During this time of year, many families are celebrating a variety of holidays, and with that, comes holiday traditions. But what are traditions, anyways? And are they important for happy and healthy kids? Let's take a deeper dive into what holiday traditions are all about, and why you should consider sprinkling in some holiday fun into your family's life?
What is a "Tradition"?
Around the world, families are celebrating different holidays this time of year. Here's a look at a few different holidays and celebrations typically enjoyed:
Advent- a tradition celebrated by most Christians (but not all)
Hanukkah- a Jewish celebration
Christmas- Originally a Christian festival, it was adopted in the 20th century as a secular family holiday as well
Kwanzaa- An African American cultural holiday with a spiritual quality
Yule or Yuletide- A Pagan tradition celebrating the winter solstice
Omisoka- A Japanese tradition celebrating the importance of a new year
Boxing Day- A holiday practiced in a few countries around the world that celebrates giving to those who are less fortunate
These are only a few examples of special celebrations around the world, but rest assured that there are more out there. Every holiday usually carries some sort of tradition with it. But what is a tradition anyway? A quick Google search reveals the following definition from merriam-webster.com:
"an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (such as a religious practice or a social custom)"
At it's simplest, a tradition is nothing more than a pattern of behavior. This could be a pattern of behavior for one person, a group of people, a specific culture, a whole country, or even the world! Traditions often have special meaning, though, for those who celebrate it. The meaning might be spiritual or may have a special significance for the individual that maintains it (i.e. an individual celebrates their sobriety annually on the day they decided to "get clean"). The meaning attached to family traditions, as well as the consistency with which it is practiced, contributes to a family's narrative.
How Traditions Help Create Positive Family Narratives
In a previous blog post, Creating Your Family's Story, I discussed family narratives, diving deeper into what a Family Narrative (aka: Family Culture) is all about. This post reviewed 4 ways you can build a Family Culture. One tip was to foster your family's values in your children and to engage your children in activities that promote these values. One way we do this is by celebrating holidays that align with our family's values and engaging in traditions that help promote these values.
As you might assume, you create a positive family narrative when the actions and values your family celebrates are positive. Take a moment and consider your family's values. Have you ever stopped to really consider this? Many holidays this time of year are based in values of gratitude, giving, forgiveness, and starting anew.
What holidays are you celebrating this time of year and why? How do the traditions you engage in at this time demonstrate your family's values? There's a chance you've never thought of these questions before. There's no time like the present to gain a deeper understanding in your family's values and develop holiday traditions that connect your family on a deeper level.
How to Create Holiday Traditions for Your Family
What holiday traditions do you have with your family so far? In the previous section, I encouraged you to consider what values these traditions foster. Let's look at a few examples to help demonstrate this.
Friends & Family
Sharing a holiday meal with family
Sending holiday cards to loved ones
Donating food, clothing, toys, etc.
Volunteering at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter
Baking cookies together
Decorating the family home together
Sharing a holiday meal together