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What they should do, what they say they do, and what they do
Posted: Posted December 15th, 2018 by chiarizio

I recently read a quote by an anthropologist who says, for any kind of custom in a culture you’re studying, you need to find the answers to three questions, which might not have the same answer:
  • what do the people in this culture say/think they ought to do?
  • what do the people in this culture say/think they actually do?
  • what do the people in this culture actually do (as observed by the investigators?)

    So, how about it?
    Does anyone on the CWBBoard have examples in their concultures of areas in which what people think they ought to do, what people think most people actually do, and what most people actually actually do, are all different?

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    I recently read a quote by an anthropologist who says, for any kind of custom in a culture you’re studying, you need to find the answers to three questions, which might not have the same answer:
  • what do the people in this culture say/think they ought to do?
  • what do the people in this culture say/think they actually do?
  • what do the people in this culture actually do (as observed by the investigators?)

    So, how about it?
    Does anyone on the CWBBoard have examples in their concultures of areas in which what people think they ought to do, what people think most people actually do, and what most people actually actually do, are all different?


  • Ah, Eldin's Lotus of Ethnographical Evestigation!

    Right off I'll say this is going to be included in the new Questionnaire!

    Nothing deep or earth shattering, but here is an example:

    As you might suspect, around this time of year, folk are preparing for the various incarnations of Yule that get celebrated at midwinter. Now a curious bit of folk custom among the Daine of Harathalliê is Ratsnight. The story is a bit convoluted as folk tales often are, and may or may not be entirely historical.

    The long and short of it is that, long, long ago, when Daine in the area lived under the dominion of Men, they were often starving. And one family at midwinter was particularly bad off. A fellow of a neighbouring family looked around at his own hungry family and wondered what he might do. He went wandering at night among the market stalls and back alleys in the hopes of scrounging up some scrap of something.

    Finding nothing, he sat down in dark alley and taking out his tiny whistle, began to whistle up a mournful air. A passing cat paused to listen a while and said: "You know, I wish I could play the whistle half as well as you; for with a caterwauling tune like that, I could whistle the very rats out of the drains!"

    Before the boy could reply, the cat scampered away. But then he had an idea. He sat down by one of the storm drains set into the middle of the alley. And he began to play a mournful tune, just like the one the cat said he should. And sure enough! A rat poked his head out of the grate! He sniffed and he snuffed and he whiffed and he whuffed and then he popped his whole body out! He thought for sure, what with such beautiful music playing, there must be something good to eat around here!

    And seeing the boy's empty cloth sack lying nearby, he went inside, thinking that surely there must be food inside such an inviting sack!

    And the boy kept playing.

    And rat after rat poked his bewhiskered head out of the grate, sniffing & snuffing and whiffing & whuffing before popping his whole body out! And rat after rat thought, what with such beautiful music playing, there must be something good to eat around here! And rat after rat, seeing the boy's empty cloth saying lying nearby, went inside, thinking that surely there must be food inside such an inviting sack!

    And before long, the sack was a writhing mass of rats sniffing and snuffing and whiffing and whuffing, each one hoping to find a morsel of food!

    And with that, the boy stopped playing!

    And with that, the sack stopped rustling!

    And with that, the rats stopped sniffing and snuffing!

    And with that, the rats stopped whiffing and whuffing!

    And before the spell was truly broken, he grasped the sack by its threadworn neck, pulled the cord and trapped the rats inside!

    And how they squawked and how they squealed! Each one seeking for a way to get out; but they were all trapped!

    Twelve big Rats in a big flour sack; how many rats? one two three!
    I'll give the Rats a big ole whack; how many whacks? four five six!
    Big dead Rats in a big flour sack; how many smacks? sev'n eight nine!
    Give me a kiss and I'll give you a Rat! how many rats? ten elev'n twelve!

    And with that, he tucked his whistle into the pocket of his threadworn wrap; tucked the sack over his shoulder and between his wings; and he went home smiling and thanking the wandering cat. He had enough food to last his family a while and enough to share out with a family worse off.

    Now, in modern times, Daine don't have to rely on whacking rats to stave off starvation, but they remember the times when they did.

    It is said that on Ratsnight, boys would go off into barns and sheds and be on the lookout for any rats the cats have failed to catch. Older siblings will often make little flutes for their younger siblings to play. They almost never catch any actual rats, but that's okay, because there's always someone to play the part of King Rat, and when the boys catch him and make him dance, they bring him home to the girls they like and, maybe, get a kiss.

    Now it happens that a lot of people, older boys especially, think they ought to actually hunt up some real rats. Because, that's what the boy in the old tale did! That's what Ratsnight is all about, after all!

    Some folks, again, often older boys, may tell slightly embellished tales of actual rats they brought back on Ratsnight. Most, I am sure, end up with something rather more appetising and substantial than a mere rat -- they might dub their kills "King Rabbit-Rat" or "Rat-Stuffed-Goose". And they may get a more sincere kiss thereby!

    What I think would surprise many Daine to learn is that there are a number of localities, particularly in the South Thriding, where boys fast for a week and do actually go out on Ratsnight to hunt actual rats. Many end up with squirrels or field mice, but, they're rodents, and it's the thought that counts! Folks in the West & East Thriddings are therefore quite surprised to learn that Ratsnight isn't just a pageant with feast; but is actually a truly enacted starving hunt!

    Posted December 15th, 2018 by elemtilas

    That’s wonderful, elemtilas!
    For not only the main points, but so many “little extras”!
    Thanks!

    Posted December 15th, 2018 by chiarizio

    That’s wonderful, elemtilas!
    For not only the main points, but so many “little extras”!
    Thanks!


    (:

    Posted December 16th, 2018 by elemtilas
    Reply to: What they should do, what they say they do, and what they do
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