What native tribe used to give much food as a gift. The people ate too much and then vomited so they could eat more. What is the name for this custom?

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    Is there any evidence that such a custom existed? It sounds to me like this conflates potlach with the myth of the vomitorium. – Mark C. Wallace Jun 12 '18 at 9:10
  • Thank you so much! The word is potlatch. Now I can research more about this. I had an idea that I should have more information on the subject but I could not remember the details. – Joy Jantzi Jun 14 '18 at 1:20

The existence of vomitoriums is associated with ancient rich Romans, although it is only a myth and actually it refers to something else.

It is a common misconception that ancient rich Romans used to eat too much, went to vomitoriums to vomit and then returned back to eat again.

Actually, it was the stadium, ampitheater and other public space entrances for the crowds which were referred to as vomitoriums as it could be used to facilitate quick movement of crowd in and out of the building.

For example, the Roman Colosseum had 76 entrances at ground label and the entire venue could be filled up with 50,000 people in just 15 minutes.

This misconception probably first appeared when author Aldous Huxley used the term in his comic novel Antic Hay in 1929. However French journalist and politician Felix Pyat used the term before in 1871 describing an account of Christmas in England which may have also accounted for this misconception. English writer Augustus Hare also makes a reference to vomitorium of Roman era. Also Los Angels Times had published two articles in 1927 and 1929 mentioning vomitorium.

However no true ancient source exists to establish the theory of vomitorium.






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That, as far as I know, never happened. Vomitorium is the nickname of the entrances to the Colosseum. When the games were over, it sort looked like the people were 'spewed out of it', hence the nickname.

As for the Roman custom to binge eat, vomit it out and do it again: we have much more food available than even the richest Roman could dream of. We don't do it, because it's very uncomfortable and unhygienic to say the least.

Assume you have as much of your favorite food as you want. Only little children eat so much chocolate, pudding or cake that they have to vomit it out. Very soon they learn it simply isn't worth the effort.

It happens quite often with drinking too much alcohol, but the same applies. Less experienced drinkers over-drink, up to the point they have to vomit. Where I live (Bangkok) it's not uncommon to see signs in bars 'cleaning up vomit: Bt. 75'. Those bars are almost always in student areas. I'm pretty sure first year students have to pay that fee more often. If you are more mature and drink that much, you have a serious alcohol problem.

It's not impossible that ancient hunter-gatherer tribes when the hunt was lucky ate as much as possible, up to the point of vomiting the surplus out. But that had a good reason. They had almost no way to preserve food (meat in particular) for later usage. They had two options: eat enough, and let the surplus rot away, or overeat. In that case they would keep some of the food in their body. That still happens in very primitive tribes today, those tribes are barely in the stone age, though.

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