Every society has rites of passage. If you want to begin to understand any society, study its rites of passage.
In the Christian West, there are three acknowledged rites of passage: baptism, marriage, and funeral. Obviously, a funeral is a rite of passage for the survivors. Nobody wears street clothes — other than a mortician’s street clothes — when he is invited by somebody else to one of these rites of passage.
Every society has additional rites of passage. There is usually a rite of passage associated with advancing from childhood to adulthood. I love the writings of Jean Shepherd, who wrote A Christmas Story. I think his greatest story was “Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories.” There, he established the connection between a tribal rite of passage for young men with the senior prom.
School Rites vs. Parental Rights
One of the rites of passage that apparently I am the only one who has recognized is what I call the dorm key ritual. When a parent takes his child to register in a college dorm, the person at the front desk hands the room key to the freshman student, not to the parent. The parent is paying for the room, but the student gets the key. Whether parents recognize this or not, this is one of the major rites of passage for about a third of the American population…… Read More