Why rituals are important survival tools during the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 has disrupted many aspects of daily life, including rituals both sacred and mundane. At the same time, the pandemic has opened a unique opportunity globally to adapt rituals to meet new needs and respond to new challenges.

Rituals are social conventions that range from religious ceremonies like baptisms and bat mitzvahs to simple greetings like handshakes.

I study what rituals reveal about our minds, nature and culture. They are not arbitrary, capricious or random. Instead, they serve critical social functions such as welcoming newborns into families, celebrating graduations and marriages and mourning loved ones who’ve died. Rituals also promote solidarity by allowing communities to express their shared goals and values. …

Rituals around greetings and social support have also changed. Handshakes, kisses on the cheeks or lips and physical embraces have been replaced by elbow bumps, air kisses and virtual hugs.

By Cristine H Legare, The University of Texas at Austin for The Conversation

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