The Schmooze

Happy Hobbit Day, the Jewish Way

Every year, a great day dawns on Middle Earth. I’m speaking of course, of September 22 — Hobbit Day, for those who didn’t grow up on a steady diet of tales of rings, angry wizards, and small creatures with big feet.

According to “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings,” both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins are said to be born on September 22, though on different years (Bilbo in the year of 2890 and Frodo in the year 2968 in the Third Age —  yes, I looked it up. This is, sadly, not knowledge I carry in my brain at all times).

In addition to celebrating two of the Shire’s most adventurous citizens, Hobbit Day also launches Tolkien Week, celebrated every year since it was launched in 1978 by the American Tolkien Society.

Which brings us to the Jewish connexion. No, Frodo and Bilbo are not secret Jews (believe me, I tried to make that theory work). And as Seth Rogovoy pointed out in his review of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”: “Sometimes, a bearded, money-grubbing dwarf is just a bearded, money-grubbing dwarf and not an evil, anti-Semitic stand-in for Jews.”

But J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of Middle Earth, Elvish, Sauron and the One Ring, was something of a Judeophile. When asked to provide verification of his Aryan status for a German publisher that wanted to put out a German translation of his work, Tolkien refused:

Describing the incident to a friend, he wrote:

And so, on this most auspicious of days, we here at the Forward wish Frodo and Bilbo Baggins a very happy birthday! (Pro-tip: If you want to celebrate in a quiet and non-life threatening way, maybe make sure Gandalf’s invite gets lost on the way)

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Happy Hobbit Day, the Jewish Way

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