"Halflings" is the general expression used to refer to a race of short people that commonly live in settlements known as "Shires". Some have given Halflings other names as well. Centoraurians, for example, commonly call them the "Holbytlan". Others merely call them the "small folk". However, though "Halfling" is the most common expression, the members of the race itself much prefer to be called "Hobbits" ("Green-People"). Hobbits are not commonly known among the major races of Caelereth, because they are considered to be a minor race, as they are not influential politically. They do not often leave their shires, and some even believe this race to be mere myth, living only in songs and tales. Hobbits are very much alive, though, and have a bright and rich culture.
Hobbits are not called "small folk" and "halfings" for nothing. They are indeed
rather short, tending to grow only about a ped in height, being shorter than
dwarves and far less stocky and stout. Their weight
often ranges between 5 to 6 hebs, as they are "inclined to be a bit fat in the
belly". Most Hobbits begin gaining their big bellies
once they've passed the age of thirty-three. A large belly is not believed to
detract from one's attractiveness, though. Female Hobbits
tend to have an ample chest accompanying their large bellies. The body structure
of the Hobbit allows for them to easily carry the
weight, being big boned. They also have larger feet and hands, often making them
appear disproportional to outsiders, and at the same time giving them a rather
Hobbits almost always have curly hair, both on the top of their heads and on their feet. Their foot-hair is coarser than their head-hair and allows them to walk comfortably without shoes. The hair atop their heads tends to be far softer, and varies, commonly, from shades of brown, both dark and light, to red to even blond. Few Hobbits have black hair, though time may turn an old hobbit's hair to gray or white. Eye color may range anywhere from brown to hazel to blue and green. The eyes of Hobbits are known for being full of mirth and laughter. The lips of the Hobbit are almost always turned in a smile, being often very good-natured and hearty.
Territory. In the Santharian Kingdom there exist 3 main Hobbit shires with no more than a few thousand members each. Every shire is maintained and run by a so-called "Thain", which can be compared to a mayor in the human towns and villages. The office of the Thain is inherited from father to son. The Santharian shires are as follows:
Mode of Living/Habits.
Hobbits are known for being fairly unobtrusive and fond of nature, peace, and
are usually very quiet beings.
They tend to be, not necessarily laid-back, but not hasty. They do not hurry
unnecessarily and take time to get from one place to another, or to complete a
project, believing that "good things come in time".
They are often self-content and unassuming, especially when it comes to the
things happening in the world. Hobbits do not often meddle in the affairs of
"big folk", and travel is not common
except through the shires in
which they live. Because of their neutrality during times of war, they were
tolerated in the same manner as the Brownies, and
were thus able to avoid too much destruction and
decimation during hard times. The first time Hobbits
actually engaged in a Sarvonian War was during SW III
(298 b.S.-203 b.S.) during which time the famous Hobbit
Boe Starlinggale served as commander of the
Halfing lancers in the Battle of
Hobbits tend to be able to look lightly on even the direst situations, and are indeed known for such behavior. They may face the most horrid experience, but are often able to recall the story without much trouble. As one scholar put it, “Some Hobbits are able to sit on the edge of ruin, in the dying wake of destruction, and discuss the pleasure of cuisine, or the little doings of their father, grandfather, great-grandfathers, or cousins to the eighth degree, if you encourage them with undue patience.”
Picture description. Scene from the Helmondsshire showing the common hobbit holes carved into the hillsides. Picture by Eshóh K'ryvvlen.
Hobbits tend to make their homes in holes dug into the hills. These holes are
often very large and extremely extensive, as they tend to accommodate very large
families. Often times grandparents, parents, and children will all live together
in one Hobbit hole. Sometimes many family clans live
in an elaborate system of underground tunnels connecting one hole to another,
and mere holes become more like one big mansion. Such Hobbit
holes are called "smials".
The windows and doors of Hobbit holes are almost
always round, and large enough to fit the small Hobbit
nicely, though "big folk", like
elves and men, may have trouble maneuvering through
Hobbit holes. Many important Hobbit
holes, such as those used for grand meetings or festive celebrations, are
adorned with a rune of hospitality, shape like a half circle that surrounds a
center fleck on all sides save the bottom left corner, and also one that shows
loyalty to the Kingdom of Santharia.
It is said that long ago Hobbits used to live above the ground in structures with thatched roofs and bulging walls, but such homes are no longer used.
