Yesterday I attended the Naming Ceremony of the granddaughter of a good friend. The ceremony was held outside, and it was raining (see pic above - some people had shelter!), and yet all of us were not only there but happy to be there.
This started me thinking about the importance of ceremonies and celebrations in our lives. Why do we have them? Do we need them? And how useful are they in writing?
Ceremonies to mark birth, marriage and death are found in all cultures and throughout history so it’s pretty clear that there is a widespread belief in their usefulness. They mark important events or stages in our lives. For people with religious beliefs or superstitions they are also ways of appeasing or pleasing their gods at these significant moments.
These days, they are mostly done for fun, but also to involve our friends and family in the celebration of something good that has happened (Zahara’s birth and hence her naming ceremony) or to mark the end of something. Before my father-in-law died he said he wasn’t bothered about a funeral at which his wife told him very clearly the funeral was for us, not him, and he was certainly having one! He then agreed to certain things he did and didn’t want, and when the time came we had a wonderful Humanist funeral which celebrated his life and allowed us to say good bye to him. So no, we didn’t absolutely need this ceremony, but it was a help to us and has been a good memory for all of us to help us go forward.
And so to writing – writing is often about the big events in people’s lives. The ceremonies that go with them provide a wealth of material, whether it be the wedding at the end of a Harlequin Romance or the funeral at the beginning of a family mystery. They are a ploy for getting your characters together, giving them something to talk/fight about, meeting new characters, not to mention a wealth of possible comic moments. The planning beforehand and the clearing up afterwards can also offer great possibilities for plot development.
But today I’m reminded that most of all they’re an excuse for catching up with people you haven’t seen for a while, and having a jolly good party. So definitely a good thing in life, as well as in writing!