One of the things that most strongly differentiates modern from traditional societies is the business of rituals. Broadly speaking, modern ones have very few of them; Traditional ones have a lot of them. What is a ritual? It’s a periodic invitation by your society, typically by its religion, to come together with other people for an event that marks an occasion, often of an underlying spiritual or psychological nature. Perhaps it’s the start of the year, the birthday of a God, a day to apologize, or a moment to feel grateful for springtime, or the love of now dead relatives. And so you dance, say some rather formal words, eat an unusual food, or wear special clothes. And by doing all this, you are, somehow, helped. Purged in some way. Helped to grow, transition to a new stage, reconnect to an important idea, or guided to inner peace. What marks out modern societies is how ruthlessly they’ve stripped back rituals. Largely because they get in the way of making money. To generalize, when societies become modern, rituals drop out of the calendar and the main focus starts to be private and work life, and not much in between. A key part of understanding our own times is therefore to grasp the history of rituals. What they have been, where they’ve gone,
and in what ways we might be missing them today? Rome, 17th December, 150 AD It’s the first day of a three-day
celebration known as the Saturnalia: a ritual festival in honor of Saturn, Roman
God of wealth and agriculture. The Saturnalia is a time of ecstatic release
and exuberance. The Roman poet Catullus describes the occasion as “the best of
times.” All the normal social codes and rules
are temporarily put on hold or turned upside down. Masters are expected to look after their
slaves and parents to obey their children. Slaves can’t even insult and
poke fun at their masters with complete impunity. Important magistrate and public officials wear colorful sometimes silly clothes and cones on their heads. Your meant to shout “Io Saturnalia” at
strangers when you pass them in the street. Married couples can have affairs and no
one is meant to be unduly upset. Women can make the first move on men or sleep with one another. There are orgies and you can gamble and
drink as much as you like. Then after three days of fun everything
comes to a stern halt and order is restored but life feels a lot less
bitter and oppressive. The slave is back to his dinner duties
but the memory of having called his master a shit lighten his burdens. The mistress of the house is back to putting up with her boorish husband but the two nights with
a hairdresser make a sarcasm and dullness importantly more bearable. Across Rome a great many people can’t wait for the 17th of December to
roll around again. Alexandria, Egypt, 10th day of Tishrei, 969 AD It is shortly after the beginning of the Jewish new year, in one of the thriving centers of Jewish life, under the protection of benevolent Arab rule. The Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur is a Solomon critical event in the Hebrew
calendar. Leviticus instruct that on this date all
Jews must set aside their usual family and commercial activities and mentally review their actions over the preceding year. Identifying all those whom they’ve hurt
or behaved unjustly towards. The ritual festival is kicked off by the blowing of the shofar: a hollowed-out ram’s horn. Then together in a synagogue the Jewish
community repeat in prayer: “we have sinned we have acted
treacherously.” They then seek out those whom they frustrated, angered, discarded
casually or otherwise betrayed. And offer them their fullest contrition. This is God’s will, and a rare opportunity for blanket forgiveness. “All the people are in Fault” says the
pray and “so make all the people of Israel be forgiven including all the strangers who live in their midst.” The day of Atonement has the immense advantage of making the idea of saying sorry look like it came from somewhere else
neither the idea of the perpetrator nor of the victim. Under the assumed eye of a benevolent God, it allows everyone a chance to make a
clean break and move on. Medina, June 12, 10 AD It’s the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, marking the first revelation of the Quran to
Muhammad. As one of the five pillars of Islam fasting is obligatory for virtually all
Muslims, requiring abstinence from sex as well as smoking swearing and violence. Fasting is believed to cleanse the soul
by removing from it worldly concerns and focusing on God
alone. It’s admired as a way to teach self-discipline, self-control and empathy for those less fortunate. Adherence to Ramadan will provide strength and spiritual growth for the upcoming year. Ramadan gives vital encouragement to an
enduring human desire: the wish to start a fresh, reform oneself and lead a better life hence forth. But rather than these ambitions being left to the individual alone, Islam wisely creates a collective moment
to strengthen the will and it finds a fitting physical activity to support
what is at heart a spiritual endeavor. Gazelle Peninsula, Papua New Guinea, 1652 A mother has come to visit her adult daughter and grandchildren, for a few weeks in a village community of the Baining tribe. Now it’s time to say farewell. There is sadness all around and the
mother and her guide head off through thickly forested hills. It may be a long time to mother and
daughter will see each other again. The Baining have developed a special
word to describe the feeling that can come over you when a friend or relative you love has
left. They call it “Awunbuk”. Symptoms of Awunbuk include sleeping in, losing a sense of purpose and an inclination to burst into tears. But the Baining have also developed an
accompanying ritual to deal with the sadness of Awunbuk: The people who have been left are granted three days during which they’re not expected to do any
gardening or hunting. Everyone is supposed to behave very
