Enculturation Incarnate: Ritual Sensoria in U.S. Patriotic Holidays

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Because ritual is based on symbolism that takes intense sensory, enacted form, its features are well suited to children's cultural learning via sensorimotor engagement. An ethnographic study of US patriotic rituals at Memorial Day and Independence Day (July 4th), conducted during 2005–12, reveals how children participated and learned through sensoria and embodied experiences within these festival days. Public and private rituals evoked sense-linked metaphoric meanings that primed children for American values, including themes of militarism and freedom. Consistent with other researchers’ findings regarding U.S. Passover seder, American Catholic First Communion, and the ritual enculturation of Sri Lankan child monks, young cultural members encounter ritual through embodied learning and sensoria and not necessarily via adult intentional instruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-47
Number of pages24
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • children
  • nationalism
  • ritual
  • senses
  • socialization


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