With Ben's graduation (SO proud!), I've been thinking a lot on the topic of ceremonies. Why we have them and what their purpose really is. Why we, as humans, find the need to mark the stages in our life with grand events. Graduations, weddings, showers, retirement parties, 21st birthdays, etc. Why not just do them in private and forget the big to-do? Are the ceremonies really necessary?
I believe they're critical in understanding who we are.
If you look at your life as one giant, multifaceted medieval castle (yes, I have a fascination with castles), with leaning towers and hidden staircases (and trolls with oversized heads), those ceremonies are like the huge, wooden doors to each room. Sort of like an access point. It's a marker for our brain, a way to remember the significance of a certain point, to quantify a stage in our life, and stuff it full with appropriate memories. It marks the end of one chapter, and beginning of the next. They are the binder tabs for quick reference to a very, very detailed chapter. Without them, our life sort of blurs together and those events turn into a blob of homogenous green goop. But even more importantly, they outline who we are.
We are a culmination of our life experiences. And the way they all fit together is our story. Each is unique to us, each has its own voice, its own supporting cast, its own setting. Each has its own villain, its own mystery. Some are so exciting we live on the edge of our seats, some are filled with things that go bump in the night (I don't like those kinds), and some still are content to have none of these and spend their evenings watching birds (*clears throat*)...
It's the very same with the characters we write. There should be visible markers along the way, of progress and/or regress. A way to track a character arc. Show the "ceremonies" of society and how our characters interact with them if you really want to know who they are. Do they graduate or not? Does your world even have graduation ceremonies? Do they marry or does your culture not recognize it? These little markers, however you use them, are items we can attribute to "character", and it helps us understand what kind of person your character is. The ceremonies you use may or may not be the traditional sort, and the way you do them may be totally out of order.
The more I write, the more parallels I seem to find between my MC and my own life. Not that I'm on some grand adventure (though many times it feels like that), but realizing our MC's aren't the only ones with a story to tell. We do, too. We all have a beginning and an end, and lots of pages in between with little ceremonial tabs to mark the chapters. It is our legacy. So then my question is, do you like what you're reading?
Also, for you writers, do you employ the idea of ceremonies in your world-building?