Think of your favorite childhood memories. How many of them were centered around traditions? Chances are, many of them were. Things like decorating gingerbread houses at Christmas, staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve, or going on vacations during the school holidays are all fun traditions that help unify families.
Here are a few reasons to continue family traditions, and ideas to start your own.
Why Are Traditions Important?
For many of us, traditions may have looked like the food we ate during the holidays or projects we did together during our holidays and school breaks. The key to a tradition being a tradition is that it was repeated often.
Family traditions are an important part of a family unit because they provide a unified identity, emotional connection, and celebrate what makes your family unique, among many other benefits. When you are planning your traditions, focus on the relationships within your family and what you can do to grow and strengthen them.
Having daily traditions is just as important as having annual traditions. Things like making and having a big breakfast as a family on Sunday mornings are great ways to check in with each other and make time for connection on a weekly basis. The great thing is that many traditions work for all kinds of families. Whether you are married with kids, single, child-free, or living with roommates, make traditions that work for you.
Other family habits can include:
- Reading a chapter from a book every night before bed.
- Having dinner together every night and sharing about your day. Don’t be afraid to share the hard things too. Some families play “mad, sad, glad,” where each person tells one thing from each category about their day.
- Take up a sport together and play regularly.
- Work together to get household chores done.
- Have a movie night with candy and popcorn. And just like in the theater, be sure to silence your cell phones!
- Technology-free night once a week.
- Game night – everyone takes turns picking the game!
- Lunch-making hours after dinner (if you have school-age kiddos).
- Family walks.
Traditions breed a sense of security in us because routines are comforting and take away the unknown. Therefore, many of us get a warm feeling when thinking about the holidays of our childhood. We knew what to expect and looked forward to it.
More than the usual holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Lunar New Year, think about others that are important in your family, such as summer vacation, spring break, and birthdays.
Do you do something every year for these times? Here are some ideas:
- Let the birthday recipient pick dinner that day or take them out to a restaurant of their choice.
- Invite a family member to cook with you and then enjoy it together!
- Display the age they are turning on a paper or letter board and take pictures with it every year to see the progression.
- Conduct an interview on every birthday and ask the same question every year. Write down their answers or take a video to see how their answers change.
- School breaks
- Pick a house project to work on as a family.
- Rearrange your kids’ bedrooms with their help.
- Take a day trip to a nearby town and discover new places to have fun.
Some fun family traditions can stem from your family’s heritage. Not sure where your family came from? There are some great resources online to do some family history searching and find out. Here is a list of 50 (free!) resources to get you started.
Once you’ve established the country your family emigrated from, you can do a little research to find how those countries celebrate different holidays and occasions (or your family might already be doing some of them and you didn’t even know it!). Here are a few interesting Christmas traditions from countries around the world.
Celebrating your family’s heritage can be more than just fun – it can help give your family a sense of identity in knowing where they came from, why they look the way they do, and how they can learn from their ancestors.
If you haven’t established traditions in your family yet, it isn’t too late! The great news is there is no expiration date on when you can start – and the best time to start is right now.
Decide with your spouse, family members, roommates, or on your own what is most important to you and what you want to pass onto the next generation. Maybe during summer vacation, you take a family camping trip and for Thanksgiving, you volunteer at a soup kitchen. Make the decision now and then carry it out when the time comes. Be creative and make them work for you!
Traditions are a huge part of our lives, even if we aren’t totally aware of them. By being intentional with how we celebrate life events and holidays, we can unite our families and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Looking for more holiday tradition ideas? Read our blog post “New Traditions to Start This Holiday Season.”