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|Groundbreaking ceremony in Los Angeles, California (1933), featuring a steam shovel|
Groundbreaking, also known as cutting, sod-cutting, turning the first sod, or a sod-turning ceremony, is a traditional ceremony in many cultures that celebrates the first day of construction for a building or other project. Such ceremonies are often attended by dignitaries such as politicians and businesspeople.
The actual shovel used during the groundbreaking is often a special ceremonial shovel, sometimes colored gold, meant to be saved for subsequent display and may be engraved. In other groundbreaking ceremonies, a bulldozer is used instead of a shovel to mark the first day of construction. In some groundbreaking ceremonies, the shovel and the bulldozer mark the first day of construction. 
Groundbreaking ceremonies have been celebrated for centuries in an attempt to begin the construction of a property, thanking those who made it possible. Though adapted to modern times, these ceremonies are still important to the construction industry. Early ceremonies were rooted in religion; by now, their basic foundations have still stood the test of time.
Initially, some offerings/refreshments were also used to offer in such ceremonies, including;
- Tea leaves
- Sacred items, like holy coins and relics. 
Historical Groundbreaking Ceremonies
The first documented groundbreaking ceremony took place in ancient China, in 113 BC. Later, the tradition of symbolically consecrating the project's location became a part of Hindu, Taoist, Shinto, Buddhist, and Feng Shui traditions. Historically, these are some notable events that were inaugurated by groundbreaking ceremonies.
- The festival for the Washington Monument in 1848; was hosted by President James K. Polk.
- The ceremony for the Parliament House in Melbourne, Australia in 1980; the event was held for Queen Elizabeth.
- The opening of LA Clippers stadium in Inglewood, CA; the ceremony was attended by the Mayor of the city, Jerry West, and Lawrence Frank.
Modern groundbreaking ceremonies
The reason for holding groundbreaking ceremonies in today's world has little or nothing to do with religion.
Today, groundbreaking serves as a publicity activity for generating interest in a new project/building or positive media coverage for political leaders.
Usually, the project developer organizes groundbreaking ceremonies to attract clients and reflect positive impacts on the community, customers/clients, and employees.
Often such ceremonies also incorporate speeches by people of influence, like the founder of the company, a celebrity, or a known politician/member of the community.
To create a lasting impression of the company and the ceremony, gifts, including shovels, hardhats, etc., are sometimes given to participants/attendees.
Nowadays, real estate companies are trying different approaches to their groundbreaking ceremonies to stand out among their competitors and draw media attention.
A Los Angeles developer Lowe Enterprises, hosted a “wall raising” in 1997 to draw attention to the start of their building project. Another developer from Santa Monica hosted a “bottoming out” party to mark the completion of their parking garage’s lowest level.
A Hollywood developer, TrizecHahn, practiced another unconventional ceremony. The company hosted a costly groundbreaking event for its $350-million Hollywood & Highland entertainment-retail project. The event was served by Music producer Quincy Jones and catered by the famed chef Wolfgang Puck. 
Groundbreaking ceremony with shovels, marking the start of construction of the new Städel Museum in Frankfurt am Main on September 6, 2009.
Engraved shovel prepared for the groundbreaking ceremony of the new Städel Museum.
Groundbreaking ceremony with an excavator, marking the start of construction of the new Line 6 of the Santiago Metro on September 13, 2012, in which President Sebastián Piñera (fourth from left) took part.
Turning the first sod at Sault Ste-Marie. July 30, 1890, on the first publicly owned power canal constructed in Canada, for the general distribution of power for industrial purposes.
Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño participates alongside the mayor of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, Angel García, for the official ceremony of the new construction of the Urban Center and Plaza.
- ^ Wise, Jeremy. "Officials break ground on Wiregrass Public Safety Center". Archived from the original on 2021-07-31. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
- ^ "TSMC has started construction of its 5nm 'Fab 18' in Taiwan". HEXUS. January 26, 2018. Archived from the original on July 31, 2021. Retrieved October 1, 2021.
- ^ a b c d Dustin (2022-01-18). "The History and Importance of Groundbreaking Ceremonies". Perlo Construction. Retrieved 2022-10-31.
- ^ Sanchez, Jesus (1999-04-13). "Last Rites for the Groundbreaking Tradition?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2022-10-31.
- Media related to Ground-breaking ceremonies at Wikimedia Commons