The term York Rite is a term most often used in the United States of America to refer to a collection of Masonic degrees that, in most other countries, are conferred separately. As such, it constitutes one of the two main branches of Masonic concordant bodies in United States Freemasonry, which a Master Mason may join to further his knowledge of Freemasonry. Its name is derived from the city of York, where, according to a Masonic legend, the first meetings of Masons in England took place, although only the lectures of the York Rite College make reference to that legend.
The York Rite is one of the concordant bodies of Freemasonry. York Rite Masonry, which takes its name from the old English city of York, dates back 1744 in the U.K., has been described as the oldest and purest of the Rites. Like other forms of Masonry, the York Rite is not a religion. Nevertheless, it does develop Biblical themes in addition to themes based on the Medieval Crusades. In the York Rite, A Master Mason may become a member of three bodies — actually a group of separate Rites joined in order. These include a:
The divisions within the York Rite and the requirements for membership differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the essentials are the same. In all the workings, the one requirement is that all applicants be in possession of the degree of Master Mason (the third degree of Freemasonry).
The other principal branch of Freemasonry in the United States is the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.