Tradition: the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation.” When we stop to think about why family traditions are important, a few immediate answers spring to mind.
Tradition reminds us of the generations that came before, of fond family memories. They can also bring us a sense of history or togetherness. They’re comforting and familiar.
Most of all, they’re totally up to you. While many family traditions are generations old, new traditions are born all the time. Every tradition originally came from somewhere, so there’s no reason why you can’t create your own, whether you’re a newlywed couple or a family with grown children.
All that matters is that they’re worth keeping in the family.
The traditions we keep and pass down to younger generations are largely informed by our family’s story. Holidays, recipes, special trips, even something as simple as a Sunday pancake breakfast – they all tell the story of where we’ve come from.
Stories are powerful because they offer a connection. Every tradition comes with its own story. We don’t hold on to specific beliefs or memories if they don’t mean a great deal to us. We certainly don’t incorporate them into our daily lives or family gatherings.
A tradition is like reaching back through the generations that came before and touching something from before our time. It’s a reminder that we came from somewhere else, something else, someone else. Even if we’ve never personally been to the country our grandparents immigrated from, we can still hold on to a piece of it through a meal or cultural practice.
Our loved ones won’t be with us forever, but they can live on through family traditions. It’s a way of honoring their memory and remembering our origins.
As we pass these practices and memories down to our own children, nieces, nephews, and even little cousins, we’re offering them the connection and comfort we ourselves have enjoyed. Like an initiation rite, they’re brought into the family fold.
That’s a beautiful thing.
Tradition comes in many forms. Some newer, some older. When we talk about traditions, we might be talking about:
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Traditions can be grand or simple, private or public, shared by others or yours alone.
You might not even think of many of the things your family does as tradition, but they are. Going caroling around the neighborhood, opening presents Christmas morning, lighting a menorah, regular group prayer…these are all traditions. They may be shared by many, they may be very old, but they’re still important practices for your family.
Even something as simple as a standing family movie night or going to Grandma’s for dinner every other weekend is a sort of tradition. If you do it together and it keeps you close, it counts.
We’ve opened up the discussion on exactly why family traditions are important, but we can go even deeper. What are the specific reasons why every tradition has an impact and can help your family unit stay strong and healthy? Read on!
It’s a well-documented fact that doing activities together as a family, especially family meals, enhances communication, builds self-esteem, and strengthens family bonds. The same is true of any routine activity that becomes part of your family life.
Traditions can be kept to immediate family, but often they also include extended family. When you don’t see your extended family often, it can be difficult to maintain that connection or bond. However, when you have certain family traditions to fall back on whenever you do get together, it strengthens that sense of belonging and reminds everyone that you come from the same place.
Some families sing together. Others have large holiday meals or attend their house of worship. Still others might take a road trip or have regular reunions. Whatever you do to stay in touch with the people who can’t always be with you will help keep family ties strong.
Every last one of us has a history. For some, we can trace that history back through genealogy and kept records. Others aren’t so lucky. That’s where tradition comes in.
No matter where your family originated, it’s highly likely that a least a part of your family’s history is interwoven in the traditions you keep. Those traditions can give you a great deal of insight into the past.
A traditional meal that your grandparents cook together could be a small glimpse into the town where they were born. A favorite song your aunt loves to sing and play on the piano every New Year could tell you about the time she spent in New Orleans, where she learned from the jazz greats. Making wishes on the Yule Log before you burn it on the solstice might hail back to the ancient practices of your Germanic ancestors.
No matter how small the tradition, start to pay attention to where it originated and why you do it. You can learn so much about your family this way, and that’s a big part of why family traditions are important.
Similarly to know where you came from, cultural traditions can help younger generations learn who they are and who they can become.
Many of the traditions we take for granted in the United States as the “norm” are in fact simply the traditions of the majority. In reality, there are thousands of unique family traditions practiced by people throughout the nation and the world.
Exploring these traditions can give children insight into how their family story is unique and the things that make them special. From frying latkes to tying a wish to a tree at the New Year, every practice is an opportunity to learn about family practices and why we do the things we do.
These cultural traditions can extend to country of origin, religion, and much more.
There’s no better reason to maintain your family’s closest held traditions than creating wonderful lasting memories.
Stop for a moment and consider some of your most treasured childhood memories. Odds are good that you’ll remember all the big and little things that your family did as routine. The warm holidays, the yearly trips, the meals you shared.
Repetition is scientifically proven to be one of the best ways to retain information and create long-term memories. This is why we remember routines so well and why repeated traditions stand out in our memory.
When you do the same thing like clockwork, it creates a lasting impression on your mind. Those special memories will be so important in years to come.
If you’re worried about being unable to remember a special event or that the details will be lost to time, you can always capture your family traditions using the Rosy Go app and make sure they have a home in the Rosy Home console, where you can scan photos and documents, record video, make voice notations, and more. It’s the perfect place to permanently store memories in a secure place.
As mentioned earlier, traditions can be personal, but they can also be global. Many people throughout the world share common traditions. Some are based around a place, some around a group, others around a culture.
One of the things that makes us uniquely human is our ability to communicate through stories and shared experience. These ties give us an incredible bond. When you meet another person that shares the same beliefs, values, and history you do, there’s an immediate connection.
In today’s world of information technology and access, we can all become global citizens. However, these smaller, more intimate traditions will continue to connect us on an even closer level.
We can see how other people live and we can also bond with people across the world who come from the same traditions we do. When the current state of the world keeps us apart, we can use technology to build bridges and stay in touch.
Every family has a story. Every family has an origin. The reason why family traditions are important is because they help us keep track of and share those stories.
How do you keep your family close? With the technology we have at our disposal, we can continue to record and share our oldest family traditions while making brand new ones. Not every tradition needs to be generations old. You can start your very own tradition today!
Tradition is where your family’s heart is. Find something you all enjoy doing together and make it routine. Flag football in the park on Independence Day, seeing the Nutcracker at Christmas, cooking one meal a week together, reading a favorite book out loud before bed… the possibilities are endless, and they’re totally up to you.
Imagine if generations from now, you can share something you love with your family. Picture everyone learning more about you and where you came from because they have that bond of shared history. Isn’t that an incredible thought?
Even if you can’t see everyone you love right now, you can work around it. Make a weekly virtual check-in date with the grandparents or put together a virtual game night using a digital tabletop!
We hope your traditions are many and varied, and we hope you enjoy them for many years to come. Rosy will always be there to help you keep the schedule organized and the memories saved!
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