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9 Fascinating Cult Literary Traditions

By November 14, 2016Literary Events

You know you’re a die hard fan when you get Dumbledore or Gandalf references into every conversation, but some bookworms take things one step further bringing events from literature to life with things that become literary traditions. These cult movements celebrate events in books by dragging them from the pages and celebrating them and they really show bookworms to be a breed apart when it comes to sheer dedication to the cause.

Today I’ve collected some of these weird and wonderful literary traditions together in one fascinating list, some of them are brilliant, many plainly weird but they all show the love that bookworms have for their fictional friends.

Hobbit Day

The birthday of hobbits Bilbo and Frodo Baggins falls on September 22nd. Bilbo is said to have been born in the year 2890, and Frodo later in 2968. This day has become known as Hobbit Day, and the following week as Tolkien Week. The American Tolkien society has marked this day every year since 1978, and around the world fans have parties and feasts to celebrate the hobbits’ birthdays.


The Hobbit Review
10 things you may not know about Tolkien


Perhaps the most famous of all cult literary traditions is Bloomsday, the annual celebration of the life of author James Joyce. The day occurs on June 16th every year, and as fans will know this date is chosen because it is the day the entire book of Ulysses is set. All over the world celebrations take place, but none so extravagant as in Dublin where the day is akin to St Patrick’s Day with pub crawls, readings, dramatisation and plenty of dressing up as characters from the book.


James Joyce: A Look at the Artist as a Young Man

Towel Day

Don’t forget, according to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, a man who always knows where his towel is, is a man to be reckoned with! And that’s why May 25th has become towel day when fans celebrate by carrying a towel around with them all day, and thereby also recognising other die hard fans.


Towel Day

Kissing the Tomb of Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde rests in Paris in a beautiful tomb and for many years it’s been a cult tradition to visit the tomb and, wearing lipstick, to kiss it leaving a kiss shaped smacker. More recently cleaning work and lipstick grease have eroded the tomb and a protective glass screen has been put in place to protect it. As Oscar Wilde was arrested in 1895 for a four year relationship with the son of a Marquess, we’re not sure what he’d make of the adoration.


10 Wilde Quotes from Oscar

Raising a Glass to Poe

While this is a singular event more than a literary movement, it needs someone to pick up the mantel. For 60 years on Poe’s birthday, January 19th a mysterious figure would visit Poe’s grave in Baltimore, raise a glass of cognac to the author and leave the rest of the bottle with three red roses. Spotting the figure became quite the event for Poe fans but sadly four years have now gone by since he appeared but fans have been picking up the mantel and continuing the tradition.


Edgar Allen Poe: A Brief Insight

Muggle Quidditch

This is the most recent one so far and has grown in popularity since the late 90s, played by groups and university societies around the world. Muggle Quidditch has been taken to many lengths, with some muggles even attempting the real flying aspect!


Real Life Quidditch for Muggles

The Jane Austen Festival

While this is a local event rather than a worldwide one, every September Austen fans descend on Bath, England for an entire weekend dressed up as their favourite Jane Austen characters. The events are organised by the Jane Austen Centre, and are the perfect way to get a taste of Austen in real life!


8 Jane Austen Quotes

The Annual Moby Dick Readathon

Every year in recent years the New Bedford Whaling Museum hosts a readathon of continuous reading of Moby Dick spanning three days, including works from the author and an interactive game of Stump the Scholars.


10 Monstrous Quotes from Herman Melville

Baker Street Irregulars

There’s always that one cult tradition that’s too exclusive to join and it’s where we’re finishing today. In Conan Arthur Doyle’s Holmes stories the Baker Street Irregulars were a gang of kids Holmes employed to help with his cases sometimes. In real life the Baker Street Irregulars are an invitation only society of eminent Sherlockian scholars who meet for yearly dinners. Isaac Asimov was a member when he was alive and Neil Gaiman is a known member today.


10 Great Lines from the Great Detective

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