Ritual History
Modern Fraternities
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What is a Ritual? 

The dictionary offers us the following definitions:

Main Entry: 1rit·u·al
Pronunciation: 'ri-ch&-w&l, -ch&l; 'rich-w&l
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin ritualis, from ritus rite
Date: 1570
1 : of or relating to rites or a ritual : CEREMONIAL <a ritual dance>
2 : according to religious law or social custom <ritual purity>
- rit·u·al·ly adverb

Main Entry: 2ritual
Function: noun
Date: 1649
1 : the established form for a ceremony; specifically : the order of words prescribed for a religious ceremony
2 a : ritual observance; specifically : a system of rites b : a ceremonial act or action c : a customarily repeated often formal act or series of acts

Entry Word: ritual
Function: noun
Text: 1
Synonyms RITE 2, ceremonial, ceremony, formality, liturgy, observance, service
Synonyms FORM 2, ceremonial, ceremony, formality, liturgy, rite

At some point in time after you have accepted the invitation to become a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon you will experience our sacred, secret ceremony of initiation. We most often refer to this as the "Ritual." Like all other Greek organizations, Sigma Phi Epsilon has many Rituals. You probably have experienced some of these already. Your initial induction into the Fraternity was a ritual. Many of the inspirational activities that you have participated in are forms of ritual. The order of business in a chapter meeting represents a form of ritual. However, at some point you will experience the Initiation Ceremonies in which you will be informed of all the secret work and the specific meaning of signs, symbols, and words about which we have tried to stimulate your intellect and reason. A successful member development program will not only prepare you for your introduction to this as well as guide you on your journey to incorporate the teachings or tenets of the Fraternity into your everyday life.

Rituals or rites of passage most probably go back to the beginning of time. Some are simple, others are elaborate. Some are short, others last for long periods of time or require several stages or degrees.

In order to more fully understand and understand fraternity ritual and why it is this one component that makes Greek organizations unique, a basic understanding of its historical aspect is integral. What is provided is certainly superficial to the volumes of information available; however, it is certainly a start.

Use the links from this page to follow the history of rituals in general, Greek organizations specifically, and some information about the founding of fraternities. Where available active links to national organization websites are provided.

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Last Updated: 2008-03-14 18:23
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