I nearly forgot to wish everyone a Happy Hobbit Day.
Hobbit Day is September 22, the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. In the book, Bilbo celebrates his eleventy-first birthday and Frodo his thirty-third, the day hobbits come of age.
How to celebrate? First, go barefoot. If you have hair on your toes, all the better. Give presents to others (hobbits give away presents on their birthdays). Also, get together with friends for a feast of “several meals at which it snow(s) food and rain(s) drink.” And, of course, read some Tolkien (notice I said read, not watch the films).
Here’s a snippet from Chapter I of The Fellowship of the Ring, to get you started:
When every guest had been welcomed and was finally inside the gate, there were songs, dances, music, games, and, of course, food and drink. There were three official meals: lunch, tea, and dinner (or supper). But lunch and tea were marked chiefly by the fact that all the guests were sitting down and eating together. At other times there were merely lots of people eating and drinking…. There were many Bagginses and Boffins, and also many Tooks and Brandybucks; there were various Grubbs (relations of Bilbo Baggins’ grandmother), and various Chubbs (connexions of his Took grandfather); and a selection of Burrowses, Bolgers, Bracegirdles, Brockhouses, Goodbodies, Hornblowers and Proudfoots…. The guests were not disappointed: they had a very pleasant feast, in fact and engrossing entertainment: rich, abundant, varied, and prolonged.
The story gets much darker than that, in fact very quickly. But one of its themes is that sometimes, some of us go to dark places and do harrowing things, to preserve what we left behind, even if we can’t entirely go back to it. Frodo saved the Shire, “but not for me,” leaving it for his friend Samwise to “keep alive the memory of the age that is gone, so that people will remember the Great Danger and so love their beloved land all the more.”
But forget all that. Enjoy Hobbit Day, what there is left of it. Meanwhile, Bilbo sings:
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
and I must follow if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.