Chicago Cultural Alliance “Families” Project

A rite of passage is an event that marks the transition between one stage of life and another. In this exhibit, members of Chicago’s diverse Chinese-American and Ethiopian-American communities highlight especially significant objects, symbols and heritage practices evidenced in Birth, Marriage, Longevity and Death rites.

While the objects and expressions that mark these transitions may vary greatly depending upon family, local and regional customs, a number of common themes do arise. Many of the rituals associated with Birth, Marriage, Longevity and Death progress through distinct stages. They include: periods of seclusion, transitional events that prepare family members for their new roles, and public gatherings that signify the initiate’s new status within the family and broader community.

Public celebrations that incorporate aspects of Language, food, drink and clothing – cultural markers already infused with symbolic meanings — take on heightened significance during many of these events. Contemporary rites that include the Chinese Tea Ceremony and Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony provide vivid examples of ancient traditions that re-enact social relations and spiritual beliefs. Mindful of the challenges and opportunities associated with maintaining contemporary expressions of ancient customs and rituals.

Today, more than 43,000 people who identify as Chinese or Chinese-American and no less than 10,000 people who identify as Ethiopian or Ethiopian-American call the City of Chicago home. The Chinese American Museum of Chicago and the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago demonstrate their commitment to bringing about social change and expanding public understanding of cultural diversity through first-voice interpretation of artifacts from their communities and collections.

Here’s the link to: The Chicago Cultural Alliance

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