The Importance of Celebration and Ritual In a Chaotic World

All significant life events that we experience warrant ceremony. We are experiencing constant changes in today’s world – from a shaky economy to the fear of war and terrorism – there is much that is unknown.  One concept that is familiar, that does provide comfort and enables us to express ourselves, is that of ceremony.

The concept of ritual, traditions, and ceremonies is as old as humanity itself, yet we still hold it dear.  Indeed, studies have shown that meaningful rituals are associated with increased marital satisfaction and a heightened sense of personal identity among adolescents.[1]

In addition, rituals provide opportunities for family continuity, as older family members pass along traditions to children.[2]  Family ritual says, in essence, “This is who we are.”[3]

“Ceremonies provide signposts for our lives,” said Charlotte Eulette, National Director of the Celebrant Foundation and Institute.  “Celebrating life’s milestones help to shape our present and mold our future.”

Virtually all life events that we experience–from adoption to divorce to funerals– warrant ceremony.  And yet as membership in formal houses of worship has waned,[4] families may feel at a loss to create their own rituals.

Following are simple ways from the Celebrant Foundation & Institution to mark life’s milestones with ceremony.

REMEMBER YOUR ELDERS:  Include family elders in the creation and performance of family rituals to provide them with a meaningful opportunity to pass down traditions and to give children a sense of belonging to something larger than themselves.

ROLE PLAY:  Give each person in the family a continuing role in recurring ceremonies such as birthdays or holidays.  As people outgrow their specialties, have them transfer their knowledge to a younger member of the group.

INCLUDE THE KIDS:  Let children help create their own meaningful rites of passage for coming of age from adolescence to adulthood by asking them, for example, what they would like to take with them on their journey forward and what they would like to leave behind.

BUILD NEW BRIDGES: Help children and parents adjust to remarriages or shared living arrangements by creating stepfamily ceremonies to acknowledge new relationships, or rituals for moving from one house to another.

REMEMBER LOVED ONES: Use the healing power of ritual to ease family members through painful transitions – create a memorial service to honor a premature or stillborn baby, mark the end of a painful marriage with a healing divorce ceremony, or honor the memory of those who have died by continuing to celebrate their birthdays or by setting their place at the family holiday table.

CELEBRATE MILESTONES:  Use ceremony to mark passages such as retirement or career change, or to commemorate the beginning or end of business relationships.

HOME SWEET HOME: Honor the space that you live in by creating a new house dedication or blessing ceremony.  Have everyone pitch in to plant a tree to truly make the plot your own.

The Celebrant Foundation and Institute is a non-profit educational institution dedicated to helping families personalize celebrations that mark life’s milestones.  Founded thirty years ago in Australia, Celebrants have performed over one million ceremonies worldwide.

Celebrants officiate at virtually every life event, including weddings and commitments, funerals and memorials, and baby namings and adoptions.  With a focus on personalizing each ceremony to reflect the needs, beliefs and values of the couple or family, Celebrants are trained in the art of celebration, symbolism and tradition.

(The preceding is an excerpt from an article from the Celebrant Foundation & Institute)

1[1] Fiese, Tomcho, Douglas et al., “A Review of 50 Years of Research on Naturally Occurring Family Routines & Rituals: Cause for Celebration?” 16 J. Family Psychology 381 (Dec. 2002).
2[2]  Id.
3[3]  Id.
4[4]  Religious Identification Study (of the 81% of respondents who define themselves as “religious”, only 54% live in a household that belongs to a house of worship).



Thank you for considering how I may serve you by collaborating with you to design and officiate at your unique and memorable  Ceremony.

For availability and fee estimate please contact me, I would be glad to answer any questions you may have.   Feel free to call me at 425.770.9243, or email me at

I look forward to speaking with you!

Francis Michael Lee

Significant Ceremonies

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