Embracing Rituals

Rituals help people transition through what would otherwise be a tumultuous period of their lives. And they let people savor the milestone they have just reached.

Creating stability at times of chaos: Though people associate events like graduations and weddings with joy, these moments also represent chaotic, potentially frightening life transitions. A wedding brings together two people to start a new, interdependent life. Graduation marks leaving the familiar world of school for the unknown world of work and grown-up responsibilities. Funerals and birthdays are two more examples.

In all four cases, there is a before and an after, as people leave their old world and enter into a new, uncertain one — and those transitions can breed anxiety.

It's easy to think that rituals like weddings are pointless and overdone. But that big cake, sparkling white dress or bouquet toss are helping us move through life in a positive and healthy way. There's no need to apologize for embracing it.

Emily Esfahani Smith writing in Mic