Jolene The essay, “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari”
Jolene Vanderpool Professor Rice ANTH 1200 30 September 2011 Americans view Christmas as a time to give and appreciate everything we have had in the year and to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but it can also be seen as a selfish holiday as we ask for presents from our loved ones. The essay, “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari” by Richard Borshay Lee explains that you cannot take what is said and done to you as a reflection of your personal views if you do not take the time to think about the way those words and actions affect you.
We can learn many things about our culture if we reflect on the cultures of others around the world. This is essay offers the reader a chance to explore how a different culture celebrates a holiday in a similar but very different way than Americans. `Richard Lee, a Cultural anthropologist studied the culture of the! Kung , also known as Ju/’ hoansi, Bushman culture. “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari” is a story about that shows an example of cross cultural misunderstanding.
Lee attempted to give the! Kung the largest and fastest ox he could find.Lee thought it would be a kind gesture to share as the “Christmas Feast”. ! Kung culture insulted & taunted Lee with the inadequacy of his gift. After being taunted by the entire tribe, the ox was too small, old, boney, and almost dead. They claimed that they would all still remain hungry after and not be able to follow through with their tradition. When the ox was cut Lee found it to be nice and fat with lots of meat. After laughing at Lee’s frustration he realized it all had been a joke.
Lee questioned them about the “joke”.He found this is how his culture reacts to boasting. However, he learned that in the world of the Bushmen, a hunter cannot brag to his people, he should learn humility by lessening the act of successfully hunting or he could kill someone. By speaking ill of the prize of his hunt as though it was worthless will “cool his heart and make him gentle” (24.
) Lee discovered that there is no such thing as a free gift. When I first started to read I thought that the Bushmen were rude and very inconsiderate about the amazing feast they would be receiving for dinnerChristmas Night, but actually all they were doing was bringing him down to make him feel just as an equal to the other men around. Americans are always boasting about what good things we have done for ourselves or others.
We expect to be treated better if we act like we are better than another. Where the Bushman do not boast about their goods they talk themselves and each other down so they do not get too full of themselves and think that they belong at the top of the totem and to be treated better than others as he had the better kill that fed more people.They work hard to keep every individual from feeling superior to the others to ward off aggression, hostility, and conflict. Americans are always trying to one up one another, but Bushmen are all equal hunters and do not boast about what good they have done for fellow bushman; rather they are humble with themselves to maintain equal status and friendly relationships with the other men. We do not have the reactions that the ! Kung do, instead we sit and ridicule others over the hunt not being as big as another’s, we make it into a competition to see who can be better at the hunt and come back with the trophy prize.
In some ways, we should work harder to be like the Bushmen and not become so full of ourselves since egotism is not a quality that represents the positive aspects of one’s personality and make us think of ourselves better than others. I believe that we should spend more time getting to know about the cultural traditions of others so we know their ways before we do something that may become a mess. That we are all different in ways but in some we are alike, as we are all humans and have our ways that things work, but there are ways that we always seem to become rude and make jokes of the people around us.