What is a family tradition, and why are they important?
It’s funny. Human beings seem to crave being part of a group, of something bigger than themselves. All through history people have organized themselves into tribes, villages, cities, regions, teams. . . and within each of those they have created customs and visible signs of who they are as a group. Clothing. Ceremonies. Traditions. Things that showed that they belonged.
To me family traditions are something that your family does in the same way (generally) at a specific time of year (or in a specific set of circumstances such as “birth of a baby” or “first snowfall”). They don’t have to be big or expensive things (as a matter of fact many family traditions don’t cost anything!) but they do need to be a re-occuring happening and to hold some meaning for the people involved–even if the meaning is just that “We always do this together”.
That pretty much falls in line with what the Free Online Dictionary says a tradition is:
1. The passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation, especially by oral communication.a. A mode of thought or behavior followed by a people continuously from generation to generation; a custom or usage.b. A set of such customs and usages viewed as a coherent body of precedents influencing the present: followed family tradition in dress and manners. See Synonyms at heritage.2. A time-honored practice or set of such practice
- We don’t decorate for Christmas or play Christmas Carols until after Thanksgiving. And the whole family has to hear from me about how I refuse to decorate or listen to Christmas Carols until after Thanksgiving
- Snow days are for making either cookies or homemade soft pretzels–especially the first one.
- Scalloped oysters is a side dish at Thanksgiving.
- We all sit down at some point and watch “A Christmas Story” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” as a family.
- On the day we decorate our Christmas tree we drink Gluwein (German hot spiced red wine) and eat Potato Pancakes for dinner.
- During Advent we place an advent wreath with 3 purple candles and 1 pink candle on the table and every night when we eat dinner we light the appropriate number of candles and let it burn all through the meal, then we read from “The Advent Book” after dinner.
- We attend church on Christmas Eve (and participate in the pageant), have ham in the crockpot for dinner, and then everyone opens a new ornament for the year and puts it on the tree.
- The last thing before going to bed on Christmas Eve is a reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.
- Santa puts a pickle ornament on the tree each year, and the first kid to find it gets a small extra gift on Christmas morning.
- Open presents, eat breakfast THEN open stockings. Anything else is just wrong :) And the kids are not allowed to go downstairs until the grownups are awake and have a pot of coffee brewing.