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"The reaping is a good opportunity for the Capitol to keep tabs on the population as well. Twelve- through eighteen-year-olds are herded into roped areas marked off by ages, the oldest in the front, the young ones, like Prim, toward the back."
Katniss Everdeen discussing the reaping[src]

The reaping stage in District 12 during the 74th Hunger Games.

The reaping was an annual event that took place in every district before each Hunger Games, where the tributes of the upcoming Games were chosen. It serves as the opening event in the week immediately prior to the start of the Hunger Games.

History

After the first rebellion in which every district was defeated by the Capitol, the Treaty of Treason was signed into law. Among the treaty's many provisions was the implementation of the Hunger Games. The reaping was developed as a means of selecting the tributes to participate in the Hunger Games through a lottery, although the initial implementation of the event gradually evolved into its modern form over the years.

For earlier iterations of Games, the mayor of each district was the one responsible for the selection of the male and the female tribute, instead of an escort sent from the Capitol. During the 10th Hunger Games, Mayor Lipp read Jessup and Lucy Gray's names in District 12[1]. It is unknown why or when the Capitol started sending escorts to lead the reaping, but since some reapings were rigged so certain tributes would be picked, it may have been an attempt to make it harder for the mayors to use the reapings to their personal advantage.

Process

Effie Trinket, District 12's escort, standing next to one of the reaping bowls.

The reaping is the opening event for the Hunger Games, held in the summer during the early afternoon, around 1:00 pm in the case of District 12. As Panem spans the breadth of North America, the reapings are not held at the same time for each district due to differing time zones. As such, the reaping proceeds from the east coast to the west coast, with the first four districts to hold reapings being 12, 8, 6, and 11, with the the last presumed to be Districts 2, 1, 7 and 4. 

The reaping is a mandatory event for the entire district population, especially so for those still of reaping age. Failure to report to the reaping incurs severe penalties such as imprisonment. The only exemption given for attendance is if an individual is severely ill or close to death. Government officials make rounds through the district to confirm if this is the case, in the evening of the day before the reaping is to be held.

As the time for the reaping approaches, the district population is to assemble in the plaza outside of the Justice Building[2] (Hall of Justice in the films)[3] as was the case for the District 12 reaping, which was in the center of the town. The plaza is decorated with banners of Panem, with cameras crews set up around the perimeter of the plaza to both capture the event as well as the reaction of the crowd and selected tributes, as it is televised live for both the citizens of the Capitol and the nation.

Katniss' finger is pricked for blood in order to identify her.

As district citizens enter the plaza, they are required to register with government officials. Citizens provide a blood sample to confirm their identity, with Katniss commenting that the reaping allows the Capitol to keep tabs on the district population as an informal census and presumably confirm that all required citizens are in attendance. Each age group of reaping eligible children was contained in roped-off areas in the town square separated on each side by gender, with the oldest eligible children in the front and the youngest in the back. Adults and family members of the potential tributes are placed along the perimeter, while late-arriving citizens are herded to the streets adjacent to the plaza to watch the reapings live on large screens. [2]

On the stage in the front of the Justice Building, district government officials such as the mayor, the district escort, and previous Hunger Games victors assemble there. At 2:00 pm, the mayor steps forward and recites the history of the founding of Panem, the First Rebellion, the implementation and rules for the Hunger Games, and the spoils and riches that come from victory in it. Following this, the mayor reads off a list of the district's previous Hunger Games victors. Once this is done, the mayor hands the proceedings over to the district escort, who officially opens the reaping.

After a brief number of comments, the escort proceeds to select a name at random from the reaping bowls. Many citizens of the Capitol, as well as those from the district, often placed bets on who would be chosen. It is not known if the order of selection is a codified rule or left to the discretion of the escort. For both the 74th and 75th Hunger Games, Effie Trinket, District 12's escort, selected the female tribute first, followed by the males. Once a entry slip is selected, the tribute's name is announced by the escort, and the individual selected is to approach the stage where they are presented to the district, with the same process repeated for the other gender. Following selection, another reaping eligible child may choose to volunteer for the appropriate selected tribute's place. Otherwise, the two tributes are formally announced as the district's representation in that year's Hunger Games.[4]

Following their selection, the mayor of the district recites the Treaty of Treason. After this, the tributes are taken into custody and brought into the Justice Building to an extravagant room within, which is guarded by Peacekeepers to prevent the tribute from escaping participation. There, the tributes are allotted one hour to meet with family, friends, and other individuals to say their goodbyes and make their final arrangements. Each visitor(s) have an unspecified allotment of time with the selected tribute through the hour, before they are escorted out by Peacekeepers. Once the hour is elapsed, the tributes are taken by Peacekeepers to a waiting car outside, which transports them and their district partner to the district train station. There they board a train, alongside their escort and eventual mentor, bound for the Capitol. [4]

Eligibility and Tesserae

Main article: Tessera

The District 12 reapings for the 75th Hunger Games

Each district's escort has the duty of selecting the name of one male and one female tribute from two separate glass balls, both containing all entries of every eligible male and female potential tribute respectively of the district. Those picked are then the official tributes for the upcoming Games. Only children aged 12-18 are eligible to be reaped. When a child turns 19, they are officially ineligible to participate in the reaping and the Hunger Games. Similarly, past victors of the Hunger Games, even if they are still of reaping age, are exempt from further reapings.

