Family traditions keep beliefs and values that are passed down through generations alive. They help people feel a sense of consistency and belonging in the family, they can offer security and comfort, and they contribute significantly to a family’s identity.
Traditions also help family members bond and link generations together. They teach children values about culture, heritage, and religion that they can use to navigate the world around them. In fact, research has shown that children who are connected to their family history with traditions are more self-confident and well-adjusted than children who are not.
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How to Create and Pass Down Family Traditions
Whether you’re interested in learning how to pass down family traditions or create new ones, the key is to remember that at the heart of it all is a deeper meaning about values that connects family members through the ages.
Have a Purpose
Every family tradition must have a purpose. What do you hope to achieve with your tradition?
Do you want to help newly introduced or recently reconnected family members get to know each other better? Are you hoping to instill a sense of uniqueness and identity within your family? Maybe you hope to give younger family members a link to the past to strengthen a sense of family history.
Whatever your purpose is, make it intentional. Make sure all other family members understand what the purpose of the tradition is. Having this understanding will foster more enthusiasm, gratitude, and participation.
Make the Tradition Personal
It’s perfectly fine to instill traditions that are common in many families. For example, many families read “The Night Before Christmas” and don matching winter pajamas on Christmas Eve every year.
However, when you make your tradition personal — that is, unique to your family — it adds a whole new level of significance to it. For example, a more personal tradition for Christmas Eve than reading a story would be to have each family member contribute a paragraph to a Christmas story that the family creates together, adding a little bit to it each year.
Continue Childhood Traditions while Adding New Ones
There is no rule stating that you cannot merge new traditions with those you held during your childhood. This is especially important for older adults who have new family members enter the family with their own traditions.
Maintaining traditions through generations doesn’t just positively impact children; it also has a positive effect on older adults. They often swell with pride seeing younger family members carry on traditions that bring back fond memories of their own childhood.
At one time, psychologists thought of nostalgia as being a sign of unhappiness and depression. However, research now shows that it provides many positive benefits, such as warding off anxiety, counteracting loneliness, and increasing feelings of generosity toward others.
When a person relocates, traditions can become even more valued. Maintaining old traditions will help family members adjust to their new surroundings and strengthen a sense of belonging that doesn’t change, regardless of location. Creating new traditions after a move can help establish acceptance and even excitement about the new location.
Create Special Family Behaviors or Activities
When creating new traditions, think about memories and activities that are important to your family. What would you like your grandchildren to remember when they are older? What values are important to you that you want to instill in them?
For example, if it’s important to you that your grandchildren develop a sense of giving back to the community, doing volunteer work as a family might become a tradition. If it’s important that your grandchildren appreciate the outdoors, develop traditions that promote that, such as visiting a botanic garden every year.
Traditions are special family behaviors or activities family members do when they’re together. This can be a unique gift exchange during the holidays or an annual trip to a place everyone enjoys. Creating new traditions is important for keeping everyone involved and interested as the years go by.
By focusing on your family now while giving a nod to family members of the past, you can maintain traditions and start new ones that will create meaningful memories for everyone along the way.