In the present day, many people feel that traditional religious ceremonies do not adequately capture their views of life. Perhaps these people are not religious, or perhaps the values by which they live their lives are drawn from the human realm: from ethical or philosophical traditions, or even poetry and literature. In keeping with Humanism’s role as a belief-system that centers around valuing human life and welfare, Humanist ceremonies enable such people to celebrate important occasions like weddings, funerals, and births in a way that conforms to their own life views. As such, Humanist ceremonies form a meaningful and enriching way of marking significant life events. Humanist ceremonies are conducted by carefully selected Humanist celebrant, who are well versed in the planning and enactment of Humanist weddings and funerals.
As one example of a Humanist ceremony, let us think about a Humanist wedding. Here, the two spouses-to-be have much fuller control over how they celebrate their marriage than they might do were they to opt for a pre-defined religious wedding. Secular poems and songs that are important to them as a couple, and readings from philosophical texts or spiritual quotations that reflect the spouses’ life-views, often form an integral part of a Humanist wedding. Humanists acknowledge that many people do remain religious, despite the rise of Humanism throughout the western world. Thus, a Humanist wedding or funeral will often involve a period of silent reflection. At this moment, non-religious guests at the ceremony are invited to reflect on the meaning of marriage, or to focus on their love and care for the couple; guests who follow a particular religion are welcome to use this period of silence to pray.
More and more people are choosing Humanist ceremonies when it comes to planning their weddings or humanist funerals, or ceremonies to celebrate the birth of a child. These ceremonies are attractive for many reasons. Often, people will state that a Humanist ceremony enables them to have a wedding or a funeral that more fully reflects their personality and outlook on life. But Humanist ceremonies can contain religious texts if they are important to the people involved in the ceremony. Humanist spouses, for instance, may choose to read a short passage from the Bible alongside a sonnet by Shakespeare at their wedding. Often, this may be because they simply love the language in the religious text, or find it captures part of their personal ethical beliefs.