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Large-scale, spectacular theatrical production or procession. In the Middle Ages, a pageant was the wagon on which religious plays such as mystery plays were performed. Because the plays were associated with ceremony and spectacle, the term came to refer to any extravagant dramatic event or colourful celebration. Pageants often serve to express the shared identity of a community or religious group. Secular pageants include coronations and royal weddings; other modern examples are seen in Mardi Gras and other carnival processions.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on pageant, visit Britannica.com.