Family, Society and Culture. Many Hobbits are very fond of music and poetry. This race of "small folk" is known for writing poetry and composing songs through which they maintain a rich oral tradition. Grand tales of mythological adventure, pieces of ancient Hobbit history, and lore are all written about and sung and read, though the truths and myths have since been forgotten and none know what tales are based on actual occurrences and which merely sprung out of fantasy. One thing is fairly certain though: long ago there were far more Hobbits about, and they were more adventurous than they are in modern times. It is believed they left Sarvonia long ago in search of danger and treasure, but of these tribes, almost nothing is known save what is sung about in ancient song.
One such song follows the fate of Nefrast the Curious, who is said to have moved too close to the burning Injèrá so that he died painfully in his expedition to the south. "So close as Nefrast to the sun" is still a much-used Halfling idiom to warn from perceptions that seem to be too easy to achieve.
Most of the poetry and songs of the Hobbits in general is more geered toward happy adventure and merry times, while often elven poetry is more religious or deeply spiritual and philosophical. Hobbits are more inclined to compose works that follow a merry little adventure, sometimes being humorous or else just being mirthful in nature. Sometimes Hobbits will take stories that would originally be considered rather sad and disappointing, such as Nafrast's story, and turn them into comedic tales that are bound to get a few laughs.
Family and ancestry has always been an important part of Hobbit culture, and most Hobbits find the topic of genetics and ancestry absolutely fascinating, and something they are indeed quite proud of. They enjoy, especially, telling others of their family history, putting the links of genetics and marriage together to date their bloodline back to the first Hobbit to ever come up with pipeweed or the Hobbit Dalireen, who is said to have become a deity after Nehtor heard her song. Family gatherings are both common and extensive! Often a single birthday party, given invitations are given to third cousins twice removed and second nieces and nephews, end up being a celebration in which everyone in the shire is invited to! Halflings can reach the age of 150 (though the average lifespan tends to be about 110) and a couple will commonly have at least four or five little Hobbit children, so birthday parties and celebrations are not uncommon.
If a birthday party is not coming, then usually a festival is on its way. Hobbits will always find some reason to gather together and celebrate, to dance and drink and smoke and laugh together late into the night. Even the smallest accomplishments of Hobbits are remembered with wonderful festivals, such as the festival occurring on the Day of Mondolfin, the "Day when Mondolfin traveled to yonder mountain and returned safely". Some festivals have even lost their origin, though the moral and the reason for celebration, whether it be strength, courage, safety, or merely happiness and long life, are never lost. They love giving and receiving gifts: even the smallest token is gladly accepted by a Hobbit and often kept stored away in a Hobbit hole.
Hobbits have several important birthdays in their life. Well, all birthdays are indeed quite important, but there are a few that are indeed a bit more important than the others. One of the most important of these is thrity-three, when a Hobbit comes of age. A great celebration is usually accompanied with this age, when a Hobbit first begins to go out on his or her own, and also begins to get their belly.
Fifty five tends to also be a rather important number. Less important, of course, than the coming of age at thirty three, but still seemingly rather important, for reason still rather unknown. Most Hobbits indeed have some magnificent story that explains the signifigence of the age, but there are none who remember it, if there ever was one. Most delight in it because it often marks the halfway point in a Hobbit's life.
Image description. A Sarvonian Draught Pony, also called "Hobbithorse", fooling around with a hobbitling. Picture drawn by Viresse.
A hobbit's Eleventy-first (111) birthday is indeed a great celebration, more a
celebration of long-life more than anything, given the average lifespan of a
hobbit is 110. However, most figure that the reason one's eleventy-first is so
important is merely that the number is such a curious one! Three one's all in a
row is mighty peculiar to Hobbits.
Marriage is indeed a joyous celebration done after at least a few months of devoted courtship, during which the coupled Hobbits will go through a number of platonic rituals including walking together and respectable dancing and singing. It is common for male hobbits to present their love-interest with flowers, as is common for female hobbits to present baked goods (such as cookies or pies) to hers and hers' family. Marriage proposals are given after several months, at least, of such things.
However, when marriage is proposed and invitations are sent, all family and friends (which, more often then not, includes the entire shire population) attend. Marriage almost always occurs in spring, and the bride will wear dresses of either white, pink, yellow, purple, or blue, with the bridegroom in, of course, his best shirt and vest. The rituals of marriage usually include the father of the bride giving his daughter to the bridegroom, and each Hobbit reciting poetic promises to each other. After such a ceremony, the new Hobbits and all their company will gather together, usually outside, and have a grand feast accompanied by, of course, the best beer the shire has to offer.
