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Celebrate J.R.R. Tolkien's twelvety-third birthday with a traditional toast

Be sure to have a drink in your hand at 9 p.m. on January 3 if you want to properly honor the master of Middle-earth.

Before he was a professor, at age 24.Wikimedia Commons

Had J.R.R. Tolkien lived in the Middle-earth of his own creation, the festivities surrounding his annual birthday celebration would likely involve tables full of honey-cakes and lembas, and many a glass of miruvor schlepped in from the Woodland Realm of the Elves.

Fortunately, ours is a world of myriad more conveniences and less worries over orc invasions, so a traditional Tolkien birthday toast may suffice, no matter whether you stand in the middle, north, south, east or west side of our Earth.

Not familiar with a Tolkien toast? Luckily, it's simpler than just about any part of the fictional universe he created, with its complex race relations and really unpleasant dragons holding a disproportionate sway over the economy of Middle-earth, at least as far as reserves of precious metals go.

To salute Tolkien and commemorate what would have been his twelvety-third (123rd) birthday on January 3, simply raise a glass of your favorite brew or spirit, distilled by elves or not, at 9 p.m. local time on that hallowed day and toast by declaring: "The professor!"

The ceremony is simple enough, but it's best observed in the tradition of the dwarves, surrounded by good friends, or even just some new acquaintances at a local establishment. The Tolkien Society has an online list of a few pubs in Europe, New York, Israel and Indonesia that will be hosting events and a birthday toast this year. Or, if you can't get to one of those shindigs at the major hubs, check with your local smial to see where nearby Tolkien nuts might be toasting.

Finally, if you happen to be in the Pacific Northwest, mark your calendars for January 10 and the all-day birthday celebration at the McMenamins' Kennedy School in Portland, including a costume contest, audio and video presentations of Tolkien's greatest hits and live music.

Or, if like me, you're more likely to be standing in your kitchen or half-conscious on your couch at 9 p.m. on January 3, join me on Twitter at the time and we'll tweet toast the professor together with whatever's on hand.