Family traditions are experiences or activities that are passed down between several generations. These traditions can be as unique and original as the family itself. In addition to being something to look forward to, traditions also establish a foundation for family values, unique ways of doing things and serve as special bonding experiences.
Traditions can provide families with a sense of unity and belonging. They can inspire positive feelings and memories that family members can share and relive. Family traditions also provide a sense of pride across generations. They are a way of transferring the family’s values, history, and culture from one generation to another.
Unique Family Traditions
Family traditions differ from everyday family life, that lack the symbolic meaning that unique family experiences hold. While family traditions carry a special significance for all family members involved, family routines are often basic activities that are necessary to keep the family unit operational. A family dinner on Friday night may be part of a family routine, whereas a family dinner at a favorite restaurant for Mom’s birthday may be a special tradition.
Many families have traditions that endure for many generations. These special activities or events often generate great memories that everyone cherishes and attempts to happily carry on with anticipation. Some traditions relate to the family’s heritage, like going to a cultural festival or cooking a favorite meal from back home on a certain day each year. Others may have to do with special events, such as a gold necklace that is passed down at each wedding. Still others are simply fun activities that family members enjoy doing.
For instance, a family full of football fans may make it a tradition to go to the stadium on opening day. This tradition may have started with grandpa and continues to involve the youngest members of the family, becoming something they look forward to planning and doing each and every year.
Why Family Traditions Are So Valuable
People create and maintain traditions because they bring meaning to celebrations and create strong family bonds. More importantly, traditions create positive experiences and great memories for everyone by nurturing a family’s connection and giving them a sense of belonging.
Family traditions also help children understand where they come from, who they are and what is important to the family to which they belong. Traditions create a connection for children that comes from knowing that they are part of something unique and extraordinary. Family traditions can even contribute to a child’s self-confidence and enhance their well-being. After all, children find comfort and security when things are familiar and consistent.
Benefits of Family Traditions
- Positive memories for families that last a lifetime
- Provide children a sense of security by providing consistency
- Family members feel a strong sense of belonging to something special
- Help pass on family values to future generations
- Keep generations connected and give them a strong family history
Maintain Your Family Traditions
Creating and maintaining family traditions is a wonderful way for families to bond over shared experiences. A way for them to connect to one another and to their family legacy. But keeping traditions going takes some commitment and creativity. While most people look forward to the stability and familiarity that comes with repeating the same activities each year, it also can be stressful if traditions are highly involved, very expensive, or require a lot of planning.
When you are establishing your own traditions, try to keep them simple. Think about playing games, sharing special recipes, going on a hike, seeing a performance, etc. These simpler traditions are more likely to be repeated and carried onto other generations. Likewise, your traditions do not need to cost much. There are plenty of ways for families to bond without spending a lot of money.
It’s also important to be open to trying new things out and then scrapping them if they don’t work. If you schedule a visit to see the lights display at the mall, it could become a fun tradition. But if it turns out to be a miserable experience because of horrible parking, it’s OK to scrap the idea and do something else next year.
You don’t want to repeat an activity over and over just because it’s what you’ve always done. The goal of a family tradition is that everyone has a good time and anticipates the next years get together.
Establishing Family Traditions
When most people think of family traditions, they naturally think of holiday traditions first, such as those surrounding Christmas, Hanukkah, or Thanksgiving. Events surrounding these holidays, like picking out a Christmas tree or gathering for Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma’s house with extended family can become regular traditions.
But families can also have non-holiday events that are unique to them. Pumpkin carving every fall or renting a vacation home every summer are two good examples. Some families also may have family traditions for every member’s birthday or to celebrate a big accomplishment in a family member’s life.
Family traditions may even be as ordinary as whipping up your special dish that is the birthday boy or girl’s personal favorite or going to dinner at a favorite restaurant. It may also be something funny or an inside family joke that becomes a birthday tradition.
To create those traditions for your family, think about things that your family enjoys doing and build upon those things. Keep in mind, that family traditions sometimes just form on their own too. Some of the best family traditions happen by accident. You could do something on a whim and the entire family loves it and wants to repeat it again. Before you know it, you have created a unique family tradition.
Traditions that are formed by accident are often the easiest to repeat year after year because the family looks forward to it automatically. But if you’re looking for ideas on family traditions that you can incorporate into your family’s life, here are some great ones.
Examples Of Non-Holiday Traditions
If you’re looking for some non-holiday family traditions, there are a lot of opportunities out there. Here are just a few that you can adapt for your family or for developing your own unique ideas:
- Get together one night a week for dinner, locations can differ every week.
- Kick off summer with a scrumptious barbecue
- Organize a family hike or beach day once a month
- Plan a family game night
- Catch the sunset together once a month with snacks and drinks
- Create an annual fitness challenge
- Volunteer on a community cleanup day
- Barbecues twice a month on Saturdays with different host locations
Social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic may have made it hard to stick to some family traditions, but this also makes it a good time to start new ones. Virtual game nights and family visits by video are a great way to establish new traditions that last well after the pandemic is over and strengthen your bonds with family near and far.
Holiday Family Traditions
If you’re looking to create new holiday traditions, here are some unique ideas that will get your creative juices flowing. Choose or adapt the ideas from this list or use them to come up with your own unique holiday memories.
- Host a family cookie challenge
- Create a Secret Santa gift giving event
- Attend a holiday event or live performance together
- Get together as a family every year at a designated host location
- Have a specific game scheduled at the yearly holiday get together with prizes
- Have a family holiday movie night
- Attend a community holiday event together
- Take a cruise to view holiday decor around the community, with dinner to follow
Final Words From Mistershaka
Family traditions are what create supportive families and strong individuals with happy memories. Traditions don’t have to be extravagant or cost a lot of money. All that’s required is something unique to do that is meaningful to your family. Traditions can be established any time of the year. If there’s something your family enjoys doing together, that’s a great start.