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Pte 70 Score Essay on “How important is Ceremony in your Country?”

 How important is Ceremony in your Country?


The importance varies, but few would argue that ceremony is totally irrelevant. Some ceremonies are of course mere tradition, and as such may be irritants.

For example, in Britain there is almost universal respect for the monarch. Yet, she and her court are hemmed in by ceremonies which is this day and age would be laughable if they were not pernicious. In fact the court consists of aristocrats whose function is both to preserve the mystique surrounding the monarch and the rigid class structure which they head. A typical example is that one has to leave a room in which the monarch is seated by walking backwards, no easy exercise. The same applies to an official leaving the Commons chamber when the Speaker is seated.

 This is not an argument for’ the abolition of ceremonial, merely for rational updating. Many ceremonies have a laudable basis. They are often spectacular, and hence enjoyable. They provide relief from the humdrum grayness of daily life. They bring to mind the country’s best traditions. In animistic societies ceremony implies the satisfying of the gods which rule human destiny. Ceremonies dignify human relationships. They sometimes provide a good excuse for enjoyable public holidays. Latin countries would never give up their fiestas. Ceremonial may reflect the structure of government.

Some of this applies to Britain. Reverting to the monarch, I quote three examples. First, the state opening of parliament. The queen ratifies legislation, though she has political influence rather than power. Yet, she reads a speech in which my government will pass this act and that. Seated with her lords, she excludes the commons until black rod has knocked three times on the chamber door. This underlines the titular; though not actual superiority of the unelected lords over the commons. Secondly, the

 Trooping the Colour, which supplies even more pageantry. As head of the armed forces, the queen takes the salute of her guards, whose colors, in rotation, are paraded before her. This, and the daily changing of the guard, provide a great tourist attraction. Thirdly, the queen’s visits to the City of London. Traditionally, the ‘square mile’ is independent territory, outside the queen’s jurisdiction. She has to lay aside the sword of state and receive the Lord Mayor’s permission to enter ceremonially. The Lord Mayor has an annual show, the floats in the parade reflecting all aspects of national life. However, at all ceremonial functions, whether the queen is present or not, the national anthem is played, underlining the loyalty of all her subjects to their titular head. Great ceremony marks the visits of foreign heads of state; banquets, parades, gun salutes. When such heads of state are respectable individuals, well and good. Often, they are insignificant, sometimes trumped-u gangsters. Then such ceremonies are hollow irritants, and the population resents both the hypocrisy and the traffic chaos caused in the Westminster area.

For some, though perhaps a minority of Britons, ceremonial affects courtship, engagement and marriage. Reflecting the old subservience of the girl to her father, the prospective husband will court the girl for some time, and then ask her father’s permission to become engaged. His financial prospects will be considered. Marriage will be in church, where the ceremony will have as much tradition as religious content. Ideally, all this is meant to underline the permanency of marriage. Burial or cremation also demands ceremony, formal dress and tributes to the deceased.

Ceremonial dress may reflect history. There are special uniforms, all designed to impress, for the diplomatic corps, for courtiers, for service chiefs, for lords lieutenant, for mayors and lord mayors. Non-official civilians are desired to wear tail coats and silk hats for state functions. Dinner-jackets are required for formal dinners. Elaborate gowns and hoods are de rigueur for university functions. All this originated in the desire to preserve certain standards of behavior, or to instill respect. Judges and barristers are be-wigged in court. When Britain was a colonial power, all expatriates changed into evening dress for dinner, even in the most primitive outstations.

It goes without saying that religious services are based on ceremonials, all of which have a devotional significance. Attempts are often made to simplify or exclude ceremonial, but there is little doubt that the soul of man responds to color, movement and beauty. In Britain, ceremonial remains important, but many think that it is high time the more meaningless examples were abolished.


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