Jun 3, 12:37pm
Just a quick thought or two regarding the question of Durin's Day:
Your point about trying to adapt the calculations from an agreed-upon central place of observation (Moria) to any other spot in the world is well-taken; but in this case I would think that since these instructions appear on a map of the Lonely Mountain, Thror is referring to an occurrence of Durin's Day there. The calculations are still pretty daunting, but at least that is one less hurdle to clear.
Secondly, and this is purely the fancy of an historical astronomy dilettante, I can see the dwarves having some kind of calendar-like device (a la Stonehenge?) to determine the course of the year, phases of the moon, etc. Fun to think about. If such a thing did exist, where would it be located, and who would have the responsibility of tending to it? Back to Moria again, no doubt. Far more likely, of course, is your suggestion that the whole thing just makes for a good plot point that keeps the story rolling along --- like so much of The Hobbit.
All that being said, do I recall being rather surprised on first read that a people who live such long lives and put such an emphasis on their traditions, Thorin in particular, could not determine the date of something that seems to have been of a great importance to them, so much so that (like the movie Broken Arrow) they have a name for it.
For just as there has always been a Richard Webster, so too has there been a Black Scout of the North to greet him at the door on the sill of the evening and to guard him through his darkest dreams.
(This post was edited by Roverandom on Jun 3, 12:46pm)