The fascinating origin of the term "Scrum Ceremony"

Here is one of the big topics of the Agile community regarding Scrum: are we talking about ceremonies or events? In the Scrum Guide, we do not find the term ceremony and yet it is one of the most used terms in the professional ecosystems in which I have been able to intervene.

I then came across This article of Derek Davidson, a Professional Scrum Trainer, on the site of He was asking himself the same question! So that this mystery is no longer one even for the French community, I offer you a translation 🙂

Nice reading to you!

What is a Scrum Ceremony?

You may have heard the term "Scrum Ceremony", which is strange because it never appeared in the Scrum Guide. But there is clearly is commonly used. So where does it come from? What does it mean? Let's find out.

What does "Scrum Ceremony" mean?

Let's address the first easy question first. A “Scrum ceremony” is a “Scrum event”. Although the term was never mentioned in the official scrum guide, it has been in common use for almost 2 decades. So where does it come from? I decided to do some research and found that it was harder to determine than I thought.

What is the origin of the term "Scrum Ceremony"?

A few of my PST colleagues, Ryan Ripley and Todd Miller, have a podcast on Youtube: “Your Daily Scrum”. They have an episode called “ Why Scrum Events are Sometimes Called Ceremonies“. It sounded promising. In the podcast, they revealed that they had searched through many past Scrum posts but found no reference to the word ceremony. The mystery deepens.

I continued my research and came across a thread. The people most likely to use the term "Scrum ceremonies" are those who received Scrum training before 2010, which means the term likely came before the Scrum guide. This was part of the explanation of the mystery but I still had the main question to address. I continued the thread.

Scrum training before 2010

Before the formal introduction of Scrum in 1995 and the publication of the first Scrum guide in 2010, Ken Schwaber and Mike Cohn provided most Scrum training. During the latter, they gave students access to a set of powerpoint slides that they could share within their organizations.

Mystery solved!

It turns out that these slides have been widely shared! These are the slides which talk about Scrum ceremonies and which are likely to explain the source of this term. I reproduced one of these slides below. It comes from Mike Cohn's slide deck that he made available for free on their website if you want to take a look yourself.

Terminology borrowed from Scrum

Having found the root of the term in a Scrum post, I couldn't help but keep digging. I thus found references to the word ceremony in the Crystal method, a lightweight method created in 1990 by Alistair Cockburn.

The fact that words from other lightweight methods have come into use with Scrum is not out of the ordinary. For example, the term "Daily Stand up" comes from Extreme Programming, another lightweight method created in the 1990s.

Could it be that Scrum borrowed the term “ceremony” from the Crystal methodology? In short, I don't know. I haven't been able to find a verifiable source. I'll keep looking nonetheless, and if I find the answer, you can be sure I'll update this article.

PS: I note that the slide also contains a reference to the burndown chart and that the increment is missing! But that's an article for next time.


The term "Scrum Ceremony" is an anachronism. It is no longer recognized as an official term since the publication of the Scrum Guide in 2010, when it was replaced by the term "Scrum Event".


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Olivier MY

Olivier MY

Trained as an engineer and passionate about people, I quickly turned to the world of Agile coaching and Professional coaching. Today, I support individuals, teams and organizations towards creating value adapted to the constraints and challenges of today's world. I am committed to contributing to the professionalization of the profession, in particular through detailed feedback and inspirations highlighting the importance of an open, curious and respectful posture.


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