What is the difference between a rite and a ritual?
All significant events in our lives consist of rites and rituals. We look forward and participate in these ceremonies as an affirmation of our place in our culture and society.
A rite is a formal religious or non-religious ceremony. It can be a stage in life, for example the ‘Rite of Passage’ is used to describe the process from adolescence to adulthood. Usually a Rite is confined to the religious sphere of our life experiences.
Civil Celebrants are usually contacted to help families celebrate births (Naming ceremonies), Coming of Age (18th and 21st Birthdays), Marriages or commitment ceremonies and also to celebrate a life well lived, or cut short. A way of saying goodbye to one stage of life and moving into the next stage no matter how difficult or confusing that may be.
Rituals are part of our everyday life and can also be described as part of a rite.
Confused? Let me explain!
In New Zealand Maori culture the ‘Haka’ is a Rite that is used prior to battle (real or on the sports field!). The different parts of the Haka are set out in ritual steps that are unchanged in each performance of the rite.
The wedding ceremony can be a ‘rite’ however the steps included in the ceremony are rituals that complete the rite.
Rituals are also part of our life. What is your ritual for going to bed at night? Clean your teeth, change into your bed clothes, turn out the light, get into bed. Some people do this in different ways and these little rituals in our life can be the cause of many little disagreements when we start our lives together as a couple. Take a few moments to remember some of the different rituals that your partner had that you both had to adjust to.
A ritual is a repeated set of steps as a prescribed method for performing a ceremony, religious or otherwise.
Your ceremony itself is a ritual that has developed over time across many different cultures and continues to evolve as couples seek to combine the traditional with the personal. It may be an added element to the ceremony itself or something as simple as placing the wedding photographs of beloved grandparents and parents on the signing table for all to see.
As an experienced celebrant, I am happy to include any element into your ceremony so that you day is special and meaningful to you.
I list here some elements that can be included. Some of these have become popular for special locations. For instance, the Sand ceremony is popular at beach weddings and the Rose ceremony is popular at garden weddings. However, really any element can be added to any ceremony. I usually talk to the bridal couple to find out the reason they want to use the elements. I believe that if it does not have a significant meaning to the couple there may not be a point of having it.
I recently created an affirmation ceremony for a couple who were having a ceremony for the family after a private wedding in Greece. While overseas they visited Rome and purchased a Rosary that had been blessed by the Pope. They wanted to include this Rosary into the wedding but did not know how. The bride was of Spanish descent.
I suggested using a form of the Lasso ceremony, where the bride and groom wind the Rosary around their joined wrists. This was used and was very meaningful to the whole family.
Some popular Rituals