gently around them. Then, on the third day the sufferers have to leave a coconut shell of water on the veranda of their house. It’s believed to soak up sadness and
with a few ritual words they then throw the water out into the garden there by
purging their emotions and signaling a return to active life. The ritual of Awunbuk is similar to
morning rituals all over the world. It legitimates what might otherwise be
a guilty or confused melancholy. It gives sadness a shape and a direction. It demarcate a time for it and then gently creates a moment when we meant to
overcome it and rejoin the group. Warsaw, Poland, spring 1798 It’s the Jewish festival of “Birkat Ilanot” which dictates that at the time of the
first blossom the community will gather outdoors by some trees and flowers in
bloom to appreciate the beauty of nature and honor the generosity of its creator. In the company of a rabbi, Jews recite a ritual prayer from the Talmud honoring
the hand that made the blossom: “blessed are You Lord our God, King of the
universe who didn’t leave a single thing lacking in his world filling it with the
finest creatures and trees so as to give pleasure to all of mankind. 2,000 kilometers to the west, an English poet is also struck by the beauty of spring and wants to express his enthusiasm and gratitude: “I heard a thousand blended notes while in a grove I sat reclined” writes William Wordsworth in the opening stanza of his
“Lines written in early spring” of 1798. Both the Jewish community and the poet appreciate springtime but the poet is not interested in ritualizing his feelings. He is emblematic of a new age known as Romanticism which
believes in leaving people to feel things at their own pace at a time of
their choosing. Religious belief is in decline across
Europe and for many rituals are tainted by being associated with a supernatural. That’s unfortunate even in the hands of
religions rituals have been guardians are very important states of mind that
would otherwise be crushed or neglected. A book of poetry is in the end a hushed
object in a noisy world whereas a ritual protects emotions to which we are
sincerely inclined but which without a degree of fabrication and structure we
might be too distracted and undisciplined to make time for. London, October 1834 James patterson, the governor of the Bank of England cuts annual, national or so-called bank holidays to just four a year. Only three years earlier the English bank like many English businesses had been closed for 36 days a year to make room for all sorts of traditional ritual festivals up
and down the land. The bank’s drive to slash holidays is typical of a hundred year long process that begins in the late 18th century. The industrial
revolution has made it deeply inconvenient for employers to let their
workers take holidays to mark this or that ritual. The collective purification
of the soul is of no interest to employers. It’s something you can do in your own
time. There are even suggestions to put an end to Christmas and Easter which together cost industry of fortune. Nuremberg, Germany, 30th of August
1933 Adolf Hitler leads “The Rally of Victory”. 700,000 people are in attendance. People sing marshall songs are gonna blast from speakers. There are banners of swastikas torchlight parades and thousands of soldiers goose-stepping. To engender a sense of fraternity flags are ritualistically touched against a blood-soaked flag from Hitler’s Beer
Hall Putsch of November 1923. Hitler speaks for hours on racial supremacy, German art and architecture and an international Jewish conspiracy
threatening to bring down the Aryan race. Behavior like this hastens the modern
suspicion of any ritual behavior. Collective activity and excitement start
to seem ever more eerie mob like and out of sync with an individualistic age. London, 30th of July 1966 96,000 people including the Queen of England take their seats inside Wembley stadium to watch England defeat West Germany in the world cup final. 32 million people are watching on TV. The picture of England captain Bobby
Moore hoisting the trophy is immortalized by statue in East London
while the ball is canonized in a special museum in Manchester. Rituals have continued into the modern age but they now tend to be around sport. They’re very limited in their ambitions
and lack a lot of the psychological richness of religious minded rituals of
old. Australia, 26 of May 2015 The 18th annual Sorry Day is held in Australia, when white Australians atone for the removal of 50,000 children from
aboriginal tribes. The day is a somber occasion for reflection with speeches from the indigenous Australian community and politicians of all stripes. However, the day meets with little public enthusiasm and engenders little change no compensation is awarded and many feel
the day obscures the still prevalent kidnapping of children from aboriginal
families. Like so many modern rituals even once emphasizing important events in a nation’s identity national Sorry Day feels rather placid and in many ways token. The part of human nature the craved and created rituals has not been
eliminated but it is currently in many developed societies quiescent or
unfairly tainted by associations with a less admirable sides of religion. So a lot of what we used to do in ritual
ways we now do privately: we have moments of carnivalesque
indulgence, we get drunk, have affairs say sorry, purge ourselves and feel
grateful for existence. But we also do so without guidance and therefore our behavior often lacks boundaries or is half-hearted or colorless. We also often just forget things. We have very few collective appointments with important emotions but perhaps we remain in need of rituals all the same. Points in the calendar that help us in our endeavors to be sane and kind. A challenge for the future will be to
create new rituals every bit as convincing as those of old with the
proper resources of art, music and design that will take some of the burdens
off us as individuals. We’ll have realized that being modern has not replaced our need for rituals.

