Why 2016 Is the Year of the Hufflepuff

Hufflepuffs, wear your yellow and black with pride: this is your year. Thanks to the upcoming Harry Potter spinoff, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, out this month, Newt Scamander will join the likes of Cedric Diggory and Tonks as a standout character from the house of the badger. Even the queen herself — J.K. Rowling — tweeted that this is going to be the "Age of Hufflepuff."

This is monumental, because Hufflepuffs are, at best, the most underrated house. At worst, the house is the butt of some jokes. Who can forget when Draco said, "I know I'll be in Slytherin, all our family have been — imagine being in Hufflepuff, I think I'd leave, wouldn't you?" Or when Mindy Kaling tweeted, "Nobody wants to be Hufflepuff." Ouch.

While Gryffindors are brave, Ravenclaws are wise, and Slytherins are ambitious, the traits Hufflepuffs tout — being loyal, hard working, and friendly — aren't nearly as flashy, and they've (unfairly) slipped under the radar thus far.

But the times, they are a-changin'. Just ask Deadpool. Or, more importantly, Newt.

Seeing an accomplished Hufflepuff as the star for once in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be the biggest step toward giving the house a much-deserved boost. While we don't know how the character will come across in the movie, what we do know from the fictional textbook he wrote is that Newton Artemis Fido "Newt" Scamander is no doofus. He's an author, expert in in magizoology, former employee at the Ministry of Magic, and even headmaster of Hogwarts.

So what do Hufflepuffs themselves think about all this?

Earlier this year, during a Harry Potter event that took place at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, I spoke with a fair amount of fans, keeping my eye out for friendly faces who looked like they wouldn't mind chatting with me for a few minutes. It wasn't until I was transcribing the interviews later that I realized how many of them were Hufflepufs, which just speaks to the fact that they are truly are the most welcoming and friendly house. Naturally, they were excited to talk about Newt and the dawn of a new era for their house.

POPSUGAR Photography | Tara Block

Proudly rocking his yellow-lined house robes, Rene Sanchez, 34, told me it's "absolutely" the year of the Hufflepuff. "I'm so excited about that. I think of all of the four houses, Hufflepuff was sort of the one that was a little overlooked," he said. "And the people who identified with that house and that philosophy have been a little bit of the butt of the joke. It's really exciting to finally see it come into its own."

While in line at Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour, 26-year-old Sama Askari — also decked out in Hufflepuff gear and channeling Tonks with her vibrantly colored hair — spoke with me about the Harry Potter fandom resurgence that's come about from Fantastic Beasts. "I'm just excited that more people like it because then I'm less weird," she said. "I mean, not that it matters, but I would rather a lot of people be familiar with it because then I can make references and people will just get it."

POPSUGAR Photography | Tara Block

One of the most important traits of the Hufflepuff house — especially today — is its members' tolerance for others, something that began with its founder, Helga Hufflepuff. She accepted all students instead of selecting particular ones like the other house founders. She famously said, "I'll teach the lot and treat them just the same."

Mike Hitchcock, 26, reflected this characteristic as he spoke with me on the streets of Diagon Alley about what he loves most about the Harry Potter fandom. "It's a huge community that celebrates their differences," he said. "We work together with our differences."

POPSUGAR Photography | Tara Block

Rafael Ufret, 42, shared a similar sentiment about being both a proud Hufflepuff and Harry Potter fan. "We believe in equality," said Ufret. "J.K. Rowling is all about equality and no discrimination and human rights, and that's what sets us apart. It's not just something fun that we do. We actually go out [and help] the community."

He adds, "It is amazing. This is the year of the Hufflepuff. Newt Scamander and the American Ministry of Magic is bringing a little magic across the pond."

While the fans I spoke with grew up with J.K. Rowling's original series, it will be interesting to see if a new wave of Hufflepuffs will emerge following Fantastic Beasts now that they have a house hero in Newt. Perhaps the former prejudice against Hufflpuffs will fade as well. Helga would be proud.

So thank you, Newt, can't wait to see you on the big screen proving just how badass Hufflepuffs can be!

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