Inside: Family traditions are the glue that holds families together. Here are some fun family traditions to incorporate into your home and why great family moments become amazing family traditions.
Don’t you love traditions? And don’t you love practicing traditions in your home and with your children? Family and traditions go hand-in-hand. And, everyone–single or married–can establish meaningful traditions in their lives and in their homes.
At every age and stage with our children, traditions played a very important role. We incorporated traditions for every holiday and rite-of-passage. We borrowed traditions from my family, my husband’s family, from friends and from books and magazines. And, we found that sharing family traditions between friends makes them even more meaningful.
Why Family Traditions are Important
“There are no perfect families and there are no perfect relationships—just great moments,” says the late author and writer, Carol Ottesen. And great moments can become great traditions. Despite the message of TV’s reality shows—that there is only one winner—when combining family and traditions, everyone, including future generations become winners.
By definition, traditions are beliefs and practices enacted repeatedly from generation to generation and taught by face-to-face contact within small groups.
Family researcher Lloyd J. Newell, Ph.D. of Brigham Young University describes traditions as the “heart” of the family and the “core” of family life because they both sustain family members through life’s challenges and weave connections between generations. From the simple to the elaborate, traditions keep families close by providing a solid foundation that helps to stabilize and organize family life and provide important life-sustaining memories.
5 Meaningful Family Traditions
Here are 5 simple family traditions that you can incorporate into your various celebrations. Some are done around holiday time, while others can be done daily. All of them have been practiced and are cherished by family members.
St. Patrick’s Day Celebration
Megan and Mikel Poulsen of Bremerton, Washington will never forget the green milk and pancakes their mother made for breakfast every year for St. Patrick’s Day. It was one of the many traditions celebrated in their home and they looked forward to the holiday with eager anticipation.
A Grandmother’s Lullaby
Heidi Fisher of Pierce City, Missouri fondly remembers a German lullaby her grandmother sang to her each night before going to sleep—a lullaby that had been passed down for three generations and now continues on with her nieces and nephews.
Games in the Car
In order to keep their four children occupied and happy while taking road vacations, the Spencer family from Ft. Collins, Colorado traditionally plays “Beetle Bug” while in the car.
String Gift at Christmas
For over 30 years, Bernard and Judy Van Wie of Rancho Palos Verdes have strung twine for each of their three girls on the Christmas tree leading them to their “most meaningful gift.” “It has been a tradition in our home for as long as I can remember. And now that our children are grown, this tradition has been passed down to our grandchildren,” she says.
A Tradition of Canning Fruits & Veggies
Being single doesn’t stop Jeannette Peck of Bountiful, Utah from creating traditions in her home. “During the summers when I was growing up, it was a family ritual to pick fruit in nearby orchards. We brought bushels of fruit home and either bottled it or turned it into jams and jellies. I vividly remember the fun we had laughing and joking as we worked together around the kitchen table.”
Today, Jeannette has over 30 fruit trees on her property and she uses the fruit to make dozens of jars of jams and jellies for family and friends.
Whether it is a favorite family recipe, a special family song, a certain game played on vacations, or a bedtime story repeated night after night, traditions are laden with meaning and purpose.
Fun Family Traditions
Everyone can implement traditions into their homes either through rituals that are handed down from generations past or borrowed from others. Creating traditions coinciding with holidays is an easy place to start. For example, specific foods prepared at holiday time can quickly become favorites that can be served traditionally year after year.
Joanna Lyons of Rancho Palos Verdes, California started the tradition of making Rocky Road Bars for her family and now her daughter and sons make this same dessert for their families.
Along with food, holiday activities that are repeated year after year can also become meaningful traditions. Seeing the Nutcracker ballet or A Christmas Carol can become a yearly holiday outing. Barbecuing at the beach or breakfast in the canyons for the 4th of July, traveling yearly to a favorite vacation spot or having a weekly family game night can become essential traditions that strengthen family ties.
Family Traditions: The Glue that Holds Families Together
Traditions create a sense of personal and family identity and can be the glue that holds and binds a family together in both good and bad times.
When Barbara White, of Torrance, California was newly divorced, she found that it was the traditions from both her childhood and those she had created with her children that kept the family close during the transition time after her divorce. “When faced with problems I find that going back to my roots—my family and the tradition of love, compassion and caring—help me to see the solutions more clearly. It is my family and the traditions forged there that remind me who I am and what is eternally important. They provide both the anchor and the compass that gives me the footing and direction I need.”
It seems that during uncertain times, it is the family that individuals turn to for solace and comfort and for finding solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems.
Addressing the unrest in the world today and where to find solutions, Thomas L. Friedman, Foreign Affairs columnist for The New York Times, believes that the home is the best place to start. “About the only thing we do know for sure is where the cure has to start. It has to start in the home, the basic building block for any community or country. Nothing good will happen in your statehouse, or in your schoolhouse, if it does not start, and is not sustained, in your own house.”
According to Newell, family traditions are vital to the family and hence have the power to lift the family out of the everyday and into a realm of meaning and purpose.
“Traditions have the power to change and mold a family into a more functional unit. They are vital to families and individuals because they link the past with the present and thereby allow for continuity or change. Traditions have meaning not only because of what they represent now but also because of what they represent of the past or presage for the future.”
Summing up the life-sustaining power of traditions, Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof concludes,