Once of age at twelve years old, a potential tribute's name was entered into the reaping one time. The entries were cumulative with each passing year, so when a possible tribute was thirteen, their name was added one more time and again at fourteen and so on. This continued until age eighteen, when a potential tribute's name was entered seven times.

For the residents of the various districts, any child between the ages of 12 through 18 could apply for tesserae. This supplied them with a year's supply of grain and oil. They could choose to do this for each of their family members as well. However, each tesserae they signed up for put another slip with their name in the reaping ball, which was also cumulative for each year they applied for tesserae. As such, sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen had her name put in the glass ball twenty times, having applied for herself as well as her sister and mother for five years since the age of 12. Similarly, Gale Hawthorne, who had five family members including himself, did the same for seven years and thus had his name put in the glass ball forty-two times. The amount of tesserae taken was larger in Panem's poorer districts, such as District 12 and 11, but much rarer in the more affluent district of 1, 2, and 4.[2]

Volunteering

Katniss volunteering for Prim during the reaping of the 74th Hunger Games.

If someone chose to, another reaping age child may elect to volunteer to take the place of a reaped tribute. Volunteering was made by vocal acclamation, typically to the effect of "I volunteer as tribute." The act of volunteering was rare in most of the districts, largely due to the prevailing view of being selected to participate in the Hunger Games seen as a death sentence, with Effie remarking in Katniss Everdeen's case that she was allegedly District 12's first volunteer in 74 years of Hunger Games thus far. Reasons to volunteer varied from person to person, such as to protect and/or save the reaped tribute from participation as was the case for Katniss when she volunteered for her sister, Primrose Everdeen, after she was reaped for the 74th Hunger Games.

Volunteering, however, was a far more common occurrence in the "Career" districts of 1, 2, and 4, where participation in the Hunger Games is viewed as a great honor. In these districts, many children attend specialized training academies where they are instructed in various forms of combat and survival in preparation for the Games. Eventually, typically towards the end of their eligibility around the age of 17-18, they volunteer to participate in the Hunger Games with great enthusiasm.

The rules regarding volunteering are never fully specified and thus remain unclear and vague. The volunteering process was simple in most districts due to its rarity, especially in the outlier districts. However, in the Career districts, volunteering was a more complicated process, as Katniss remarks the reaping in these districts took hours. How a tribute is ultimately selected if there is more than one volunteer is unclear as is likely the case in the Career districts. It is known that a reaping-aged child may only volunteer for a selected tribute that was the same gender as their own (A male volunteer could not take the place of a female reaped tribute, and vice versa). Similarly, an individual not of reaping age could not volunteer for a selected tribute. Additionally, the tribute who is being volunteered for could not in turn volunteer for the volunteer, as Haymitch remarks on what would happen should he be reaped in the lead up to the reaping for the 75th Hunger Games.

Quarter Quells

Main article: Quarter Quell

Previous District 2 victors, Brutus and Enobaria are reaped for the 75th Hunger Games.

Every 25 years, the tributes were chosen in an alternate manner as part of a special, quarter-century iteration of the Hunger Games known as the Quarter Quell. These special Hunger Games are held to keep the memory for holding the Games fresh with the populace, whilst adding a notable twist to the regular proceeding of the Games related to the actions of the rebels during the First Rebellion. The instructions for the specific year of the Quell were specified inside a special envelope read by the president ahead of the reaping for these particular Hunger Games. The following were the special rules for the reaping of each held Quarter Quell:

  • For the 25th Hunger Games, the First Quarter Quell, the districts voted on the tributes who were to be reaped.
  • For the 50th Hunger Games, the Second Quarter Quell, twice the amount of tributes, two males and two females, were reaped for the Games.
  • For the 75th Hunger Games, the Third Quarter Quell, the tributes were reaped from the existing pool of victors. For this Quarter Quell, it is widely believed that the original rules for these Games were changed, as part of an effort to force Katniss Everdeen, District 12's only living female victor, to participate again for her actions at the end of the 74th Hunger Games.[5] As such, the original rules for these Games, if they exist, remain unknown.

Trivia

  • For the 10th Hunger Games, the reaping was scheduled on July 4th, which is Independence Day in the United States. It is suggested that this date is the same each year.[6]

References

  1. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 2
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Hunger Games, Chapter 1
  3. The Hunger Games film
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Hunger Games, Chapter 2
  5. Catching Fire, Chapter 12
  6. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 1
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