Comments 100

  • The first 40 seconds already shows that the creator did not do his/her research. This is a very superficial definition of ritual. See Mary Douglas (Purity and Danger). Viewer Beware!

  • I have a book called The Orphics, which is about Orphism, the religion that was in ancient Greece before the 12 Gods of Olympus. The origins of Orphism is dated by most historians around 18th century BC and this book, partially written in the 5th century BC, contains hymns, stories and rituals about various Gods, the Sun, the Moon, Mother Earth, Dreams, Demons, Death, Health, Luck and others. Owning a book like that makes me feel so excited, like i m one step closer to my ancestors 4000 years ago! You got so many interesting stuff School of Life, thank you!

  • Shows how capitalistic greed immediately, as soon as industrialism pops-up in history, starts to impose violent harms and damage on the socio-cultural traditions which give our lives universal and historical ancestral/primitive context: A matter/question of heritage, culture, and legacy. We should all try to piously and devoutly maintain meaningful cultural socio-poetic practices, ceremonies, rituals, customs, and traditions – so long as they are good ones, and not ignorant or intolerant ones – regardless of whether we believe in the religiousity of them in full, or at all. While I maintain various religious traditions, customs, ceremonies, rituals, and so on… I do these practices with faith and belief that is honest and simple, and with an understanding that I may very well be wrong. But even then, as a Theist, I believe it worthwhile to still believe and maintain the cultural tradition and heritage/legacy of religion alive, even if there is plenty of reason to doubt, because otherwise it would be nothing but cultural violence. And even though I could be convinced that it is false, I would still maintain it all because of wanting to avoid this cultural violence: I would simply engage in the event as though a very holy and sacred "theatrical" social event which teaches us valuable truths; a poetic and enriching social and communal fiction. And if some have more faith, good for them, even if perhaps it seems intellectually weak. Furthermore, how convincing are Atheistic Arguments? I personally still feel that both defenses of Theism and Atheism are equally convincing (at least in my engagement with those ideas) and so I generally consider it the same. So far as neither group is violent or hateful; but apart from a few enlightened religious people, many religious people are fanatical, unfortunately.

  • U also flipped Ramadan in Arabic. U wrote it from left to right

  • You reversed the order of letter in Yom Kippur. Hebrew is and RTL language and it should be written like
    יוׂם כִּיפּוּר

  • Can you talk about the importance of trance festivals and psychedelics?

  • Why Poland is a province of Germany on the map from 1933?

  • I'm fairly certain that the ram's horn is blown on Rosh Hashana, not Yom Kippur?

  • Keep the masses busy and rob them blind.


  • 3:20 yom kippur is spelled backwards 🙁

  • you made a mistake ist יום כיפור from right to left??

