A ritual is a ceremony or action performed in a customary way. Your family might have a Saturday night ritual of eating a big spaghetti dinner and then taking a long walk to the ice cream shop.

As an adjective, ritual means "conforming to religious rites," which are the sacred, customary ways of celebrating a religion or culture. Different communities have different ritual practices, like meditation in Buddhism, or baptism in Christianity. We also call the ceremony itself a ritual. Although it comes from religious ceremonies, ritual can also be used for any time-honored tradition, like the Superbowl, or Mardi Gras, or Sunday morning pancake breakfast.

Definitions of ritual
  1. noun
    the prescribed procedure for conducting religious ceremonies
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    the ritual washing of a priest's hands or of sacred vessels
    celebration, solemnisation, solemnization
    the public performance of a sacrament or solemn ceremony with all appropriate ritual
    Communion, Holy Communion, manduction, sacramental manduction
    the act of participating in the celebration of the Eucharist
    participation in Holy Communion by members of more than one church (eg Catholic and Orthodox)
    type of:
    pattern, practice
    a customary way of operation or behavior
  2. noun
    any customary observance or practice
    synonyms: rite
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    betrothal, espousal
    the act of becoming betrothed or engaged
    marriage, marriage ceremony, wedding
    the act of marrying; the nuptial ceremony
    rite of passage
    a ritual performed in some cultures at times when an individual changes status (as from adolescence to adulthood)
    bridal, espousal
    archaic terms for a wedding or wedding feast
    civil marriage
    a marriage performed by a government official rather than by a clergyman
    love match
    a marriage for love's sake; not an arranged marriage
    the act of marrying again
    type of:
    custom, usage, usance
    accepted or habitual practice
  3. noun
    stereotyped behavior
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    type of:
    habit, use
    (psychology) an automatic pattern of behavior in reaction to a specific situation; may be inherited or acquired through frequent repetition
  4. adjective
    of or relating to or characteristic of religious rituals
    ritual killing”
  5. adjective
    of or relating to or employed in social rites or rituals
    “a ritual dance of Haiti”
    “"sedate little colonial tribe with its ritual tea parties"- Nadine Gordimer”
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