In today's hectic world, family traditions are an important way to establish lasting bonds and create a sense of belonging. They're a wonderful way to keep those you love closer together and create warm memories that will last a lifetime.
Traditions can be as simple as serving a favorite birthday meal on a special plate or planning popcorn and a movie together every Friday night. Some families have established more elaborate traditions, like spending summers together at the beach, taking a family ski vacation during the winter holidays or tending a family garden.
Some traditions are rituals that are passed down from generation to generation, and help create a sense of unity and belonging among its members. Holiday traditions, such as carving a pumpkin at Halloween, leaving cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, even hitting those early Black Friday sales the day after Thanksgiving, help make the occasion even more special and create wonderful memories.
While many family traditions are built around cultural and religious holidays, traditions can be built around everyday events or "just because." They can be serious and meaningful, such as lighting candles together to mark Hanukkah or other religious holiday, or simply going to weekly worship services together. They can also be lighthearted and fun, such as eating breakfast foods for dinner or scheduling an occasional day reserved for board games, movies and baking cookies.
Counselors and child psychologists urge families to build their own traditions because they strengthen family bonds and help children feel safe and emotionally healthy. Traditions provide structure and offer continuity and safety in a climate of constant change, where families can look very different from home to home and extended families are spread apart over vast geographic areas [source: Creamer].
A study done at George Washington University's Family Research Center indicated that children benefit greatly from households with established rituals, even when problems like divorce or alcoholism arise. Activities like setting the table, sharing a meal together, or reading a book before bedtime helps strengthen the family bond. Daily rituals can even help family members resolve any issues as they working together in constructive situations [source: Dengel].
If your family doesn't have any traditions to call its own, it's never too late to begin. Read on to learn more about introducing new traditions to your family.