  • It's telling that Modern American media produced a depiction of a mass catharsis ritual that centred up wanton slaughter and oppression of the lower classes.

  • J O Y C O N B O Y Z

  • We have become zain, material zombies! Thx 4 helping me wake up!

  • Thanks for this great and informative video as usual, I just wanted to point out that the Arabic language is written from right to left, with the letters connected to each other, so most of the Arabic words in the video are butchered 😂
    I think the same goes for Hebrew but I'm not sure.
    Thank you for your efforts, I managed to read them anyway 😁

  • wow it is interesting to know about this. Never know that a day like Saturnalia and other exist!
    really like ur channel 😀

  • Extremely interesting and educative video!

  • So Romanticism, Capitailism, Nazi Germany, the KKK, and other destructive sects (I would add the independentist movements in Catalonia, Flanders, Quebeq, etc), have undermined a healthy way we had to restore our spiritual balance in a collective way. Now the only acceptabe collective tradition our society accepts is going every sunday to a footbal stadium to watch gods like Messi, guys who hide their fortunes in tax havens. So now the question is: what can we do about it? Any ideas?

  • Romans are so decadent

  • Violence,badmouthing,smoking, is always forbidden in Islam

  • Germany didn't look like that in 1933 … This map is wrong.

  • i'm sorry, but it's יום כיפור not רופכ םוי . also אשמנו בגדנו not ב ונדגב ונמשא.

  • during Ramadan when the sun comes down – muslims can eat, and have sex… just an FYI… Also, the CHRISTIAN WORLD STILL CELEBRATES UMM HELLO, CHRISTMAS, THE BIRTH OF CHRIST – LENT, PASCHA – HOLYWEEK, GOOD FRIDAY – EASTER OR THE FEAST OF THE RESURRECTION all over the world… this one is really biased and tries to push us into the pluralistic theme that all religions are made up and old… and that the modern world has no place for religion or truth.

  • Saturnalia and Ramadan seem to make an interesting contrast 🙂

  • we certainly have a ritual. its called consumerism.

  • I disagree with this one. There are countless social groups around today that engage in ritualistic behavior. The implication I am getting from this video is that there should be more overarching rituals in society that guide our behavior as a whole. As a human being in modern society, I already have to deal with a whole host of expectations that are placed on me from birth, and would rather not have to buy into even more belief/behavioral systems just to satisfy society's desire to control my behavior. Take some personal responsibilty. If you want rituals, go find some or make your own, there are plenty around. It's a mark of a healthy democracy that you have a right to choose, and the existential burden/gift of having to do so in the first place.

  • Acho que descobri de onde veio o carnaval.

  • Whic program is used to make this video ?

  • יום כיפור

  • I grew up in a strong family with very decided family ties. We had many, periodic rituals that involved family and holidays. I miss those days. I am all for Saturnalia! But in my city there is tremendous cynicism and a lot of young people who have replaced everything–family, love, home and children–with work, work work.

  • The burning man festival

  • If we had more naked rituals, I'd actually open up my schedule for them…

  • Ritual ceremony is important.

  • Saturnalia aka the murderlite version of the purge lol

  • Nice video. I think one of the biggest obstacles to creating rituals in our era is the element of sponsorship. Companies big and small are always willing to plaster their brand name over any gathering. Sponsorship has taken over the very spirit of community in my opinion. Not that it's a bad thing but it's become the only thing that purifies and pacifies the masses to conformity. "Buy your (socially programmed necessity) from us the company that loves your next holiday, loves your traditions" While the elephant in the room that they love the most is our money. I might be ranting a bit here lol

  • Can somebody traduce this to Spanish pleas? 🙁

  • Las Vegas is probably the modern version of Saturnalia.

  • mentioned sports are ritualistic now, but didn't mention music festivals that also are. think burning man etc

  • So once again, the Industrial Revolution is emblematic of just how far our human society has fallen. Its an event that pretty much ruined our species.

  • Alain you are definitely an Ascended Master and I am forever thankful for your insights. You are supeeeeerb. And you make me believe that gentleness has not died in this world.

