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A Simple Answer by Dreamflower

Author: Dreamflower
Title: A Simple Answer
Rating: G
Theme: Potluck
Elements: November's theme: gratitude
Author's Notes: "Giving gifts: was a personal matter, not limited to kinship. It was a form of 'thanksgiving, and taken as a recognition of services, benefits and friendship show, especially in the last year." (Letters, #214)
Summary: In Minas Tirith, Pippin and his friend Menelcar, have a conversation about hobbit customs.
Word Count: 200

"I have always been curious, Pippin, about the curious custom hobbits have of giving gifts to others on their birthdays. You must know it seems quite backwards to the rest of the world." Menelcar puffed on his pipe, and then sent up a smoke ring.

Pippin leaned back against the garden wall where he and the Court Minstrel sat, and produced a somewhat larger and rounder one, and then gave his friend a cheeky grin.
"To us, the rest of the world seems backwards. We do give gifts to the byrdings, but not on their birthdays. Usually we give them the day before, but if we miss doing that, then we must wait for afterwards. The actual birthday is especially for the byrdings to give gifts."

"But why?"

Pippin looked at him closely. He wondered at Men sometimes. Why couldn't they see the obvious. "You really don't know? It's because the day you are born is the day you should show thanks for having been given life. So of course you give out gifts to those family and friends who have made your life better all that year!"

Menelcar blinked. Of course. When put that way it was so simple.


Jan. 27th, 2015 05:41 am (UTC)
I loved this. It is something I've wondered too.
Jan. 28th, 2015 02:14 pm (UTC)
Letter #214 is a treasure trove of hobbit customs, laws and manners; JRRT explains a lot in it.

I really do love the emphasis he gives to hobbits and gifts. It shows them as a truly generous people, for whom the adage "Better to give than receive" is a given, a social norm.

One of the things I love is that among hobbits, it is "not done" to make a display of the gifts one receives--it's considered poor taste to brag about the "loot" one gets, lest any giver feel badly that his or her gift is not "as good" as one from another person. That's the reason hobbits never bring a gift to a wedding. Such gifts are always given in private.


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