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  Chinese Way>Life

Tolkien's holiday tradition

2014-12-24 08:53:06

(China Daily) By Xing Yi


Linda Liu (left), Christine Huang (second left) and her father, actor Huang Lei, with young fans at the book-release party in Beijing on Dec 21. [Photo/China Daily]

The Lord of the Rings author penned letters to his children under the name Father Christmas. Now they have been translated into Chinese. Xing Yi reports.

Most Chinese know J.R.R. Tolkien as the author of the Lord of the Rings who created the fantasy world of Middle Earth and all the epic quests of the hobbits. However, few know that Tolkien had a holiday tradition of writing letters to his four children under the name of Father Christmas.

A book containing those letters, Letters from Father Christmas, was recently translated into Chinese. The book contains letters that Tolkien wrote to his children every year between 1920 and 1943.

"Father Christmas" describes his life and adventures in the Arctic in a child-friendly tone. He describes his ice igloo near the North Pole, and how he packs and delivers gifts on Christmas Eve. Father Christmas and his mischievous helper Polar Bear battle goblins who try to steal their toys with the help of red elves.

Tolkien's first few letters are short and simple, while his later ones are longer and have more extensive plots. Paul H. Kocher, a scholar who wrote extensively on the works of Tolkien, suggests the creatures in the letters may have been the inspiration for those that appeared in Tolkien's later works such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The book includes copies of Tolkien's original letters, which were written in a shaky but elegant handwriting, as Father Christmas is "nineteen hundred and twenty-four, no! seven! years old".

"If John (Tolkien's eldest son) can't read my old shaky writing, he must get his father to," Tolkien wrote.

Each letter was sent by "Chimney Post" and delivered by "direct Reindeer" from the "cliff house on top of the world" with "North Pole postage".

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