Homecoming Underscores the Value of Rituals

This week, tens of thousands of people will participate in a mass gathering at the University of Arizona for the largest, longest-running football-centered party: Homecoming.

As one of the most important college traditions in the U.S., homecoming is synonymous with campus pride, and it is a meaningful way for alumni to remain connected with their alma mater. Some spend months preparing for the event. Some are so devoted that they commit to attend every traditional activity: the bonfire, tailgating, the parade, reunions, the game — and more.

But why?

If we see the UA's Homecoming — to be held this weekend — as a ritual, then it becomes easier to understand the lasting influence such events have in the lives of so many people, said Albert J. Bergesen, director of the UA's School of Sociology.

"For years, rituals were thought to be largely religious, but we also manufacture sacredness elsewhere," Bergesen said, as a way of explaining the practice of painting on school colors, wearing replica jerseys and maintaining superstitions associated with athletics. "People believe, 'We are all Wildcats,' so it reaffirms this collective thing that is the University of Arizona."

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Story by La Monica Everett-Haynes, University Relations

Published Date: 

10/22/2015 - 11:35am