This post contains spoilers for both the book and film versions of The Lord of the Rings.
March 25th is Tolkien Reading Day, because that’s the day J. R. R. Tolkien gave for the climactic event of his epic fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings, when the One Ring went into the fire and the Dark Lord Sauron was defeated, and his Dark Tower of Barad-dûr was utterly destroyed. The holiday was started in 2003 by the Tolkien Society, in their own words: “to encourage fans to celebrate and promote the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien by reading favourite passages.” Every year on this day libraries all over the world host related events, with good reason, but as much as I’m a bibliophile I can’t totally exclude any of the movies based on his works from my own celebrations, so I’ll be re-watching the Peter Jackson films as well.
But there’s also a good reason for me to do so. As my most loyal readers may recall, I started re-reading The Lord of the Rings in its entirety back in September of last year, renewing an annual tradition I once shared with my namesake Christopher Lee (R.I.P.), but over the years mostly abandoned except for a few abortive attempts. It wasn’t so much that I had less time to read than I do now (thanks to the pandemic). Rather I blame the internet, and especially, smart phones. Too many things were competing for my attention, I guess. But even though as a result of this the Peter Jackson films became more familiar to me than the books on which they were based, now that I’m reacquainting myself with the original text I find it worthwhile to keep watching the movie trilogy over and over again for purposes of comparison, and then sometimes to blog about it, if I think it’s worth doing so.
This year is also special because my sister has decided that March 25th will be an extension of her birthday festivities (over the years we’ve both tended to expand our birthdays into month long celebrations which as we get older threaten increasingly to be the death of us due to heavy alcohol consumption). I’m not exactly sure of everything she has planned, but I know that Second Breakfast will consist of tomatoes, sausages, and nice crispy bacon. We’ll also bake bread, and as an extension of last week’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, I plan on making colcannon, so we’ll get some taters in there as well.
As for the reading aspect of the celebration, I’ve got that all planned out. Inspired by Burns Night, I will be reciting some of Tolkien’s poetry as well as playing songs on YouTube of his poems set to music (for a few examples, see the playlist I made for Hobbit Day last year). I hope you’ll join us, whether you’re new to Tolkien or not. You can use the hashtag #TolkienReadingDay or #TolkienReadingDay2022. But even if you don’t join us on social media, I think one thing the pandemic has shown us is that we can gain a sense of connection with others of like mind just from participating in these sorts of events on our own, even if we’re not actively engaging in some sort of social activity, whether virtual or IRL, just by knowing that millions of fans all over the world are celebrating the same thing at the same time. So in that spirit, once again I say happy Tolkien Reading Day!
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