The Importance of Holiday Traditions

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.


Value

  • Friends & Family

Tradition

  • Sharing a holiday meal with family

  • Visiting relatives

  • Sending holiday cards to loved ones


Value

  • Giving

Tradition

  • Giving gifts

  • Giving alms

  • Donating food, clothing, toys, etc.

  • Volunteering at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter


Value

  • Quality Time

Tradition

  • Baking cookies together

  • Decorating the family home together

  • Sharing a holiday meal together


So much of what you are already doing together as a family is fostering a deeper value that contributes to a rich and positive family narrative! But maybe your family traditions need some work. Maybe you're engaging in traditions that don't hold any meaning for you. Have you ever considered changing it? It's never too late to start a new family tradition! But remember, it only becomes a tradition when you do it consistently over time.


If you're ready to change or add some traditions to your family culture, it all starts with rolling up your sleeves and digging around in what you value. Think about it... what's important to you? What do you want your children to value?


Take time to draft a short list and then consider activities you can engage in with your children to foster these items. After that, get to action and start doing! Remember, traditions can be weekly (Ex: sharing in a family meal every Sunday), monthly (Ex: decorating the family home for different seasons and holidays), or annually (Ex: sending cards to family members).


Try your ideas out and see how it goes! If it doesn't feel right, don't be afraid to change it. Remember, your traditions should reflect YOUR family, not someone else's.


Good luck and Happy Parenting!

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