  • The Arabic writing is WRONG!! i think your device doesn't support the arabic letters thats why its messed up.. the letters are from right to left and here its the opposite and it doesn't make sense

  • Language is a ritual, but your definition is too narrow to allow for that. Music is ritualistic too.

  • One thing I like about Christmas is the connection it makes to people across cultures, especially the song attributed to the angels: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill towards men" (Luke 2:14, KJV).

  • This treats rituals in a fair way. Living in a world of capitalism, we need more new forms of rituals than any time before.

  • There are many modern cultures that still put heavy significance on rituals, just not most westernized ones (what with Christianity) but even still there are holy days, mass etc. ritual lives on in religion which plays a large role in many people's lives.

  • The Arabic writing is wrong; the letters are flipped and not connected.

  • "Benevolent Arab rule"…yea…sure…

  • The Hebrew is backwards

  • I don't think it counts a ritual but i'd like to share it anyway since they've mentioned Warsaw in the video. In Warsaw every year on 1st of August at the 5 PM the sirens go off and the whole city stops for a minute. Everyone. Cars. People on streets. It's a form of paying hommage to people who died during Warsaw Uprising in 1944 . There is a video on youtube called "there is a city". I truly recommend it just so you can see how the whole comunnity in 21st century can actually become united for a moment

  • jeezus humanity is so f*cked…

  • 4:55 Look at those NAILS O.o wat

  • So no one’s going to talk about the fact that they used misleading images about Muslim women in that ramadan bit? Lol. Those were hindu women images you were using. Come on, man.

  • Hebrew and Arabic writings in the video are wrong

  • What about OCD rituals.. they have nothing to do with religion

  • You mean ceremony, not ritual

  • Too zionist! Come on, I know your audience is European, but that was definitely a poor attempt at a "history of rituals". I definitely expected more…

  • check out those guys touching their flagpoles together

  • i wouldn't like saturnalia to turn into the burden i feel xmas is

  • AMAZING VIDEOS… It was exactly the kind of videos I ve been looking for… Loved it❤️

  • begin again

  • Arabic is written from right to left, and so ramadan is written as: رمضان

  • Rituals for me, but not for thee!

  • Everynight at 9 o'clock i turn the lights off, and go in front of THE HOLY TV.

    Then İ sit down, cross my legs, turn on the TV, grab prayer beads, make a triangle, put a circular object in the triangle.

    İ wave my hands up and down while looking at the triangle DONT LOOK AT THE TV.

    and say "ben TV izlemiyorum" which means "İ don't watch TV" in turkish.

    After doing it 33 times İ blow on the circular object 3 times.

    Then repeat until İ say İ don't watch TV 99 times.

    At the end İ say "beni sorgulamayın" which means "don't question me" but this time kiss the circular object

    Then İ close my eyes and meditate along with the spirits of the TV.

    Yes İ know its wierd.

  • Who comes here for nsd admission

  • Great. Download WISE UNIVERSAL in Play Store

  • Some of the Hebrew words are not written correctly, they are written in reverse. Also, just as a side point many religious Jews say the confession, prayer every day and one is not supposed to wait until Yom Kippur to make amends with other people, there is a prayer that is said every day that one forgives all that have wronged him.

  • embracing nerdy conventions for anime and comics is a yearly ritual I enjoy, I believe it establishes my footprint in a counterculture I'd prefer over bringing people down because I'm not 24/7 validating my cool factor to corny crass role models that will lose relevance within a decade.

  • These videos are absolutely wonderful – many profound thoughts to ponder…

  • Loving this History of Ideas series. Learning a lot from it. Thanks. 🙏🙌

  • New! Reveal Parties, Prom Pre-Parties ALL FOR $$$$$$

  • Bring back the 36 bank holidays

  • This was a concept portrayed in the book and and tv series American Gods…RITUALS…

  • I'd love to practice my preferred ritual, but my neighbors are unsympathetic. No matter how passionately I try to explain that Moloch thirsts for blood, they remain unwilling to contribute their children.
    So much for the First Amendment.

  • OMG one day I will know latin and read about the saturnalia rituals my damn self WOOOOOOOOP

  • Protestantism doesn't have rituals but do have holidays celebrating important ideas like Christmas and Easter. I don't need the rituals because christianity does no longer rituals as it was praying for God and slef-improvement. There are some rituals like baptism and eating bread and drinking wine ib rememberance of Jesus. But christianity is mostly on the individual level.

