Rites of passage (ROP) occur across the life span to help humankind move from one life stage to the next. ROP exist all over the world and are both biological and cultural. Biological dimensions include childbirth (i.e., becoming a parent) or reaching a particular age (e.g., vote, buy alcohol), and cultural dimensions may involve ceremonies or rituals (e.g., marriages, baptisms, Navajo womanhood celebrations). This entry describes ROP and life stages over the life span.

The ROP literature is diverse. Some researchers ascertain that an ROP has particular elements present; others are bound by religious prescriptions, while some describe ROP as recognizable after the ROP has transpired. The term rites of passage was first coined by ethnographer Arnold van Gennep in the early 1900s in the book, ...

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