Religion Past and Present

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Rites of Passage
(886 words)

[German Version]

I. Religious Studies

“Rites of passage” (Fr. rites de passage) is an expression introduced in 1909 by Arnold van Gennep to mark transitions between two stages of life or conditions of being. It refers primarily to transitions in the life cycle (Sanskrit saṃskāra) such as birth, initiation, marriage, and death (Dying); then also to examinations/ordeals, seasonal transitions (e.g. New Year, new or full moon, harvest), and consecrations (e.g. of a house, or ordination of a priest).

Van Gennep elaborated a …

Cite this page
Michaels, Axel and Heimbrock, Hans-Günter, “Rites of Passage”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 20 March 2023 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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