Now is the time of year when we often participate in or perform holiday rituals. Of course, many are religious, as every religion has its rituals. However, not all rituals are religious in nature. We may have family holiday traditions that have become ritual celebrations, like decorating trees & homes, visiting family, the way we ring in the new year on New Year's Eve, even New Year's Day carries certain rituals for some to set the tone for a prosperous & healthy new year.
Rituals also can be everyday events like aspects of your morning routine, for example, making your morning coffee or tea, bathing & dressing, the way you put your children to bed each evening, even planting & tending your garden can be ritualistic.
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines "Ritual" as
"a set of fixed actions and sometimes words performed regularly, especially as part of a ceremony.
a set of actions or words performed in a regular way, often as part of a religious ceremony.
a ritual is also any act done regularly, usually without thinking about it."
Contrary to the above definitions, yes, I’m going against the Cambridge English Dictionary here, I don't believe that practices must be performed regularly to have the status of a "ritual."
And, although intellectually I know the last definition is accurate it doesn’t feel right. For me, true rituals aren't done mindlessly. Those types of mindless practices seem more like routines or habits.
To me, rituals feel more special than that and are practiced with great thought, care and intention, whether or not practiced regularly. However, they need not be complicated or only for special occasions.
You may wish to consider the following questions, if the topic of rituals is of interest.
Where do you already practice rituals during your holiday season or your everyday?
Where can you bring more mindful intention to your routines & habits and bring them to the level of ceremony or special ritual?
Is there anywhere you'd like to add a special ritual in your daily life or to commemorate certain events?
Rituals can be simple or elaborate. Here are 3 ways to create simple rituals out of everyday activities this season and beyond:
1. Intention. Know why you are performing the task or celebration as a ritual. What is the purpose and why is making it feel special important to you.
2. Attention. Keep your attention on what you are doing through the whole process. Mindfully completing each step, helps us notice and acknowledge the importance of each part of the whole and creates an appreciation of the process as well as appreciation of self and others (if in attendance).
3. Ceremony. What would make the activity or celebration feel unique or significant to you? In other words, what would help you achieve your answer to #1. Special items like candles, incense, essential oils, music, etc., can create ambiance for your ritual if that feels right, but these are not necessary to create ceremony. Your attention does this in part, but simple words and/or a special attitude (your energy) can elevate everyday tasks to rituals, making them feel more important and memorable. I find the simple act of slowing down can create ceremony without needing any additional items other than what is required for the task -- coffee, coffee pot, water ;-)
You can practice rituals solo or with others if you wish no matter the occasion.
I believe we could all use more rituals, making our everyday more special. So spoil yourself. You deserve it.
P.S. I'm holding a Solstice Ritual on December 21st. Check out the link below for more details. I'd love to see you, but if you can't make it you may want to consider doing a little ritual on your own that evening and join us in spirit! ;-)