One of my favorite family traditions began with my grandma, who would always make funnel cakes whenever my family visited her. Years later, I asked her how to make them, and she taught me. Many family traditions have to do with holidays and holiday food, while others might revolve around birthdays or religious events. These traditions can strengthen family bonds, contribute to your children’s identity and well-being, and create lasting memories.
A helpful way to receive the full benefits from traditions is by identifying, learning, preserving, and then passing them on to future family members.
Take a minute to think about the traditions that your family has. These could include:
- Traditional, favorite holiday meals or desserts
- Birthday celebrations
- Family dinners
- Saturday morning breakfasts
- Family trips
- Nighttime rituals
- Family calls
- Pizza nights
- Family walks
Visiting and speaking with older family members can teach us about our family traditions and the stories behind them. Having a family narrative is healthy and influences the rising generation. In his book, The Secrets of Happy Families, Bruce Feiler records a conversation he had with Marshall Duke, a professor at Emory University. According to Duke, “The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem, and the more successfully they believed their families functioned.”
Feiler continues: “What generates the sense of attachment and emotional toughness is the process of hearing all those old stories and seeing yourself in the larger flow of your family.”
Traditions are a great way to share these stories that can strengthen our identity and help us navigate life’s challenges.
Speaking with older family members also opens the door to discovering traditions that used to exist in the family, but no longer do. This discovery may give you the opportunity to revive them.
To pass our traditions on to future generations, you need to identify them, preserve them, and then pass them on. A great way to preserve your family traditions is with the FamilySearch Memories App. You can find the app on the FamilySearch Apps Gallery. This app includes a feature that allows you to orally record and then preserve your memorable experiences digitally. Some family traditions fade away because no one has recorded them.
You can keep a treasured family tradition alive by putting it into practice, recording it with photos, an audio file or a video file. Then teach family members the story behind the tradition. You may also find it necessary to modify an existing tradition. For example, a tradition that may work for a family with toddlers may not work when those toddlers become teenagers.
Some families may feel that there aren’t any traditions in their family. With a little digging, you’d be surprised what has been passed down through the generations. These traditions can enhance and solidify your family culture. Of course, you can also create your own family traditions. You can be the first generation to create a new tradition that your posterity will enjoy for many generations to come.
What are some of your favorite family traditions? Share in the comments box below!