SIEF’s working group on The Ritual Year was established in April 2004 and held its inaugural meeting in Edinburgh in July 2004. Membership of the working group is open to any member of SIEF on payment of the annual subscription of 5 euros to the treasurer. Conferences will be held annually.
There is considerable choice among materials for study and the focus may well change from time to time and from conference to conference. We plan to be flexible and in particular to make sure that we hear presentations from scholars representing a wide range of countries and approaches. Some possible aspects are civic ritual and processions, community identity, masking and drama, carnival and reversal, reciprocity and exchange, computerised aids to calendrical research, sports, dance and music, ecclesiastical practice, contemporary popular use of religious images, cosmological roots, interfaces between the secular and the religious and between different religions, festival foods, symbolism linked to the economic bases of society, especially as concerns agriculture, and the overall framework of the year. The field of study that often relates to this one rather closely is that of life cycle customs and it has been agreed that each conference will include a discussion panel on the hypothesis of a life-cycle parallel to the ritual year as well as papers on topics relevant to the location and time of year of the specific conference and any special themes agreed by the committee.
Information on SIEF (Société Internationale d’Ethnologie et de Folklore) is available on the website: www.meertens.knaw.nl/sief/