The Egg Laying Mammal

The culture of the Nacirema’s has many strange practices. Most of these practices occur at night when the household of the Nacirema family is sleeping and include the belief of a small winged women who leaves currency for a tooth, a fat man in a red suit who breaks into the house to leave presents, and a little man with a red beard who will turn a glass of clear liquid green if it is left outside overnight on a certain day in March. Now, I will focus in on one of these strange practices: the belief of the egg laying mammal.

I was lucky enough to have to be able to stay with a Nacirema family and learn about this specific belief. The actual reason for the celebration has nothing to do with this egg laying mammal, it has to do with the son of the creator of all the world’s people. It has been pasted down from generation to generation that this son was killed to help the world’s people, and on this one specific day he rose from the dead. No one knows how the egg laying mammal plays into this story. Some say it is due from the fact that no one knows which came first: the mammal or the egg? Other Nacirema’s say it is just a way to allow their offspring to become interested in the story.

A few days before the Nacirema celebration of the egg laying mammal, the family gets a bunch of white oval objects and designs them. This is done by mixing colored dye with the clear liquid. After the dye mixture is made, the offspring along with their elders put the white oval object into the the mixture and let it sit for awhile. When the white oval object comes out of the mixture, it is no longer white but a certain color. The Nacirema’s also have a clear magic stick they use to put their names and designs on the white oval object before it is put into the mixture; this magic stick makes it so the dye does not adhere to where the magic stick was put. It should be noted that these white oval objects are a part of the Nacirema diet. Even after they have been dyed, the Nacirema’s still will eat them. Along with these white oval objects, the elders of the Nacirema’s obtain fake colored oval objects. These fake colored oval objects break in half and the elders hide things in them. The Nacirema’s say this is all in preparation for a game which is played on the day of the egg laying mammal.

On the morning of celebration for the egg laying mammal, the Nacirema’s offspring wake up to find a holder woven of different colors from the egg laying mammal somewhere within their shelter. This woven holder contains plastic strings of different colors, some sweet edible carve outs of the egg laying mammal, and a few plastic entertainment items for the offspring. After opening this woven holder, the Nacirema’s put on some of their fancy material and go to a big building to celebrate the son of their creator. Once this celebration with people outside of the direct Nacirema family is over, the Nacirema family gathers at one selected house. Here they ingested an array of different edible objects. After they are all done ingesting, one of the Nacirema family members grabs the colored and fake oval objects of the egg laying mammal and hides them all over the yard. The family member comes back inside to announce the game is ready to be played. The offspring of the Nacirema family each get a woven holder and are told to go find as many of the egg laying mammal’s eggs as they can. Whatever the offspring end up with in their woven holder is what they receive as a prize for playing.

This celebration of the egg laying mammal has been around in the Nacirema’s culture for many, many years and it is one which will continue to be celebrated. No one knows who thought up the idea of an egg laying mammal, for that is just preposterous, but none of the Nacirema’s question it and most seem to enjoy this day of celebration.

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