JRR Tolkien Day – January 3, 2020

Fri Jan 3

J.R.R. Tolkien Day on January 3 is “The Lord of the Rings” author’s birthday and you’re encouraged to toast him in celebration. You may remember from the story that Frodo toasts his Uncle Bilbo on Bilbo’s birthday every year. Now, over sixty years after the trilogy’s original publication, The Tolkien Society asks fans to honor Tolkien’s birth, which itself was January 3, 1892. Come up with a few words of adulation on your own, or use the official Society phrase: “The Professor!” If you want to celebrate J.R.R. Tolkien Day with a few extra meals in addition to the toast, in true hobbit fashion, Frodo would certainly approve!

History of JRR Tolkien Day

Aside from the fact that “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” directly influenced the entire fantasy genre and opened the door for the creativity of writers like David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Ursula K. LeGuin, among many more, many critics describe Tolkien’s magnum opus as an allegory combining the horrors of World War I with the sweeping societal change of pastoral life’s gradual crumbling under the weight of industrialism. Respectively, think of the sweeping battle scenes in LOTR, and then the hazy summer of the Shire compared with the blighted, tree-bare landscape of Saruman’s domain.

The clash of these opposing worldviews and the way Tolkien masterfully depicted it, amplified by the series of Peter Jackson films and their visual splendor, make it no surprise that the Tolkien Society, founded in 1969, is still around today.

The author interacted with the Society in its early days, his assistant phoning their leadership in 1972 after they sent him a container of top-shelf tobacco in honor of his becoming a Commander of the Order of the British Empire; she said that he’d considered the gift to be the highest honor of the whole to-do.

Of course, it was the Tolkien Society that declared their commitment to publicly celebrate Tolkien’s birthday with a toast each year on January 3. So after breakfast is out of the way, along with “second breakfast” and “elevensies,” lunch, and a puff of Longbottom Leaf, have a friend over and drink to the juggernaut of fantasy fiction. The professor!

JRR Tolkien Day timeline

1957
Accolades

“The Lord of the Rings” is given the International Fantasy Award.

1954
Seeing print

“The Lord of the Rings” is published by Houghton Mifflin in the U.S.

1949
If ever there was a time for a sip…

Tolkien pushes back from his desk, the original incarnation of the trilogy officially finished.

1937
“In a hole in the ground…”

“The Hobbit” is released and is honored with a nomination for the Carnegie Medal.

JRR Tolkien Day FAQs

Is there a Lord of the Rings Day?

There’s a Hobbit Day, which falls on September 22.

How did Tolkien die?

Sadly the great author died in September 1973 from a stomach ulcer.

How old is Frodo?

Frodo is 33-years-old at the birthday party at the beginning of Lord of the Rings.

HOW TO CELEBRATE J.R.R. TOLKIEN DAY

  1. Read the books, or watch the movies or both

    The best way to celebrate J.R.R. Tolkien Day is to read one of the classic books. If you’ve never read “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, that’s a good place to start. Granted, you probably won’t be able to read all three books in one day. So cheat a little and watch one of the movies instead, or if you have the entire day to celebrate, maybe tackle all three!

  2. Eat a few extra meals or snacks

    Hobbits certainly enjoy a good meal … or half a dozen meals. As the book says, hobbits would “enjoy six meals a day, if they could get them.” And the great thing about these pint-sized powerhouses is that they will eat just about anything that tastes good, so your extra meals can involve just about anything you like: cakes, bread, and ale, it’s all fair game. It’s a good thing hobbits aren’t worried about counting carbs!

  3. Work the words “my precious” into every conversation

    Gollum may be one of the creepiest characters in all of Middle Earth — heck, maybe in all of literature — but his referring to “the ring” as “my precious” is classic. So spend the day calling everything in sight “my precious”: your wedding ring, your spouse, your vehicle, the stapler on your desk, it doesn’t matter. Just be careful around the edges of any volcanic chasms…

FIVE AMAZING FACTS ABOUT THE FILMING OF THE “RINGS” MOVIES (GG):

  1. Taking a hike

    Sean Bean, “Boromir” in the films, is deathly afraid of flying, so he took to walking to locations in the early morning, which he had to do in full makeup and costume since there were no tents nor personnel for those things on-site at his destinations.

  2. Second fiddle?

    Irish actor Stuart Townsend (“Queen of the Damned,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”) was originally cast as “Aragorn,” and when he was cut loose at the last minute, Viggo Mortensen was chosen, the seasoned actor accepting the role only because of his LOTR-fan son’s pleading.

  3. Don’t take your eyes off the screen

    Like the late Stan Lee in Marvel Comics movies, writer-director Peter Jackson has cameos in each of the three “Rings” films, and so do each of his children.

  4. Moth-man prophecy?

    The species of moth used in the shots of Gandalf summoning his insect ally whilst prisoner at the top of Orthanc only lives one day; it was born that morning and died right after the first successful take.

  5. “Don’t call me short”

    Ironically, John Rhys-Davies, who played the dwarf “Gimli” in the trilogy, was the tallest actor on the set, at six-foot-one.

WHY WE LOVE J.R.R. TOLKIEN DAY

  1. It’s a reminder that no obstacle is too tough

    The journeys and challenges described in Tolkien’s books are unforgettable for many reasons, but the idea of a group of people working together to complete a goal is just plain inspirational. Perhaps you aren’t doing anything quite as important as saving the world from evil, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from some inspiration in your everyday life.

  2. You can discover a new book

    Although Tolkien is best known for “The Lord of the Rings,” he wrote several other books (some of them novel-length background stories of “Rings” characters), as well as scholarly papers. Tolkien’s son contributed to and published a few more of Tolkien’s writings after his death. So no matter what, there’s plenty more to unearth.

  3. The “little guy” wins

    The little guy winning is a common theme in literature. But there aren’t many “littler” guys in books than hobbits. And even though the hobbits in Tolkien’s books don’t really have any uncommon strength or special powers like the wizards and elves do, they still manage to be heroic, making tough choices and saving the day. Observe J.R.R. Tolkien Day by celebrating the victory of the underdog.

JRR Tolkien Day dates

YearDateDay
2020January 3Friday
2021January 3Sunday
2022January 3Monday
2023January 3Tuesday
2024January 3Wednesday