When I was in undergraduate at Arizona State, I took this course called Ritual, Symbol, and Myth. I am pretty sure they still offer it, REL 207, for anyone interested. The professor of the class was a brilliant young professor out of Princeton. It was a great class because the professor, Dr. Jason Bruner, was an incredible storyteller. The class was at 1:30pm in the afternoon so everyone arrived to class rather jovial and with full bellies. There were conversations encompassing all imaginable religions and philosophies. Everyone was so understanding and open with one another as we shared our most personal religious stories, insights, opinions, experiences, disagreements, and objections.
Never once was there any hostility in the classroom. The craziest part is that nobody mentioned the surprising peacefulness of the room either. Nobody ever commented on how compassionate we, as a class, were able to discuss every religious philosophy and scientific theory under the sun and still have no open hostility toward one other.
Looking back on that class experience, I feel grateful to have been a part of such awesome conversations about the unknowns of the universe. I truly enjoyed hearing about the religious experiences of every single one of my classmates; even though many of their religious experiences were different from my own. The commonality we continually found in class was that our of religious experiences all involved traditions and rituals; many which were performed annually, monthly, weekly, or daily with of our closest friends and family members at specific times of the day.
Getting a big group of your friends and family together is a holiday in itself. Whenever you ritualistically bring groups of people together, a tradition forms! Traditions can be as simple as gathering a group of people together in the same place, or they can involve games, activities, food, music, sports, clothing, etc.
My professor, Dr. Bruner, spent a lot of time discussing the importance of the ritualistic element in all traditions. He used the story of a baseball player to describe how a ritual can be used, as what we would consider a 'modern psychological tool', for personal performance enhancement.
So what are rituals? Rituals are something help you satisfy your innate desire for routine. They also help you enjoy the positive experiences in life when you feel anxious, overwhelmed, sad, and frazzled. When a batter stands up to the mound, he is surrounded by tens of thousands of people that are cheering and booing all at the same time. The energy is electric, and even the best batters can get unnerved by these situations; especially if the game is close.
Thats why many baseball players develop rituals. Do they work? Well, fortunately it doesn't matter if rituals work on a 'super-natural, mystical, religious' level. Because scientists have shown that going through a set, repeated, process [a ritual] can make difficult and unnerving activities more pleasurable. Read, Rituals Enhance Consumption, a University of Minnesota and Harvard publication for data sets and detailed experiment methods.
An article written by Tom Singer from MLB.com titled, Rituals, Superstitions Help Players Feel at Ease, highlights the importance of ritual in major league baseball, which translates to being important in everyday life because [baseball = life] according to most Americans.
"Baseball has always elevated that trust in routine and order to an art form. Superstitions (rituals) are as old as the hook slide, from minor tics to major regimens. They have a natural place in an everyday sport (we say life), offering a steady platform as the cities and the months swoosh by."
Singer also quotes Bob Melvin in this article, the former Diamondbacks skipper now with the Oakland A's,
"Superstitions (rituals) for me are just a way to occupy my mind and try to stay consistent when you're doing something right," Melvin explained. "It's all about staying on a routine when you're doing well to try and continue that mind-set of doing well. You get on a little bit of a win streak and you notice something, and so you just try to keep it consistent."
Side note: At the culmination of the baseball ritual discussion the class then considered, 'If baseball players use rituals, and rituals are associated with religion, can baseball be considered a religious organization? And then is going to a game considered going to church?'
[Husbands rejoice everywhere...]
The holidays can be super hectic with all parties for work, gathering with friends, shopping for gifts, preparing yourself to spend time with family, throwing lavish and amazing parties, cooking yummy amazing food, etc. So thats why at Little Teether we want you to bounce back from all the holiday craziness by developing your own rituals this year. And maybe they will catch on with all your friends and family and eventually become a tradition!
You can make a ritual out of lighting a candle every morning when you first wake up, having coffee in the same cup each day this month, singing or playing the same song to your beautiful baby each morning, or reading a Christmas story after dinner with your family gathered around the fire!
[...of course while wearing your beautiful teething necklace from Little Teether, so baby is distracted from trying to flip the pages!
Having a ritual to rely on amongst all of the changes that occur during the holidays will help you reduce your levels of stress. Developing holiday rituals might even add an new element of fun! If you decide to do your rituals with your adorable babies, you may also create a new sense of bonding with them. Yay!
We love babies at Little Teether so we are super excited to celebrate anything that helps bonding with your new baby! Celebrating babies around Christmas time is also super fun. We love all beautiful bright baby bows, sparkles, glistening lights, & warm, fuzzy, and little outfits that we dress babies up in for the holiday season. Dressing your baby up in a different holiday outfit each day would be a great ritual.
We would love to hear some of your favorite holiday rituals!
Comment below to share stories about your favorite rituals, traditions, and religious celebrations.