The History of Rites of Passage

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“The History of Rites of Passage”
Stacey M. Robertson ANT101: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology July 29, 2013
We are all familiar with the term “Rite of Passage” in one way or another. But do we really know some of the extremes that people in other countries go to in order to achieve that coveted goal that most have waited so long for? Rites of passage can range from a simple Baptism all the way to Sepik scarification, depending on the part of the world, religion and tribes, and even gangs. This paper will explain some of the history behind Rites of Passage and why they are so important for some people to achieve them. Ceremonies that mark important transitional times in one’s life, such as birth, graduation, marriage, bar mitzvahs, quinceaneras, and death just to name a few. Rites of passage usually involve ritual trials and teachings intended to strip individuals of their original roles and prepare them for new roles. Rites of passage can be coming of age, religious, academic, military, professional, and cultural. People in tribes and certain societies take these rituals very seriously and most go through tremendous amounts of pain to prove themselves worthy to reach that next status. For most, it is all about the respect of their people and the dignity of their family. Now of course there are some of the more harsh rituals such as Vanuatu Land Diving where boys as young as five jump from heights up to 100 feet with twine around their ankles. The goal is to only touch their shoulders to the ground and any miscalculation could end in serious injury or...
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