The basic definition of ceremony is, “a formal event held on a special occasion.” The word ‘formal’ is a little misleading. A ceremony doesn’t have to be formal in the sense of it being a fancy dress-up affair. A ceremony can be informal, casual, and relaxed. I prefer the word ‘intentional’ to ‘formal.’ A ceremony is an intentional event held on a special occasion. The ‘specialness’ of the occasion is completely up to you! The special occasion could be a wedding, a memorial, the purchase of a new home, a baby blessing, a holiday, or your cat’s birthday! Whatever you want to celebrate or honor could be a special occasion.
This time of year, special occasions are abundant. Many in the Christian tradition are celebrating Christmas. Those of the Jewish faith are observing Hanukkah. Kwanzaa is marked by many honoring African culture and the first fruits of the harvest. New Year celebrations honor the change of the calendar and the hopes for the future that come with it. Each of these special occasions is intentionally marked by a ceremony ~ formal or informal ~ that is meaningful to its adherents. These ceremonies might take place in large groups (such as in Times Square on New Year’s Eve) or small gatherings (like a family gathered around the Menorah). Ceremony gives special significance to holidays, inviting people to take a moment to reflect on the meaning of the day or season.
What holiday ceremonies have you found meaningful? Do you prefer formal or informal ceremonies? If you don’t usually participate in ceremonies, do you think you would benefit from the practice of intentionally marking a holiday or season? What are your plans for celebrating the holidays?