I finally have an idea for my final paper for my issues in contemporary jewelry class. My research for the last 2 quarters has revolved around superstition, how we develop it, and why we still have it. Plus all the strange and funny superstitions from the past and present. My research this quarter has strayed into ritual and why we have it. Plus social ritual and how it makes us act. My trouble has been two-fold. How to combine the two ideas. I do believe that ritual can be superstition but not all ritual is superstitious. Also why am I interested in this area of study in the first place?
To answer this we must look back into my own childhood and family 700 miles away in Pennsylvania. Although I never really considered it until this research my upbringing was steep in tradition. We still do the same things to prepare for and celebrate holidays and special events that were done long before I was born. As a Catholic my childhood involved the ritual of church going, and prayer. My family is also very superstitious. We believe in ghosts, clairvoyants, Ouija boards, throwing salt, no shoes on the table, st.Anthony will help us find thing and the list goes on. Also as a child I was obsessed with history I wanted to be a historian for the longest time and still harbor a desire to become an archeologist. I learned all I could about Egypt the titanic, the civil war, the Smithsonian or any museum was my favorite thing to do (well I enjoyed the zoo too) but I had an insatiable hunger for history and knowledge that has never abated. This brings us to today. I am trained as an educator and crafts person. The former requires me to tell everyone about the things I know to try to “teach” them and help them. The latter places one foot firmly in tradition and one in the contemporary but also involves a kind of communal sharing, teaching, and learning. So why? because my own life involved tradition, ritual, and superstition as does most other peoples. It’s common ground for much of the worlds population therefore somewhat relate able to each of us. My goal is to educate people in the history of rituals that they participate in and connect them to the past through their actions. I want people to realize that they do what they do because of longstanding tradition. It connects us to people many generations in the past, across seas and cultures.
How then to choose something as worldly and historical as my proposed goal of bringing people together in a happy communal experience? Why not tea? Tea has been in China for millennia in Europe since the 1600’s and in the Americas for almost as long. It is the second most drunken beverage in the world after plain water and is steeped (pardon the pun) in tradition, superstition, and ritual. Therefore the perfect place to put all my research behind one topic. Plus all that new research about tea that I’m about to embark upon woot!
The history of tea: as experienced through social ritual, tradition and superstition