The Nacirema people are a quite unique species. Many of their customs are thought to be “primitive” or “outdated.” However, one particular celebration caught my eye while I observed the customs of this tribe: The Festival of Neewollah.
Neewollah is a one day festival falling on October 31st of every year. The Nacirema children awake as on a normal day. However, in some Nacirema tribes, children wake up and put on clothing disguising them as others. Some dress as their favorite hero, a traditional worker, or as a spirit. All children attend their daily schooling as normal, but some of their instructors hand out sweets or small toys to all of the children.
Following school, children remain home until the sky begins to darken: This is when the fascinating ritual begins. All children put on their disguises yet again, and begin visiting other huts in the village. Children approach the front of the huts with small buckets or burlap sacks. All huts are decorated with the God of Neewollah, Kajonretnal. When the owner of the huts opens their door, the children yell in fluent Nacireman, “Kirt ro Taert.” They pay tribute by worshiping Kajonretal. The owner then proceeds to drop sweets and small toys into the bags of the children. This children repeat this to every hut in the village.
After the children’s bags are stuffed full of goodies, they proceed to the second half of the ritual: The Sorting. Children approach the officers of the village, and the officers sort out the sweets and toys. Some villagers prey upon small children; thus the officers find poisonous sweets and dangerous toys. Noted heroes, they safely sort the goodies.
The children proceed back to their huts and remove their disguises. They consume some of their sweets, but usually, the parents force them to retreat to their beds.
Neewollah is a common Nacirema tradition. Children all over the Nacirema country look forward to this festival every year. Families are brought together over disguises, sweets, and laughter. Neewollah is truly a great Nacirema tradition.