The Role of Ritual

April 3rd, 2014

by Sandra Norburn

Ritual plays a role in many secular events; graduation ceremonies, the Oscars, the bestowing of honours, passing out parades, medal ceremonies, even school proms.  At work there are Employee of the Month awards and at wedding receptions a tradition of speeches and ritual practices from cake cutting to first dances.

That such events have developed and proliferate would suggest that people do feel a need to mark the significant events in their lives, to take time to step back and reflect on achievements, or simply to celebrate.

Suzanne Moore’s article articulated her need for a very personal, authentic celebration, and her disenchantment with some humanist ceremonies she has attended. There’s the rub.

Humanist Ceremonies speak to our need for a personal, yet public, dignified yet informal, traditional yet individual ritual.  I’m pretty certain that whoever was the customer at the ceremonies she attended, was more than happy with the end result.

So yes, I think ritual is bigger than religious belief, I think it’s a human need and at certain times in our lives, essential for our emotional well-being.  At other times it’s just great fun to bring together the people you love in celebration.