This website was created by members of Anthropology 175: Peoples of the World at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio (Fall, 2004). The pages on this site provide anthropological perspectives on celebrations from around the world.
People everywhere celebrate culturally important events such as transitions through the life cycle (e.g., birth, puberty, death), work (e.g., harvest festivals), the seasons, and sacred religious dates (Turner 1982:11-12). Because of their communal nature, celebrations can clarify, reinforce, or challenge cultural norms and the existing social order. The creativity of celebratory behavior and the symbols used in celebration (including song, dance, and artifacts) are rich sources of information about the values, ideals, hopes and fears of any culture.
This project introduces students to the anthropological study of patterned behavior and demonstrates the varied forms of celebration across the globe. Each webpage to the left contains sections describing the origins and context of a specific celebration, with a description and interpretation. What kind of celebration is this (e.g., rite of passage)? Which culturally specific ideas does the celebration reinforce or challenge? Because objects used in celebration are often richly symbolic, each page also includes an object used in the celebration. These pages demonstrate the power of celebration as cultural expression.
Turner, Victor, ed.
1982 Celebration: Studies in Ritual and Festivity . Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C.
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