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.)...
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