Hobbits and Christmas
"With Christmas soon here (and remarkably - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey too), I had a spent a few moments thinking about what Christmas is like for those hobbits of Middle-earth…
Despite the best efforts of most supermarkets, toy shops, and so on, Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus – not the giving and receiving of gifts (although the giving and receiving of gifts is a splendid benefit that comes with Christmas). This is a tricky situation, as I’m pretty sure that Middle-earth has no churches and had no Jesus (although Sir Ian McKellen does come close – or perhaps not – as it is well known that Sir Ian is an atheist) – so this destroys any idea of Christmas in Middle-earth.
So, with the exception of the lack of a divine, virgin birth – what would Christmas be like for the Halflings of The Shire?
The first question would be when would Christmas be? On earth, we celebrate Christmas towards the end of December as everyone knows. Luckily for us, the first and last days of each year in The Shire were Yule days, when great celebrating and partying would occur. The first day of Yule would always be Highday (Friday), with the second as Sterday or Saturday. Similarly to the Christmas period, the whole period of Yule would last six days.
As per our Christmas celebrations, there would be lots of good grub – and those hobbits do enjoy their food! Second breakfasts are the norm, along with elevenses, and early lunch and so on. You can imagine those little furry feet tapping with excitement at the thought of munching on Beorn’s honey cake and lembas bread, washed down with copious amounts Barliman’s Best (yes – it comes in pints) and then to liven things up, perhaps a glug or two of Ent-Draught (which might lead to some hobbits waking up taller than they were the day before).
It’s well known that hobbits love the giving and receiving of gifts. Hobbits have the slightly strange tradition of the hobbit whose birthday it is, giving gifts to others. I initially thought this was because those friendly hobbits were such cheerful, giving creatures. Alas, I imagine this is partly because a hobbit only gets one birthday per year, whereas there’s most likely a birthday every day of the year for some hobbit or another, which means that most hobbits should hopefully get more than one present a week.
So, to wrap everything up… Hobbits love to party (as we know with Bilbo’s Long Awaited Party). Those little fellows love to eat and drink and are especially big fans of the old giving and receiving of presents and gifts. You can just imagine the gathering together of the hobbits to celebrate Yule… Young hobbits squabbling and causing mayhem. Older hobbits drinking ale, smoking pipeweed and chatting away whilst munching on good solid grub, before dozing off occasionally…
Tolkien alludes to this, when he talks about the hobbits, “And laugh they did, and eat, and drink, often and heartily, being fond of simple jests at all times, and of six meals a day (when they could get them). They were hospitable and delighted in parties, and in presents, which they gave away freely and eagerly accepted.”
Sounds like my kind of Christmas party… "