Ritual or Routine

Is it RITUAL or is it ROUTINE?

Merriam Webster says:

RITUAL – done as part of a ceremony or ritual

: always done in a particular situation and in the same way each time

ROUTINE -: a regular way of doing things in a particular order

That doesn’t really help much, because they seem to be very similar. After reading around on the internet, I came to a few conclusions. I see ROUTINE as different than RITUAL in the meaning behind it.

For example, it is ROUTINE that before I go to bed, I brush my teeth first, then floss, then rinse with mouth wash. I do it the same way each time and I don’t feel right unless I do each one that way. But I would not call it a RITUAL because it is just for the purpose of cleaning my teeth and mouth and giving me fresh breath.

On the other hand, every morning I have another ROUTINE, that is, indeed, a RITUAL. I get out of bed before my Master each and every morning (or nap) and I go make him espresso in his Italian espresso pot on the stove. I do it the same way each time. I think of him as I’m doing it. I am so happy when we have Starbucks Sumatra coffee to put in the pot because he loves it best. I’m less so when we have run out and are using the Folgers. I rinse the pot with warm water and then fill it with cold, because that is supposed to make better coffee. I put the stove on number 8 so it will boil and percolate, but not overheat the rubber gasket (hopefully). After the coffee pot sputters its announcement that it is done, I immediately remove it, thinking of not wanting it to be too hot for my Man. Then the most important – I use one of his favorite mugs ONLY and I pour a very tiny stream into the cup. This cools it off faster. I add just the right amount of whole milk. Then I carry it to him and ask him if he is ready for his coffee. The meaning behind this RITUAL is very important to me. I’ve been doing it for a very, very long time. Even before we got married, he would have me to make him a cup of coffee and set it on the counter and then make my own cup. This cup of coffee was symbolic of my serving him in my mind, even though he wasn’t present. Now, I’m so happy to be able to do this in person. 🙂

So, I think a routine can be a ritual if it has MEANING behind it other than just a thoughtless act.


  1. This was very interesting. I loved reading about the coffee ritual-my Sir has a similar one for me. I think you are right-the meaning behind the actions is what makes it a routine or a ritual. Routines can (and sometimes should) be done without thinking. Brushing teeth, for example, is a great time to mentally assess if I did all my chores or something, whereas a ritual like your coffee one should be more contemplative, more focused on your Sir.

    Loved this. Thanks for your writing!

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