only minor changes are made, and you'd have to really be a big nerd who's read the book a million times to catch them (ahem). Third, Michelle Dockery (from Downtown Abby) plays Susan Sto Helit, and she truly embodies the inner babysitter. Forth, David Jason (the voice of Count Duckula) plays Albert, the most foul elf to ever help deliver toys. Fifth, the delightful cast of misfits, including Banjo, Bilious the oh god of hangovers, Corporal Knobbs, Ponder Stibbons, Ridcully, the Tooth Fairy, Bogey Men, the and the Verruca Gnome. And last, but certainly not least, Marc Warren as Jonathan Teatime. Who is Marc Warren? He was Elton Pope in one of my favorite episodes of Dr. Who called "Love & Monsters" (2006).
I'm sorry if I've gone on for a bit, but I really do love this movie, the book, Sir Terry Pratchett, and the whole of the Discoworld. I am forever in gratitude to my friend for introducing me to this world, and if I can share the experience, then I can pay it forward.
This date may run a little more expensive than some of the other dates we've shared. Unless you are me or some huge fan of Sir Pratchett, you may not have a copy of Hogfather, If this is the case, you may be able to catch it on television around the holidays (the first time I saw it was on cable one Christmas Eve) and plan your date accordingly. If not, then you might want to purchase a copy here. Or if you're lucky, you may be able to find it at your local library. The only other expense will be the food, and we went all out for this pseudo-holiday feast. We made hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows and pork pies (made with gluten-free crust) with gluten-free mustard and relish.
Who Would Enjoy It
This is a really fun date for a couple or a whole family, especially if you throw in some holiday decorating while enjoying the movie and the delicious fare.
What You May Need
- Favorite holiday decorations
You really need to think comfort when you settle in for a movie, especially if you going to a warm and cozy holiday atmosphere. You need a place to sit or lay for every person who plans to indulge in the activity. It is also important to have a clean house, especially if you plan to decorate, as this will make decorating far more enjoyable.
- While we had hot chocolate and pork pies (pork pies are traditional on Hogswatch), you may want to consider different food that reminds you of your favorite holiday. We tend to do this date in late November/early December, so we can decorate our house for Christmas, so having traditional Hogswatch food does not take away from our normal Christmas foods. We may also want to consider whether you want to pig out and eat all types of bad food, or do you want to make healthier versions of your favorite treats? We tried to strike a balance, keeping to gluten free crust and mustard and making everything from scratch, but we did ingest a lot of sugar with the hot chocolate and the marshmallows. You may also want to decide if you're going to make the food before or during the movie. We made it during, simply because of time constraints, but I would have loved to have sat down and watched the whole thing.
- The second consideration is if you do decide to make pork pies, you may want to make your pork ahead of time. We cooked out pork in the slow cooker the night before and shredded it the day of. You may also want to make the marshmallow ahead of time, so that it sets properly. We made it for the video, so it did not have time to set properly. Normally we would have made them the night before.
- The third consideration is etiquette and rules. Will you pause movies for bathroom breaks? Will you pause for discussions, or will people be encouraged to keep their mouths shut during the movies? If you want people to stay quiet, will their be a time for discussion after the movie or during the credits?
- The fourth consideration is to think about taking a slight break between the first and second part up and move around. This movie was made for British television and is a little over three hours long, so taking a break is advised.
- The fifth consideration is to decide if you will decorate during the movie. If so, make sure to have your decorations ready to go out. Make sure you have a clean house, or at least, a clean room for decorating. Even if you enjoy watching movies in the dark, you may want to have some light source while decorating, so that no one gets hurt.