25 Dec 2009

They looked up and saw a bright star....

Merry Christmas from the Shire!

Today we celebrate the light in the dark of the bleak midwinter. The bright light on hope, peace, love and re-birth has a deepest meaning in Middle-earth and its closely connected to the whole Tolkien's universe. In the darkest moment, Frodo will lay lifeless, cold and pale, struck down by the evil of the giant spider Shelob. Sam is nearby, he has fought like a hero but he is too late. He was suppose to protect Mr.Frodo, now he is holding his friend in his arms with tears in his eyes. The Ring-bearer is dead, the Quest has failed, Middle-earth is lost and all hope is gone....or has it? Inside his heart Sam finds the courage he did not now he had and holding the Phial of Galadriel he faces evil. Frodo is seriously wounded and poisoned but still alive, the bright light of the Phial has overcomed darkness.

The importance of the Phial of Galadriel containing shining water from her magical fountain may maybe not be obvious at first, and yet its the most powerful object in Middle-earth after the One Ring. The origins of the Phial are in an ancient Old English poem that Professor Tolkien had known for over twenty years. The few lines in the poem where to become one of the most important building blocks in the creation of the history of Middle-earth.

Eala Earendel engla beorhtast
Ofer middangeard monnum sended

Modern English:

Hail Earendel, brightest of angels
Above middle-earth sent unto men.

'I felt a curious thrill as if something had stirred in me, half awakened from sleep. There was something very remote and strange and beautiful behind these words, something far beyond ancient English.' (J.R.R. Tolkien)

In the poem the star announces the birth of Jesus Christ, although Tolkien also linked it to a much earlier legend about a bright star the announces the 'birth' of the dawn each day by appearing in the sky before the sun.Professor Tolkien never forgot the original source, this poem that inspired him. Frodo and Sam are gifted with Hope by Galadriel, inside the Phial the brightest light to defeat darkness, just like at Christmas we celebrate the light of the brightest of angels and the re-birth of hope in the dark and bleak midwinter.

Sitting in the warmth of The Green Dragon today, hobbits are wishing you peace, hope and love at Christmas. May your day be filled with light, laughter, songs , ale and lots of good hobbit food....well, just like any other day in the Shire , really :)