The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire
2018 Advent Calendar
It’s this time of the year again… Winter is coming swiftly, and with it, Christmas.
When I hear this beloved word, I think of gingerbread, St. Nicholas, the Christmas Tree, pierogi dumplings (I’m Polish, and trust me, there are few things in this world that are better than traditional Polish Christmas), Borscht soup, the entire Christmas Eve Supper with its 12 courses, gazing into the dark sky to spot the first ‘star’ of that nightfall… and a multitude of other traditions and customs.
I remember that ‘Christmas Eve Supper’, which took place on December the 21st, not 24th, and in the morning, not in the evening, the Christmas Eve organised at school, where I sat with all my friends and teachers… precious memories, may they never fade… it was on that day, that I borrowed The Children of Hurin from the library, and for the first time read this heartbreaking Tolkienic tale. It was on different Christmas, few years earlier, that my parents gifted me perhaps with the most important gift I’ve ever received, a copy of The Silmarillion, which sparked my passion for Tolkien’s amazing secondary world and all the stories set inside it, The Legendarium. Without them, this blog and this essay would never come to be. Thank you, Mum & Dad.
Well, I simply love Christmas, the holiday, the traditions, the customs. I especially adore Polish Christmas, but in recent years, I’ve read a lot on Christmastide customs in other countries and regions, and those, I also find fascinating and great. And since I’m religious person, a Roman Catholic, this time is doubly important and beloved for me.
And even before Christmastide proper begins, there is this wonderful four-weeks long period of Advent. The memories this one word brings to my mind… The daily Rorate Masses at 5:30 in the evening from Monday to Friday, and early in the Saturday morning… Walking to the church, guiding my way through the dark streets with the Advent lantern…
Now, there’s this tradition here in Poland, that also exists in some other countries, of the Advent Calendar. The specifics may vary, even from one household to another, but generally, the Calendar is used to count down the Advent days left until Christmas. You open the first ‘window’ on the First Advent Sunday, and then, one by one, you open the rest, as days and weeks pass.
In my family, my brother and I had our Advent Calendars containing about 24 (as the length of Advent varies from one year to another). chocolates, which came in many different shapes, of toys, snowmen, Christmas trees and so on. We’d open one ‘window’ open every day as we came back from the church after the Rorate Mass which began at 5:30 p.m. and lasted for about one hour.
THE ADVENT CALENDAR 2017
Last year, in late November 2017, and idea dawned on me that I could create something similar to an Advent Calendar, devoted to Tolkien and A Song of Ice and Fire. Thus, I wrote 22 daily posts, as Advent had 22 days that year (having began on Sunday Dec. the 3rd). Each contained one of my theories in a nutshell, some analysis or other piece of my ASOIAF research… besides essays on Tolkienic influences in ASOIAF, there were posts about Sir James George Frazer’s The Golden Bough, and Robert Graves’ Oak and Holly King seasonal mythology. That series encompassed nearly all my theories and research from the 2014-2017 period (I’ve first read ASOIAF in 2014, and joined the fandom in the autumn of that year).
Coldhands the ranger as George R.R. Martin’s own Tom Bombadil figure, Queen Nymeria’s burning of the Rhoynar fleet as a reference to the Noldor setting their ships ablaze upon landing in Middle-earth, Daeron the Targaryen King and Dareon the singer as references to Daeron of Doriath, the courtier and minstrel of King Thingol of Doriath from Beren and Luthien, The Great Empire of the Dawn as Numenor, The Bloodstone Emperor as Ar-Pharazon and the Amethyst Empress as Tar-Miriel… so many theories.
In May 2018, I’ve started The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire project, and in the following months, I wrote several essays exploring how J.R.R. Tolkien inspired George R.R. Martin. But looking at those posts, I see that every single one of them simply further develops and builds upon the ideas from The Advent Calendar 2017. I believe deciding to write those 22 essays was probably the turning post in my ‘career’ in the ASOIAF fandom. Before the Calendar, my ideas were scattered between dozens of posts, in various threads at WesterosOrg forums. After the Calendar, I had something to quote, to share with others, I saw clearly what ideas I have, what clues I’ve found in the text and now can follow… Without that December 2017 series, there’d be no TolkienicSOIAF. I owe all I’ve done in 2018, as far as ASOIAF research is concerned, to the Calendar.
THE ADVENT CALENDAR 2018 – TOPICS and SCHEDULE
Thus, this Advent, I return to this project. I’ve changed the format a bit, wiser thanks to my 2017 experience – I saw that for many people, it’s hard to find the time to read one essay every day for several weeks. For this reason, this time there’ll be 23 daily tweets, not posts. (The 2018 Advent begins on Sunday, Dec. the 2nd, and I’’ll post the final entry on Dec. the 24th – on Christmas Eve). Please follow @lordbluetiger on Twitter to get the daily updates.
Each daily tweet will contain one of my recent Tolkienic theories concerning ASOIAF in a nutshell, and contain a link to relevant sections or essays from The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire, for further reading.
But that’s not all.
Besides tweets and links, there will be four essays, with one released on every Advent Sunday – on Dec. the 2nd, Dec. the 9th, Dec. the 16th, and the final one on Dec. the 23rd, just before Christmas Eve. Those essays will largely contain new theories or analysis. The first one is entitled The Return of the Queen and focuses on the theme of usurped female royal line returning to power. Eärendil, Bearer of Light explores Tolkien’s Morningstar and Evenstar symbolism, which in my view has heavily influenced GRRM’s ideas like Lightbringer. In another essay, probably the shortest of the tetralogy, we’ll return to the Great Empire of the Dawn, but this time, we won’t look for its Tolkienic inspirations. Instead, in The Jade Empire we’ll analyse how this ancient empire parallels Charn, the dying world of Empress Jadis, commonly known as the White Witch of Narnia, from the works of Professor Tolkien’s close friend C.S. Lewis. Aenar’s Aeneid explores the influence of Vergil’s The Aeneid on ASOIAF.
With that said, The 2018 Advent Calendar of Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire begins!
I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Merry Christmas ASOIAF Twitteros!