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How to Properly Celebrate a Hobbit Birthday

Today is J.R.R. Tolkien's birthday, and in his honor here's how to throw the best Hobbit Birthday ever

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Gandalf’s fireworks were far better of course. Image: davidmonro

January 3rd was J.R.R. Tolkien’s birthday, and in his honor, we’ve put together instructions on how to throw the best Hobbit Birthday ever.

First, we have the official advice for the producers of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Next, play Pin the Ring on Bilbo made by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:

Then, make sure you have lots and lots of food. Here’s WikiHow on How to Celebrate Hobbit day (these are the same foods at listed in the guide above, but food is very important to hobbits, so you must be sure to get it right):

  • Mushrooms (these are favorite hobbit food and Farmer Maggot used to grow them and Frodo got caught trying to steal some)
  • Wine (Bilbo and Frodo both inherited vineyards); beer is also popular with hobbits
  • Hot soup
  • Cold meats, mince pies, pork pies, rabbit, fish and chips, rashers of bacon
  • Blackberry tarts and other blackberry foods (including uncooked blackberries)
  • Freshly baked bread and lots of butter
  • Pickles are often mentioned
  • Ripe cheese
  • Food made from vegetables such as corn, turnips, carrots, potatoes and onions
  • Food made with apples, such as apple tart (with raspberry jam)
  • Honey (foods made with honey such as honey cakes would be nice)
  • Scones (known as “biscuits” in North America), fruit pies, and cakes of any kind, including seed cakes
  • Pinwheel sandwiches (just because these are small and cute and the hobbits may have approved provided they weren’t too fussy)
  • Tea and coffee.
    • Keep seasonings and sauces to a minimum; apparently hobbits didn’t bother with them that much.

Finally, give other people presents. Yes, other people. It’s Hobbit tradition to give gifts to others on their birthdays. Here’s Tolkien on the subject:

Receiving of gifts: this was an ancient ritual connected with kinship. It was in origin a recognition of the byrding’s membership of a family or clan, and a commemoration of his formal ‘incorporation’. No present was given by father or mother to their children on their (the children’s) birthdays (except in the rare cases of adoption); but the reputed head of the family was supposed to give something, if only in ‘token’.

Giving gifts: was a personal matter, not limited to kinship. It was a form of ‘thanksgiving’, and taken as a recognition of services, benefits, and friendship shown, especially in the past year.

A trace of this can be seen in the account of Sméagol and Déagol – modified by the individual characters of these rather miserable specimens. Déagol, evidently a relative (as no doubt all the members of the small community were), had already given his customary present to Sméagol, although they probably set out on their expedition v. early in the morning. Being a mean little soul he grudged it. Sméagol, being meaner and greedier, tried to use the ‘birthday’ as an excuse for an act of tyranny Because I wants it’ was his frank statement of his chief claim. But he also implied that D’s gift was a poor and insufficient token: hence D’s retort that on the contrary it was more than he could afford.

With that, have a very happy birthday Tolkien—and thanks for all the adventures.

More from Smithsonian.com:

The Hobbit You Grew Up With Isn’t Quite the Same As the Original, Published 75 Years Ago Today
If Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit Looks Weird to You, Blame the Guy Who Created Oakley Sunglasses

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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