Does Ritual Depend on Shared Beliefs or Does It Create Them? Essay

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Does ritual depend on shared beliefs or does it create them? The Oxford Dictionary states the definition of ritual as ‘a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order’. Lukes’ definition of ritual is ‘…rule-governed activity of a symbolic character which draws the attention of the participants to objects of thought and feeling which they hold to be of special significance’(S. Lukes, 1975, pp.291). In this essay I will outline different rituals and argue whether they depend on a shared belief or whether they create these beliefs. Some familiar rituals such as Christmas Day and Easter come from a religious belief. These rituals began many years ago and only formed because of a religious, Christian, belief in God. People would celebrate Christmas by lighting a candle for Jesus and thanking God for all he has done for them. Small gifts would be given to members of the family to represent gifts the wise men had brought for Jesus when he was born. In more modern times, however, many people will celebrate Christmas and Easter with no such belief in any God or Jesus at all, it is a child’s belief in the Easter Bunny or Father Christmas that compels people to participate in these rituals and celebrate these occasions. Huge amounts of gifts are given and large amounts of money spent to be sure to have a great Christmas. For many people now it is not so much about celebrating the life of Jesus any more but about making sure your child has the latest console with games. If Christmas is celebrated in many families with no belief in God or Jesus then according to the Oxford English Dictionary, which states “ritual is a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order.” Is it no longer a ritual but more of a tradition? Even without the religious

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