Online College Courses for Credit

Life Cycle Events

Life Cycle Events


This lesson will offer information on life cycle events their importance to different world religions.

See More
Fast, Free College Credit

Developing Effective Teams

Let's Ride
*No strings attached. This college course is 100% free and is worth 1 semester credit.

29 Sophia partners guarantee credit transfer.

312 Institutions have accepted or given pre-approval for credit transfer.

* The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit®) has evaluated and recommended college credit for 27 of Sophia’s online courses. Many different colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs.


Video Transcription

Download PDF

[MUSIC PLAYING] Hello and welcome to this tutorial on life cycle events. Religions have various ways of ushering people from one stage of life to another, especially at certain key transition points. We're going to be taking a look at some of those life cycle events in this tutorial.

Life cycle events contain both danger and blessing. Both ways that life can go astray and ways that life can go down the right path. So some of these events include marriage, puberty or the entrance into adulthood, of course birth. Birth is important both for the baby and for the mother to get through. Both of them through this period of danger and blessing.

And death. Most religions have some tradition that is supposed to guide the departed into the right state in the afterlife. And it is also there for those who are still living to help them transition through the loss of that person.

These life cycle events have to do with what might be called liminal states. Liminal just means in between. So the individual goes through a certain ritual at this life transition. And it's at that time that this person is considered to be extremely vulnerable. So in many rituals the person is considered to have dissolved and be reconstituted. So they become not themselves. And then they become themselves again in a changed form through some kind of transformation.

And frequently, there's some kind of symbolic separation from the community, or an actual separation from the community. And then a kind of rejoining.

So in baptism, going under the water symbolizes death. And coming back out of the water symbolizes rebirth. So being away from the community and then rejoining the community as a changed person.

Let's take a little bit of a look at Judaism. The brit milah or bris milah or simply called the bris. Very often it just has to do with Hebrew and Yiddish versions of the same word. This is a ritual circumcision, which is performed when the young boy is eight days old. And there's frequently a meal served. And it's also the time when the child gets his Hebrew name and his godparents.

There's also the Native American vision quest that marks the transition into adulthood. And this has become somewhat controversial, as many non-Native Americans have come to engage in the vision quest practice. So the question becomes, does one have to be born into one of these traditions to practice the rituals or not?

Thanks for watching this tutorial on life cycle events. A life cycle event is a transition from one part of life to another. And happens around certain periods in life that are filled with both opportunity and danger.

When we think of life cycle events, we could include such events as birth, the transition into adulthood, marriage, and death. So religions have various different ways of shepherding people through these life cycle events, including special ceremonies that help the person to reform their identity around these important events. So oftentimes there is a withdrawing from the community, and then a liminal or middle state, and then a rejoining of the community. So the person's identity is taken apart and put back together again.

We talked about the Jewish brit milah or bris, in which a Jewish boy is circumcised on the eighth day of life. We also talked about the Native American vision quest as a coming-of-age ceremony that helps young men to transition into adulthood.

Terms to Know
Brit Milah

A Jewish ritual circumcision.

Life Cycle Event

A rite of passage or significant event in the life of an individual.

Vision Quest

A coming-of-age event in many Native American traditions.