  • Rituals stíll happen. But they are disguised.

  • National sorry day, what a joke

  • like practically all things in life today, rituals have become micro-sized and extemporaneous.

  • You wrote yom kippur backwards…יום כיפור

  • please bring Saturnalia back. lmao

  • Jainism also has a similar ritual of asking forgiveness. During paryushan people say Michami Dukadam

  • is there a location that still practices Saturnalia

  • Umm… 4:35 who’s the mongoloid that harpy creature is gesturing at?

  • There's Eurovision XD

  • Saturnalia sounds like a horrible practice. It is only "fun" in the way it is described while you thing something the people will do is innocent. It never is, otherwise no one would care about it. Very similar to that movie where one day everyone can murder someone else.

  • 2019 Rituals: swipe left, hit vape pen, watch some porn. overwhelmed by guilt so play a few hours of xbox, kill all the foreigners on Level 6. high score! why arent you fggots praising me for my leet gamer skills?!
    oh shit, that avatar was dressed kinda slutty.. *unzips*. Level 7 can wait, I need to jack off again.
    .. still feeling bad about the degrading shit I just watched so pop a xanax and inhale more chemicals, maybe an instant release somethingorother will take the edge off. yes these rituals make me feel like im on the edge of a cliff, just like in the olden days, about to shove some poor virgin to her death down below, all in the name of zeus, tyler, riley, brayden, nike, underarmor, elon, xbox, and cooper. or whoever our trend setting/ money hungry/human-sacrifice appreciating gods are today.
    wait, why are they pushing me? you've got the wrong guy, I'm no virgin! don't you know, I've ghosted 69 tinder whores this week! And I jack off to multiracial triple penetration porn at least 33 times a day!
    > I'm sorry, InceltedGuy69, your rituals are no longer recognized in this provence. the gods have swiped right on your profile, you are the Chosen one! You are Chad! Quick, hit your vape pen one last time, before your toes kiss the fiery flames of the volcano…
    *eyes roll back*
    PHEW! that xanny bar kicked in just in time.
    alright, on to my next daily ritual… 6 stimulating but pointless hours of reddit!

  • Rituals are important to protecting emotions. Ritual behavior. 1966, London; 33M audience, rituals. Now, mostly around sport. Australia, 2015, national SORRY DAY; sorry.

  • Create new rituals with art, music, and design.

  • This video is history of religion or Ideas? Confusing 😕

  • All the Hebrew in the video is flipped backwards.
    The letters are right, but they are typed in reverse.
    I would be like "Hey there!", was typed "!ereth yeH"
    You get the picture.

    Also it's Birkas Ilinos instead of Birkat Ilinot. This is Europe so the "t" is softened to a "s".
    The Middle Eastern Jews used the harder T sound here perhaps due to majority languages around European Jews being Germanic instead of Arabic.


  • Rituals exist, because humans are not intelligent enough to see the harm and damage the rituals do. Too bad, so sad.

  • One of the best School of Life videos

  • I saw the South African flag painted on bodies. Yeeeey

  • Jewish rewriting history portal. Insinuations and misdirections. What was so important about Warsaw Poland Spring of 1798? According to this portal, Jewish ritual of spring. According to European history, the third partition of Poland. Who runs Europe? Someone who uses Jews to rewrite the European history. Jews have no history, so they invented Jewish born de Botton front man.

  • Silly rituals!

  • I'm thinking whether all the meeting events (several ways to do it online) are not (curiously) feeding our needs for rituals in a collective society. Book clubs, Pot luck dinners, community associations, fight clubs (just joking about this last one) create the "right" place, time and companionship to perform several activities.

    And, going more to the professional side, meetings, scrum, project management activities seems to me, in a certain way, to be our rituals of work.

    I guess it is not that we no longer have fantastic rituals – it is just that it's been pulverized according to the individual needs and wants. I really love my Book Club monthly meeting as my ritual – and, eventually, my daily scrum standup meeting isn't too bad also…

  • Holidays are a weight on shoulders

  • Eurocentric and zionist…

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