Pre-Dinner Ritual


The informant ate sit-down dinners with his immediate family every night growing up. Before they ate, they would always hold hands and say a few words, almost like a prayer.


While this dinnertime tradition is very common among religious households, the informant’s family is nonreligious, not subscribing to any organized religion. Instead of a typical prayer, the informant’s family’s “prayer” was said to no one in particular, and was often expressing gratitude. 


This tradition is a very common one, however, is usually affiliated with some level of religious background. Seeing it done without a religious background shows a lot about the shared values that both religious and non-religious people have in common. Although the informant’s family is not giving a prayer of gratitude to anyone in particular, it is still important for them to be grateful for their meal. In this sense, the tradition also seems to bring the family together and work as a bonding ritual with which to connect with each other every night through their gratitude. The informant’s lack of religious intent with his prayer shows that when a prayer of gratitude is not said to any particular deity or entity, its ability to bring a group, like the informant’s family, together seems to hold just as much weight as the ritual/prayer’s original purpose.