Feast of Middle-earth


This past Saturday, Hannah and Susanna, with much help from many friends, hosted a Feast of Middle-earth for about 30 friends of theirs who are lovers of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Feast of Middle-earth, 2011
Fellowship of the Feast (photo by Joshua Martin)

A Feast of Middle-earth offers a wonderful opportunity for a festive, end-of-summer occasion. We’ve organized one 5 times over the years, and Candace and I have enjoyed it every bit as much as our kids. Activities past or present have included:

  • Names in Elvish: everyone gets a name tag with their name translated into Quenya.
  • Dress in costumes!
  • Costumes

  • Outdoor games such as “Catch the Dragon’s tail” or “Bill Ferny’s Apple throwing contest.” In the former, about ten people get in line with hands on the waist of the person in front. The last person in line tucks a handkerchief in his back pocket. At the signal, the dragon begins to chase its tail like a puppy – the first person in line tries to catch the handkerchief. The people toward the front try to help the head catch the tail, the people toward the back try to help the tail escape, but no one can let go of the waist of the person in front of them. When the dragon “head” catches the handkerchief, the “head” becomes the new “tail” and the person who was second from the front becomes the new “head.” For extra fun, create two or more dragons and they all can catch any dragon’s tail, including their own. You can imagine many similar outdoor fun games!
  • Dancing in Elvish and Hobbit styles.
  • Sword fighting lessons and tournament.
  • Archery instruction and target practice.
  • Display Tolkien memorabilia of all kinds, and share our own Tolkien-inspired art and crafts.
  • Tolkien Trivia group contest.
  • Scavenger hunt – think up riddles about Middle-earth places for groups to solve, and then each group will search for clues at the places in the yard or house decorated in that manner.
  • Prancing Pony
    The Prancing Pony. Rachel drew this sign for a Middle-earth Feast scavenger hunt back in 2002, I think. Here’s the clue that led people to this sign during that scavenger hunt: “Beds for four, and stabling for five ponies, if that can be managed.”

  • Storytelling: Rebecca read dramatically the lay of Beren and Luthien this year.
  • Storytelling

  • Singing and music: Sarah played an original hammered dulcimer composition. Other songs: Donald Swann song cycle “The Road Goes Ever On and On”; “Smaug the Magic Dragon” from The Tolkien Scrapbook edited by Alida Becker; “Bilbo’s Last Song” by Stephen Oliver.
  • The Feast itself offers many opportunities to get creative with mushrooms, lembas, rabbit stew, etc. Thanks to Brian for bringing the delicious stag venison this year – or was it oliphant?
  • In the Rivendell Library, Middle-earth residents may browse at their leisure, look up old lore, and research at will – even perhaps find long-forgotten clues to the history of the ring.
  • Rivendell Library

But this year, Hannah made the mistake of asking me to give the opening prayer, and so the professor in me came up with a liturgy to be read responsively. She gave me the opening, and I took it! (Download a pdf.)

Feast Middle earth liturgy2

My prayer is in green, interspersed with related quotes from Tolkien. I expected a few groans at its length, but everyone was utterly polite and I think some even liked it!

In any case, it helped to justify the laying out of Tolkien’s works for perusal in Rivendell Library (our living room), where we kept a playlist in iTunes running all evening so we could listen to Tolkien himself reciting poems and stories from his writings.

Preparing Gandalf
Preparing Gandalf

Gandalf prepared
Gandalf the wise. Photo by Joshua Martin.

Ladies of Middle-earth
Ladies of Rohan and Rivendell. Photo by Joshua Martin.

Legolas fits his bow.  Photo by Joshua Martin.
Legolas fits his bow. Photo by Joshua Martin.

Baby Oliphant
Baby Oliphant (sign by Susanna)

Decoration with Christmas lights
Decorate the yard with Christmas tree lights. Photo by Joshua Martin.

Many more great photos are in Joshua Martin’s Facebook album, “Feast of Middle-earth.”

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6 Responses to Feast of Middle-earth

  1. Hannah says:

    It was a wonderful feast!!!! And I like the idea of Catch the Dragon’s Tail, we’ll have to do that next year! We did something similar the first year, but I like what you wrote best, we’ll have to try it out. 🙂 Thanks Daddy for everything, prayer and liturgy included!!

  2. kvmagruder says:

    Hannah, thanks so much for organizing the feast this year! (And for having such great friends to help out.) The Dragon’s Tail is a game I thought you all did – I found it described in your Feast notebook of 2002, so I got the idea from you! 🙂 Thanks, Hannah – and Susanna, Brian, Rebecca, Nathaniel, Benjamin, Nick, Dotty, and everyone else who helped organize, set up and clean up! You guys did an amazing job!

  3. Candace says:

    Oh, what feasting, merriment, games of skill, and dancing under the stars were enjoyed by representatives from all the Free Peoples of Middle Earth—Hobbits, Elves, Men (from both Rohan and Gondor), and even a lady Dwarf (with the beard to prove it!). Gandalf the White designed our lovely outdoor lighting (the next best thing to fireworks). We did have that one Dark Rider show up on his clippity-clopping horse (thanks to Monty Python), but he was welcome, too, because he was just a nice guy under that sinister cape. Oh, and an artist from Weta Workshop dropped by, too! Nick did an awesome job creating many of the costumes. I echo Kerry’s thanks to all who contributed toward making it a delightful evening. May you enjoy the peace of Rivendell all your days.

  4. Laura says:

    This looks like SO much fun! I loved seeing all the photos, too. And Kerry, I love the professor in you. 😀

  5. Pingback: Merry Christmas 2011 | Kerry's loft

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