The Importance of Ceremony and Ritual

A ritual wine sharing is symbolic on many levels. (Photo by Michael Straub)

We are experiencing constant insecurity in today’s world. There is much that is unknown.  But one concept that is familiar, provides comfort, and helps us express ourselves, is that of ceremony.  The concepts of ritual, tradition and ceremony are as old as humanity, yet still very relevant.  Meaningful rituals have been shown to heighten a sense of personal identity, and promote good health.  Rituals also provide opportunities for family connection and continuity.  Ritual says, in essence, ‘this is who I am.’

Ceremonies provide signposts for our lives.  Celebrating a milestone helps shape the present and mold our future. Virtually all ‘big’ life events warrant ceremony. But if you are not a member of a formal house of worship, what do you do?

There are some wonderful ways to create or adapt much-loved traditions so they work for you. You can enhance your wedding, or other ceremony, by personalizing it, with the cooperation of your officiant, or on your own. Here are some tips on ways to do just that.

Honor parents or family elders by including them in your wedding ceremony with a presentation or sharing a story about them. And involve children in much the same way by encouraging them to participate by reading a poem, making a program booklet or display, or helping with seating, music selection, or other real tasks.

Express your cultural heritage or interests in the ceremony through choices in readings, music, and cultural rituals such as a Celtic ‘handfasting’ or the African-American ‘jumping the broom.’  You can sharing food or wine, ring bells, exchange flowers, and countless other symbolic acts.

Tell your story, honoring your journey, and sharing it with your guests.

As a Celebrant I officiate at life’s ‘big’ events, especially weddings. My focus is on personalizing each wedding to reflect the needs, beliefs and values of the couple, whether secular, spiritual, inter-faith, multicultural, or simply anyone who wants a ceremony that is a celebration of their unique marriage commitment. But you don’t need me, you, too, can bring your own touches to your ceremony and create new rituals for you and your family. Perhaps you can create something that will be carried forward into the future, for generations to come.

Thank you Michael Straub  for your wonderful photo!

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