Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Exotic Rituals (Pig Roast #9)

Consider it a cultural event.

Our family has a pig roast every year. Or, at least, we have had a pig roast every year for the past nine years, which I think makes it an official annual event.

As a child, I enjoyed our local county fair. I thought of it as a rather ‘big deal’ until I became an older teen/ young adult and decided that such things were rather ‘small townish’ – pedestrian at best, horrifyingly hillbilly-ish at their worst.

And then I left my small town and traveled abroad, and fell in love with the history and culture and ‘exotic rituals’ of so many small festivals. I bounced on a rock suspended by bamboo poles at the ‘Inoko Festival.’ I swam through the streets of Jakarta, buoyed along by the waves of reeds celebrating fertility. I sat on a stone wall on top of a mesa at 4:30am to watch a tribe welcome the sunrise - following a tip by a local tribesperson who really should not have told us at all. We hid respectfully in the shadows, behind the mesmerized children.

I digress. A pig roasted by suburbanites could not possibly compare to events of such intense historical significance.

Our pig roast shadows a long forgotten, anthropologically insignificant event. The ones that leave a little trace and no higher story. The evidence leaves historians puzzled. They wonder why that artifact existed, seemingly used only occasionally. It doesn’t fit the greater myth.

We don’t know why they did that.

Maybe those ancient elders were not so unlike us at all. Perhaps sometimes they did things simply because they needed a reason to do something. Perhaps they knew that cousins exist through shared bloodline, but ‘cousins’ become meaningful through shared experience.

Some rituals are meant to leave more of an impression on the attendees than on history.

When I saw my husband and his brothers lift their roasted pig high above their heads to clear the back fence, I wondered if so many rituals begin that way. Long after the fence were to fall away, the youngsters watching continue to raise the pig high in the air – and only later special meaning becomes attached to the motion.


To my children, nine years might as well be nine hundred. The event holds significance beyond a simple backyard bbq, and they follow their elders with great interest, memorizing the patterns to repeat them as lore, tell them as myth, if only in their hearts.

As I travel with my children, I love to see their eyes devour the details of different cultures, ancient traditions, and exotic rituals. I also wonder if those ancient elders weren’t just a teensy weensy bit happy when those wide-eyed progeny finally curled up to sleep.

With great relief, we put away our exotic rituals for another year.

Pictures from this year might be available eventually, when my husband's computer recovers from the malady by which it is afflicted.


Flea said...

Oh what fun. I'm so jealous. For my family it was crawfish boils, but we rarely attended. I get to hear about them from other family. Ritual and tradition are so important to kids, to the stability of their existence, regardless how we see it.

Brigette said...

I love rituals. I love your commentary on rituals, both primitive and suburbanite. This was an A+ post, pictures or no pictures.