A ritual is about making a sacrifice to imbue a moment with symbolic power, and using that power to transform yourself.
I’m really curious where you’re getting the sacrifice part from! Or how important you think it is. Because my experience with rituals doesn’t generally include sacrificing anything; and the bits of sociology I’ve read about ritual (mostly Randall Collins’ book Interaction Ritual Chains) don’t mention it much. It does resonate with perhaps a western-magical perspective?
Yeah, I think the most important bit is the “investing a moment with symbolic power”.
Definitions vary, and come to think of it I’m not sure which piece I read that emphasized the sacrifice element. But I remember the context being “all rituals involve sacrifice – some minor, some major. The default sacrifice is time, even if all you’re doing is getting together to wish someone happy birthday. More significant and resonant sacrifices tend to make the experience more powerful.”
In the birthday example, you’re all sacrificing an evening to transform your relationship with a person [i.e make yourself closer], and transform that person.
I think you can argue that that’s more of a word game than a real argument. But still seems worth noting that rituals with more expenditures of time seem to be more potent. If I stop by my friend’s party for 5 minutes or the office just gathers everyone together to eat a cake before returning to work, that makes us less close than if I spend a whole evening with my friend.
I think “costly signaling” might be a better term than sacrifice. Sometimes it’s not that you’re giving something up per se but that you’re enduring something hard. (At solstice, sitting through some stories that confront some difficult, uncomfortable and/or scary truths).
More precise, maybe. I don’t think it is a better term.
Yeah, I think costly signalling is definitely part of it. I think there’s really several different things going on in the birthday example. One, the friend knows that you decided to spend the evening with them, so they can infer that you want to perform friendship, and/or anticipate having a good time with them, enough to make you decide that. This is the costly signalling part. But then there’s also the stuff that actually happens at the party: talking, laughing together, etc. I think this is what actually accounts for most of the “feeling closer”. (Or perhaps these two effects act on different levels of “feeling closer”).
Anyway this is maybe getting unnecessarily analytical.
Nod. FWIW, I was actually in part referring to costly-signal-to-yourself.
I also agree that there’s probably multiple different levels of feeling closer.