I was thinking about family traditions the other day. When I thought back to my own childhood, I was surprised by how many traditions my parents had established for us over the years. It was actually known by most of the neighborhood that Saturday night was pizza night in our household. My mom would make homemade pizza letting us help her out. When it was done, we would watch our favorite shows on TV: Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett (boy, am I dating myself or what!). I didn't even realize it, but I have carried this tradition on with our "movie night." It is something I look forward to every weekend.
Most family traditions occur around the holidays. Our tradition at Christmas was a Christmas Eve fondue. We used to fight over who had what skewer (light-heartedly of course). It was a great tradition that has actually been carried on. To this day, we have fondue with my parents on Christmas Eve.
Family traditions and rituals serve many purposes. In her book "The Book of New Family Traditions," Meg Cox differentiates between traditions and rituals:
The dictionary says that traditions are "beliefs and customs handed down from generation to generation," whereas a ritual is "an action repeated" or "an established procedure for a religious or other rite."
She points out that anthropologists have never found a human culture without rituals. I have mentioned in other posts that structure helps children feel safe. Daily structure or routine is a ritual in itself, isn't it? Perhaps you have a bedtime routine, e.g., bath time, read a book, snuggle and then bed.
She points out ten things rituals do for children:
- Imparts a sense of identity
- Provides comfort and security
- Helps them to navigate change
- Teaches values
- Passes on ethnic or religious heritage
- Teaches practical skills
- Solves problems
- Keeps alive a sense of departed family members
- Helps heal from loss or trauma
- Generates wonderful memories
Tomorrow, I will share some of my favorite traditions from Meg's book (which I highly recommend every keep on their shelf!). Until tomorrow, I want you to think about what traditions or family rituals you remember from your childhood. Have you incorporated any of them into your family life?