"is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and
objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to
Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions
of a community,
including a religious
community. Rituals are characterized by formalism,
traditionalism, invariance, rule-governance, sacral symbolism and
Rituals of various kinds are a feature of almost[citation
needed] all known human societies, past or present. They
include not only the various worship
rites and sacraments
of organized religions and cults, but also the rites
of passage of certain societies, atonement and purification
of allegiance, dedication ceremonies, coronations
and presidential inaugurations, marriages and funerals, school "rush"
traditions and graduations, club meetings, sports events, Halloween
parties, veterans parades, Christmas
shopping and more. Many activities that are ostensibly performed for
concrete purposes, such as jury
of criminals, and scientific symposia,
are loaded with purely symbolic actions prescribed by regulations or
tradition, and thus partly ritualistic in nature. Even common actions
and saying hello may
be termed rituals.
The field of ritual studies has seen a
number of conflicting definitions of the term. One given by
Kyriakidis is that a ritual is an outsider's or "etic"
category for a set activity (or set of actions) that, to the
outsider, seems irrational, non-contiguous, or illogical. The term
can be used also by the insider or "emic"
performer as an acknowledgement that this activity can be seen as
such by the uninitiated onlooker.
the term ritual is sometimes used in a technical sense for a
repetitive behavior systematically used by a person to neutralize or
prevent anxiety; it is a symptom of obsessive–compulsive