Enthusiasts of the extensive bibliography of J.R.R. Tolkien find today one of their favorite days of the entire year because it is Tolkien Reading Day, celebrated every March 25. Fans around the world reach for their favorite Tolkien literary works to reread the books, discuss them with friends, and escape the ho-hum world here on Earth for the otherworldly, magical land of Middle-earth.
History of Tolkien Reading Day
The Tolkien Society established Tolkien Reading Day in 2003 after Sean Kirst, a newspaper columnist in Syracuse, New York, suggested the holiday. The purpose of the observance is to honor the vast literary work of John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien, father of the high fantasy genre, and to encourage educators and library groups to advance Tolkien reading in their communities and ensure people have access to his works.
March 25 was chosen as the date to celebrate annually because it marks the date of Sauron’s defeat, a key evil character in “Lord of the Rings.” Kirst has organized Tolkien Reading Day every year since 2008.
Tolkien’s popularity grew to cult status even before his death in 1973. The ‘Tolkienist’ fanatic subculture emerged in the U.S. in the 1960s as the popularity of “Lord of the Rings” catapulted following its publication between 1954 and 1955. The first fan club, known as ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ met for the first time at Worldcon, the World Science Fiction Convention, in 1960.
Tolkien’s work influenced many authors in the high fantasy genre but it also inspired modern-day, pop-cultural elements such as games (board games, video games, card games), music, action figures, jewelry, clothing, and even fonts you can use in your own writing. Why not write that letter or presentation for work in the Elven Common Speak font? Hopefully, these ideas and more below will inspire your own Tolkien Reading Day celebration!
Tolkien Reading Day timeline
A classic in children’s literature, this fantasy novel has never been out of print.
Following “The Hobbit,” this high-fantasy novel became one of the best-selling books of all time with over 150 million copies sold.
A book of 16 poems Tolkien wrote including characters from “The Lord of The Rings” is published.
A 12-volume series of books is published between 1983 and 1996 presenting Tolkien’s development of Middle-earth over time.
Tolkien Reading Day FAQs
How many languages did Tolkien speak?
Tolkien had a deep love for languages. He could speak English, Old English, Latin, German, and Finnish, among others, to varying degrees of proficiency. In his literature, he created numerous fictitious languages. Two, in particular, Quenya and Sindarin, were detailed enough to include songs and poems and could be used to carry on rather extensive conversations.
Did Tolkien win a Nobel Prize for literature?
Tolkien’s friend, C. S. Lewis nominated Tolkien for a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1961, however, one of the members of the Nobel jury wrote that Tolkien’s work “has not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality.”
Was Tolkien married?
Yes, Tolkien met and fell in love with Edith Bratt when he was only 16. Several years later, they married and remained married until Edith’s death in 1971. Tolkien was known as a romantic and requested the gravestone they share to be engraved with the names of star-crossed lovers depicted in both “The Silmarillion” and “The Lord of the Rings,” Beren and Luthien.
Tolkien Reading Day Activities
Listen to a Tolkien podcast
Many Tolkien lovers have started their own blogs and/or podcasts to talk about everything Tolkien. Share their enthusiasm for Tolkien’s literature with these currently active podcasts: “That’s What I’m Tolkien About,” “Tea with Tolkien” or “The Tolkien Road.”
Play a little Tolkien trivia
Everyone loves a good trivia competition and this can be enjoyed virtually if needed. You’ll find over 300 quizzes on Tolkien on the internet.
Host a viewing party
Invite fellow Tolkien lovers over for movie night showing one of the episodes in either “The Hobbit” or “Lord of the Rings” series. Up the fun factor by asking them to come dressed up as their favorite movie character.
5 Literary Contributions By Tolkien
Oxford English Dictionary
After World War I, Tolkien worked at the Oxford English Dictionary where he wrote about things such as the history and etymology of Germanic words starting with the letter W, specifically ‘waggle’ to ‘warlock.’
University of Leeds
In 1920, Tolkien joined the University of Leeds as a Reader in English Language, becoming a full professor only a couple of years later.
“Letters from Father Christmas”
Published posthumously, this work was a compilation of numerous letters that Tolkien wrote to his children from 1920 to 1943 from Father Christmas, a.k.a. Santa Claus.
Also published posthumously, this collection of Tolkien’s work was compiled by his son, Christopher Tolkien in 1977 and received the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel in 1978.
“Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary”
Tolkien wrote his translation of the epic poem “Beowulf” from 1920 to 1926 — decades later, his son Christopher edited and published it in 2014.
Why We Love Tolkien Reading Day
It gives us a reason to read Tolkien
Fanatics can immerse themselves in the literary works of Tolkien completely guilt-free and share their passion with other avid readers.
It transports us to fantasy worlds
The popularity of fantasy movies and books has dramatically increased in the last decade. Readers and viewers are drawn to the out-of-this-world stories of fantasy, in part, because it allows them to escape the real world in which they live. We are drawn to magic, illusion, and wizardry and Tolkien delivered fantastical masterpieces in this regard.
We celebrate a creator
Tolkien contributed more than the average author in that he was as much a creator as a writer. With his fantasy, he meticulously created languages, intricate characters, and places detailed by maps and calendars that linked volumes and times together.
Tolkien Reading Day dates