As an Anthropologist I was given the opportunity to study/observe the tribe of Nacirema. I have been with them for a short amount some time (a month and a half to be exact) and have found myself quite surprised on what I have learned in such a short period of time. This tribe locates itself between Yaqui, Canadia Cree, and Tarahumare of Mexico, and the Carib and Arawak of the Antilles. During my stay, I have observed several rituals used.
On my first day of stay I was able to jump right into the Nacirema’s home activities of placing strange, alienated decorations around the home. I was even given a new sock to place on their chimney (although they didn’t seem to get the right size). A few weeks later I found myself having to help hall up a strange green spiky tree to the main gathering area. Once the spiky tree was considered ready, we then all put magical balls, enchanted flashing lights, and mystical ribbons around, and on the spiky tree. To my surprise, it actually looked pretty neat.
During this time of year, the tradition of giving seemed to be the main focus. Thus, I was given the chance to see what it was like to go to magical temples that provided all kinds of magical things, anything you could ever imagine, although it seemed to come with a cost. At the end of our journey in the magical temples we would give money to the temple workers for the items we had. I later learned how to wrap the items in mysterious deceiving films that hid what the item was. I then was told that the wrapped item was called a gift. The gift was then placed under the spiky tree. I was then told that the gifts weren’t allowed to be opened until Samtsirhc. Apparently this soon approaching day was a rather big celebration among families.
December 25 is the actual celebration day of a heavenly baby being born, which they call Samtsirhc. On Samtsirhc morning the family gathers around the spiky tree, where all the gifts have been placed and they all take turns opening them, I even had a few myself! We then gathered around the fireplace and were each given our sock, which was, to my surprise, filled with all kinds of sweet treats. I then realized the sock wasn’t meant for my foot, but for a simple gesture of giving on Samtsirhc. At the end of the celebration we all gathered around the table for a massive feast filled with laughter, all kinds of strange food, and appreciation of the given celebration.
Though my stay was short with the Nacireman family, I retained so much information about them and their yearly ritual in celebrating Samtsirhc. Their ideal of Samtsirhc consists of putting up a spiky tree with all kinds of strange things that hang off and around it (I think they called them decorations), filling the bottom of the spiky tree with wrapped gifts that hid the appearance of the item, hanging overly sized socks over their fireplaces, and gathering for a massive dinner. I still cannot believe this is a one day event only, but being a part of the celebration was a great experience that I wouldn’t mind participating in again.