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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Self-imposed distractions: the value of traditions

<ften difficult to see how odd a situation is when you are stuck in the middle of it.

In “The Histories,” Herodotus, the acclaimed “father of history,” gives a recount of various ancient customs. He tells us about the ancient Babylonians, whose women are forced to sit down in the sanctuary of Aphrodite and engage in intercourse with a stranger, wearing wreaths made of cord on their heads. No women can leave until she has done the deed; some wait as long as three or four years.

The ancient Issedoneians, upon the death of a man’s father, have all their relatives bring their flocks to sacrifice. They chop up the animals and the body of the father, mix all of the meat together and set it out to eat. They also pluck all of the hair from the father’s head, clean it, and treat it as a precious image that is given annual sacrifices.

The ancient Scythians drink from the skulls of their most hated enemies, and only those who have killed the men are able to drink from the skulls, the others are forced to sit away in dishonor.
Now, there is this other culture, a culture much less ancient than the ones Herodotus tells us about. In this culture, many young girls punch holes in their ears with needles, and keep little metal stubs in these holes for the rest of their lives.

For recreation in this culture, young men put helmets on and smash into each other, while simultaneously trying to get a spheroid ball across the field. Thousands of humans sit in an elevated position around this field and scream at the 22 individuals playing. Those unable to attend watch the game on a screen elsewhere. 
This culture takes animals from the wild, puts them in small cages made to replicate their “natural environment,” and charges people money to come look at the animals. This is an especially popular activity to entertain young children.

Every year at the end of October, these people stock their houses with a lot of candy, and dress their children up in costumes. When nighttime encroaches, the children and young teenagers go from door to door asking for candy, which is given to them freely.

When a person sneezes, it is custom to turn to this person and say, “bless you.” When a person dies, it is custom to either burn their body or bury it beneath the ground near other dead bodies. When 365 days pass by from the day a person is born, it is custom to bake them a large cake, light the cake with candles on top, and sing a song entitled, “happy birthday.”

These ways of life happen mechanically, injected into the human mind from birth. It is how humans cope; it is how they feel a part of something. Yet, at what point does it become too mechanical, too familiar for the individual?

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