Funerals are often a time of mourning and sadness, though Hobbits try to make light of such things. Hobbits are often buried in the ground, along with some of their most important possessions. There is then much music and dancing where the life of the deceased is celebrating instead of their death. There is often a great feast during which times random people may stand and say something about the Hobbit who was buried, whether it be one of their good traits or a funny story or tale.
Food is also a very important part of the lives of Hobbits. They haven't gained
their famous bellies by merely singing and dancing all day, after all! Cooking
and meal-times have become an extremely important part of the culture, such to
the point that most hobbits learn to cook before they even learn their letters.
It is said that the best cooks are hobbits, but also that hobbits are the best
eaters. They commonly eat at least five meals a day.
Pipeweed has also been known to be a
rather large part of the history, and is an invention of hobbits that they are
indeed quite proud of.
Hobbits will eat just about any edible thing that will grow around them. They are especially fond of vegetables, such as carroots and pease, which they will grow happily in their gardens. They also love lythbells and meldarapples, and are overall very fond of things that grow from the earth. Gardening is a very common Hobbit pasttime and, sometimes, occupation. Hobbits do eat meat as well, such as that of cows and sheep that they have grazing in their pastures, as well as taenish that cluck about in their front yards. However, fresh fruits and vegetables are commonly their favorite.
Halflings also have a taste for beer, and will happily drink down glasses of it, which they often do at parties and celebrations. Many Hobbits take great care in making beer, being sure to brew it so that it comes out just right, with the best flavor. Indeed, every bar and tavern is not always judged on how good the food is, how cute the waitresses are, or how quick the service is, but rather, how good the beer is that they serve.
Belief. The "small folk" of the shire believe, usually, in the same Gods and Goddesses as elves and men to some degree. Avá and the Aviaría are known throughout most shires, but worship and prayer is not a common behavior among Hobbits, who would much rather celebrate Gods and Goddesses through song, dance, and beer, than through quiet and solemn prayer. Because of this, there aren't many shrines near or in shires. Religion is not judged as something terribly important among this little folk.
Hobbits do have some of their own deities, however, who, though not commonly known among elves and men and the other races of Santharia, are much celebrated and loved among the Halfing race. One such deity is Dalireen, who is believed to be the Hobbit muse of song, dance, and innocence. She is commonly thought of in times when inspiration is greatly needed, and called to in song instead of silent prayer.
Origin. Of the cosmological origin of the Halflings little is known. In the elven myth of the Cárpa'dosía it is told that the Rain of Life emerging from the Thoughts of Avá fell on the elements, thus generating the four main races, the elves, the dwarves, the orcs and the humans. The Hobbits aren't mentioned in the myth directly, but it is indicated that several different races came to life out of various combinations of the four elements: "One smaller being arose near a lake where the ground is hard and massive, though it bore the full strength of the nearby sá már [water] in it" (Cárpa'dosía IV, p. 16). According to this description it is supposed from elven interpreters that the Halflings are a cosmological combination of the elements of Water and Earth.
However, there is a much more amusing story on how Hobbits came to life if we believe a narration of Gwerolin Shimms, a well-known story-teller at the village of Shingleswon in Helmondsshire, but although it has no scientific nor mythological base, it is still told with enthusiasm to the Hobbit children. It goes like this (transcribed from the famous storyteller Master Tribell, listening to Gwerolins narration in front of several young Halflings):
Where the Hobbits Came From. "Long, long ago, when the world
was still young there were no hobbits at all. (Amazed cries from the audience.)
There were only the big folk, the pointed-eared, the snouted ones and a small
folk as well. And this story goes about this small folk.
Important Characters. One of the most famous Hobbit characters in Santharian history is Boe Starlinggale, who served as commander of the Halfling lancers in the Battle of Four Swords (SW III), following the fallen Palvin Nhadle. Together with the elf Pherán'Epthaerín, Tevot Charnel of the men and the dwarf Gonthrum he left the Sarvonian continent fleeing from the orcs in order to establish a new realm harboring all four races at the isle of Denilou. Boe served as a valuable counselor of Pherán'Epthaerín representing the interests of the Hobbits on the newly discovered island.