Friday, October 15, 2010


Habits, we all have them.  Routines and habits make us human.    If you have to have a cup of coffee to 'get going' in the morning you have a routine.  I know I shower first upon waking, which is my morning routine.
On the other hand, if you fidget with a piece of tape (preferably Scotch brand, thank you) while watching television, you have a habit.
The difference between a habit and ritual is a sense of mythic significance.  A ritual is a ceremonial action, consciously performed and intended to bring about a specific end.  Rituals are important parts of anthropology and often related to religious or cultural practices, but this is not required.

When I was younger the cinema where I grew up had a reel that showed before the feature film but after the previews.  It was the standard "thanks for coming, get some snacks, don't annoy your fellow patrons" bit.  During one part of the reel a box of popcorn tipped over spilling the kernels out and as they flew by they were revealed to be hats.  Pith helmets, actually, but headgear all the same.  The first time I saw this I stated to my date and everyone within three rows, "They're hats!"  Easily amused, I know.
From that day forth I did this every time I saw the reel.  I even got to the point where I prefaced my declaration by saying, "Now is the time for the ritual...They're Hats!"

Technically that might be a habit, but it had taken on a compulsive quality.  I also eat the pickle off the bun of a my Chic Fil A sandwich first and take a bit of the crown before reassembling the sandwich to eat it.  It has taken on a ritual significance.  Should I not do this the food will not taste right.

Holidays have their rituals as well, both cultural and personal.
Trick or Treating is a Halloween ritual that has cultural significance.  You can include in this carving Jack O Lanterns and bobbing for apples.

Personal rituals of my own for the Halloween season include:

1. Every year, starting around October 1, I read the novelization of the film Halloween.
2. Watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown at least once.
3. Watching Hocus Pocus (the Disney film with Bette Midler).
4. Bonfire.  Very important to my Irish grandfather's people, once upon a time.  Let's face it, if I don't do this the Sun might not come back.
5. Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights.  At least one box, sometimes more.
6. No longer do I dance around the front yard wearing nothing but furry boots and a flannel shirt tied around my waist consecrating the yard to the "Lord of the Harvest" since I lost my "Lord of the Harvest" icon (ceramic Jack O Lantern with a witch hat and a black cat sitting on corn stalks...the less said about all of this the better).

These are my rituals and without them I just don't feel like I've had a proper Halloween season.  Rituals are important; they are part of what make us a culture instead of just lifeforms existing on the planet for no good purpose.


  1. I didn't know you had an Irish Grandfather!! He must be on your mom's side. I also saw where you put on facebook that you saw your dad and I get it he did raise you but it would be nice to see your REAL dad and the rest of us!!!!!!
    Racheal your sister!

  2. Yes, he was on my mother's side, obviously.