The reaping is a form of lottery that occurs every year before the Hunger Games. While the reaping appears to be mere entertainment, it is a very vicious and brutal event that brings worry and fear to all of the 12 Districts of Panem.

The Definitive Glossary for The Hunger Games

Every year, the reaping decides the tributes that are sent to participate in the Hunger Games. The reaping is treated as a celebratory event, even though it spells disaster for several households across Panem.

What is the Reaping?

The reaping is an annual event held by the Capitol to decide the participants of the Hunger Games. It is a widely televised event that takes place on July 4th, the Independence Day of the United States.

How the Reaping Works

Children from the districts aged between 12 to 18 are eligible to participate in the Hunger Games. Once a child reaches 12 years of age, their names are entered into the reaping. The entries are cumulative. Thus, by the time a child is 18 years old, their name is in the reaping at least 7 times. This number can increase depending upon the number of times a child signs up for tesserae.

The reaping takes place in the center of town, which is the Hall of Justice in District 12. The names of the children are divided into two glass balls according to their gender. The escort for each district picks a name from each ball, thereby providing 2 tributes for The Hunger Games from each district. Often, Capitol citizens and Peacekeepers place bets on the outcome of the reaping. As the Capitol intended, most families go home and celebrate after the reaping, except for the two families whose children have been picked as tributes.

Rules of the Reaping

Every eligible child must attend the reaping. The only excuse for absence is if a child is on their deathbed. Katniss notes that this was a way for the Capitol to keep a check on the youth of the districts. 

On the day of the reaping, the children are divided into age groups and cordoned off in the town square. The event is treated as a highly anticipated and celebratory event, and it is mandatory for the citizens of the nation to watch the reaping.


Volunteering for The Hunger Games is allowed during the reaping. This is a common practice in the career districts, i.e., Districts 1, 2, and 4, where children train their whole lives to participate in the Hunger Games. Sometimes, if there is more than one volunteer, a fight (occasionally to the death) determines which person would take the prestigious place as tribute in the Hunger Games. 

Volunteering for The Hunger Games is not common in the other districts of Panem. When it does happen, however, people volunteer for reasons other than those that are seen in the career districts. Katniss Everdeen, for instance, volunteers as a tribute, when her sister is reaped in the 74th Hunger Games, in an attempt to protect her.


After the First Rebellion, the Treaty of Treason was passed in Panem. The treaty set out the rules for the Hunger Games which were created for two main objectives. The first is to entertain the citizens of the Capitol and the second is to keep the districts in an oppressed state. The best way to fulfill both objectives is to hold an annual reaping – to pick the tributes for The Hunger Games. 

Initially, the reaping was not televised. However, by the time Katniss Everdeen is 16 years old, the reaping is widely televised and broadcast across the whole nation of Panem.

The Mayor of each district was originally in charge of the district’s reaping. However, before the 10th Hunger Games, the Mayor rigged the reaping to draw the name of Lucy Gray Baird, a rival of the Mayor’s daughter. After this, the Capitol began sending escorts to take care of the reaping instead.


Tessera is a voluntary food ration that is offered by the government of Panem to district residents. Tessera ensures a year’s supply of grain and oil for one person. While the grain that is received is dark, dense, and unrefined, it is nutritious enough to survive. Children who are eligible for The Hunger Games can sign up for tessera as many times as the members of the family. However, in exchange, the child would have to enter their name in the Hunger Games an additional time for every tessera claimed. This dramatically increases that chance of being reaped at the Reaping.

Quarter Quell

Every 25th year, the rules of the reaping are changed. This is known as the Quarter Quell – which deals a more devastating blow to the people of the districts than the normal Hunger Games. For instance, in the 25th Hunger Games, the people of the districts voted for the tributes at the reaping. In the 50th Hunger Games, each district had to send 4 tributes instead of 2. In the 75th Hunger Games, the tributes were reaped from the existing pool of victors in each district.


What is the reaping in the Hunger Games?

The reaping is an annual event held by the Capitol to choose the tributes for the upcoming Hunger Games from each district.

Was the Hunger Games reaping rigged?

No one knows for sure whether the Hunger Games reaping was rigged or not. There is a chance, however, that tributes were picked as punishment for their misdemeanors against the mayors of the districts. This is why the Capitol began to send escorts instead.

Why does the Capitol hold the reaping and the Hunger Games every year?

The Capitol holds the reaping and the Hunger Games every year to show the districts that they are completely at the Capitol’s mercy.

Why is Gale’s name in the reaping 42 times?

The entries for the Hunger Games are cumulative. This means that by the time Gale was 18 years old, his name was entered 7 times. He also entered his name many more times in exchange for tesserae or food rations for his family. This is why his name is in the reaping 42 times before the 74th Hunger Games.

How many times is Katniss’s name entered into the reaping?

Katniss’ name was entered 20 times into the reaping when she was 16 years old.

How long is in between the reaping and the Hunger Games?

The Hunger Games takes place just a few days after the reaping. When Katniss was chosen as tribute, the time between the reaping and The Hunger Games was 6 days.

Why did Katniss want to save Peeta in the reaping?

Katniss believes that Peeta, because of his selfless and kind-hearted personality, deserves to live. This is why she wishes to save Peeta in the reaping for the 75th Hunger Games.

On what date is the reaping in the Hunger Games held on?

The reaping is held on July 4th every year. July 4th is currently celebrated as Independence Day in the United States.

Why does the Capitol call it the Reaping?

The Capitol believes that the districts are reaping what they sowed during the first rebellion. This is why it is called the “Reaping.” The name is also ironic since the word reaping is usually used in a positive sense during harvest time.

Who draws the names at the Reaping?

The names at the Reaping are drawn by the escort that is assigned to a particular district. In the case of District 12, the names are drawn by Effie Trinket.

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