A ceremony may mark a rite of passage in a human life, marking the significance of, for example:
- birth (birthday)
- initiation (college orientation week)
- social adulthood (Bar (or Bat) Mitzvah)
- death (Day of the Dead)
- burial (funeral)
- spiritual (baptism, communion)
Sometimes, a ceremony may only be performed by a person with certain authority. For example, the opening of the United Kingdom Parliament is presided over by the Sovereign (Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II). A captain or a higher-ranked naval officer usually supervises the naming and launching of a warship. A wedding is performed by a priest or a Civil Celebrant, as in Australia. The President of the United States is customarily sworn in by the Chief Justice of the United States, and the British sovereign is always crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Celebration of events
Other, society-wide ceremonies may mark annual or seasonal or recurrent events such as:
- vernal equinox, winter solstice and other annual astronomical positions
- weekly Sabbath day
- inauguration of an elected office-holder
- occasions in a liturgical year or "feasts" in a calendar of saints
Other ceremonies underscore the importance of non-regular special occasions, such as:
In some Asian cultures, ceremonies also play an important social role, for example the tea ceremony.
- I now pronounce you husband and wife.
- I swear to serve and defend the nation ...
- I declare open the games of ...
- I/We dedicate this ... ... to ...
Both physical and verbal components of a ceremony may become part of a liturgy.
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