Well, what a nice surprise, I received an invitation to a party! And we all know how hobbits feel about a party and I’m no exception.
It was an attractive invitation and I went to the local scholar to find out more. He told me:
In a broad, open field in Hobbiton, not far from Bag End, there stands a majestic tree, taller than any within sight for miles. The Party Tree, as it is called by the Hobbits, is a gathering place for merriment, eating, and storytelling, where all Shire-folk are warmly welcomed. It was here that Bilbo Baggins celebrated his magnificent birthday (his eleventy-first), and it was from this location that some say he simply vanished from sight forever. Few are certain of the Tree’s origins, and even fewer actually give its history a second thought. The Party Tree is decorated year-round with bright lanterns and yards of colourful woven streamers, for it seems logical to all Hobbits that a decorated tree is reason enough for a celebration — why risk missing the opportunity for a feast by bringing down the festive arrangements? Besides, it’s far too tall these days for Hobbits to reach the limbs, even if one had a mind to.
For those not in the know, The Party Tree is one of the best known landmarks in the Shire. Towering over the surrounding field and offering a nice shady place to meet friends, exchange stories, and trade goods, The Party Tree is a landmark that hobbits are able to see from great distances and is an important social centre for the Shire.
The Festival itself celebrates both the ending of the gathering of the harvest and a local custom of Mischief Night. Similar celebrations take place, I’m informed, in Bree, Duillond and Thorin’s Gate. Possibly I might get to the Bree festivities but as for the others, I have no idea how to get to those places on foot nor of the distances involved.
On arrival at The Party Tree, I found a great many hobbits as well as Elves, Dwarves and Men gathered enjoying the festivities. Immediately catching my eye was a dance instructor teaching some hobbit dances. I wasted no time and signed up and was soon jigging and reeling with the others. We must have made a comical sight (and I swear I saw a dwarf trip over his own beard and come crashing down) but soon we were making a passable impression of the moves taught us. Or, possibly, the ale consumed between dances led us to believe so.
Feeling a little peckish, I moved on to the next stall where apple bobbing was available. Oooh, that is difficult and pretty soon I was soaked through with just a couple of small apples for my trouble. Still, all that water in the face had sobered me up a little.
I ate my apples while chatting to a charming hobbit who represented a group called The Inn League. It seems that they are an organisation dedicated to fine wines and ales – quality over quantity as he put it, unlike those coarse dwarves with their Ale Association. I gathered there had been some friction between the two groups with dark mutterings of sabotage, theft and, indeed, violence. Remembering my encounter with Twobeers, I wondered if their might be some truth to the stories as he did seem capable of anything in his pursuit of alcoholic refreshment!
But, you know, hobbits themselves are capable of much trickery themselves. A custom in these parts is Troves and Trickery whereby you are tasked with offering various insults to members of the local community. Within a short while, I had shivered and burped, had tantrums and picked at my clothing in a rude manner. I’m not sure the recipients saw the funny side although they claimed that they enjoyed the experience.
There is also a haunted cellar here but I have not yet had time to try this; another day perhaps.
I also wanted to enter the horse race but everyone laughed at me and said I was too small. Cheek, I’ll be planning a few tricks for them very soon.
I must say I had fun all day and picked up some nice gifts too. My favourite was a nice mask which I have sketched below. But for now, my head hurts and I must lie down for a spell – I just hope no-one plays a trick on me while I’m asleep!