When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a part of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.
September 22 is the shared birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, and all over the world, Tolkien-lovers are celebrating in all sorts of ways, all of them no doubt including food. It would be lovely if we could get dragon-shaped firecrackers as well, but alas, that’s not to be had in my area this time of year. But one’s appetite is available all year. There are plenty of examples of meals in the text itself, but if you need a boost, there’s a fun recipe site sponsored by Warner Brothers, and a thorough if unattractive recipe index here.
I myself have always been charmed by the idea of giving other people presents to celebrate one’s own birthday. “Not very expensive ones, as a rule,” Tolkien writes, “and not so lavishly as on [the] occasion [of Bilbo’s birthday party]; but it was not a bad system. Actually in Hobbiton and Bywater every day in the year it was somebody’s birthday, so that every hobbit in those parts had a fair chance of at least one present at least once a week. But they never got tired of them.” Now, I can’t give you a feast (doesn’t mail well), and, regrettably, I need all of my silver spoons, umbrellas, inkwells, and other personalized mathoms. However, I do have this book thingy I wrote. It talks about the connection between the characters in The Lord of the Rings and their environment. It’s not exactly everyone’s idea of a party, but given that Tolkien was an Oxford don, I think it’s perfectly appropriate to celebrate with this book. SO– if YOU would like a FREE copy of my new book, leave a comment below describing your favorite scene from The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit (don’t get pretentious as talk about The Silmarillion. It’s Hobbit Day, not Elf Snobbery Day), or what your ideal Hobbit meal would consist of, or what kinds of fireworks you’d like at your eleventy-first birthday, or something else properly hobbit-y.
It is also, if I may be allowed to refer to ancient history, the anniversary of my arrival by barrel at Esgaroth on the Long Lake; though the fact that it was my birthday slipped my memory on that occasion. I was only fifty-one then, and birthdays did not seem so important. The banquet was very splendid, however, though I had a bad cold at the time, I remember, and could only say ‘thag you very buch.’ I now repeat it more correctly: Thank you very much for coming to my little party.