You’re Going to Throw What at Me?
Updated: Sep 3, 2020
The box of aluminum foil soared through the air, straight toward my head. Thankfully, I had spent a season as a volleyball mom and knew enough to put my hands up to catch it.
Last weekend, I attended a “throw” with full knowledge that food packages and household goods would be flung in my direction. And I loved every minute of it.
When my friend invited me to a feast and a throw at the Acoma Pueblo, I said, “Sure. What’s a throw?”
She explained that someone stood on the roof and tossed gifts to people below. They only ask for prayers and blessings in return.
The feast and throw come from a blending of traditions in the Catholic missions and Native American culture. Each village in the pueblo hosts the feast for the patron saint of their mission. People from families with someone named for the saint do the throwing. Only the tribes in New Mexico hold these throws, and very little information is available on the internet. Google doesn’t know everything.
I was privileged to attend a family celebration in a private home. The large extended family ate in shifts at a long table. Food options included traditional dishes with red or green chili, rice, hominy, and meat and American food—spaghetti, potato salad, watermelon, and cake.
When guests arrived, they would say, “I just came from ______, they are already throwing over there.” Anticipation built.
When it was time for the throw, the hosts took small laundry baskets and boxes full of food and household goods to the roof (or in this case to a high wall).
About forty adults and children lined up to catch the items that were thrown. They filled grocery bags and laundry baskets with treasures. An old man with his oxygen tank caught items that had been gently tossed specifically to him. I could imagine him as a little boy participating in the event. It’s an old tradition.
Items thrown included:
Potato chip bags
Cereal boxes, large and small
And even individually wrapped pickles
The throwing lasted for about half an hour. Heavy and light items flew through the air. I don’t know how everyone avoided injury, but they did. Someone would catch a big box of Cheerios or bottle of dish soap mid-flight. Adults helped the children, and everyone shared.
Why would these people spend so much money for items to throw? My friend put it into perspective when she pointed out that most people receiving the thrown items are grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and other relatives.
It reminded me of the holiday care packages my mother would send to the kids. She loved buying special treats for them on all the holidays—Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter.
I still don’t completely understand the origin or significance of throwing. But the value of family and tradition are evident.
Also, it fosters quick reflexes which could be a useful skill.