Stein and Stein

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Analysis of a Ritual
Justine Martin
Anthropology 1130

Stein and Stein (2011) delineate ritual as a patterned, recurring sequence of behaviors. Also, Stein and Stein (2011) define ritual as an essential component of religious practise. It may be prescribed by the traditions of a community; not all rituals are religious. The term usually refers to actions which are stylized, excluding actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers. A ritual may be performed on specific occasions, or at the preference of individuals or communities. It may be performed by a single individual, by a group, or by the entire community; in random places, or in places especially reserved for it; either in public, or in private. A ritual may be restricted to a certain division of the community, and may enable or underscore the passage between religious or social statuses. Moving onward, the purpose of a ritual varies. With religious obligations or ideals purposes vary from, satisfaction of spiritual or emotional needs of the practitioners, strengthening of social bonds, social and moral education, demonstration of respect or submission, stating one's affiliation, obtaining social acceptance or approval for some event. It may also be for just pleasure itself. Anthony Wallace stated that “ritual is religion in action; it is the cutting edge of the tool. Belief, although its recitation may be part of the ritual, or a ritual in its own right, serves to explain, to rationalize, to interpret and direct the energy of the ritual performance … it is ritual which accomplishes what religion sets out to do” (Wallace, 1966, p.102). The ritual that I decided to observe was my mom and her twins 43rd birthday. A birthday is a day when a person celebrates the anniversary of his or her birth. Birthdays are celebrated in numerous cultures, often with a gift, party, or rite of passage. The celebration of a birthday usually is thought to mark how old a person is, traditionally stopping when...
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