How to Update Old Traditions for New Families

How can you keep old traditions alive?
How can you keep old traditions alive?
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Every generation inevitably puts their own stamp on family traditions. In one sense, this may seem to defy the point of a tradition -- as a set of rituals or customs that remains unchanged throughout time. However, modern traditions are generally family-specific. Even within a culture that celebrates similar traditions, each family tends to put a unique spin on them with their own particular rituals [source: Coady]. And, it follows that as families change, so do the traditions. Perhaps traditions, like pie crusts, are meant to be broken.

That's not to say that keeping traditions doesn't serve very important purposes. The need for ritual seems to be ingrained in our human nature. Anyone who has spent much time with children knows how important ritual is for them in particular. Kids appreciate a routine and are sometimes resistant to even the smallest changes. In studies, children with regular rituals and routine within family life tend to be healthier and better behaved [source: Fiese]. The ritual of regular family mealtimes is believed to be one of the most important traditions a family can institute [source: APA].

Most of all, traditions should strengthen family bonds. But when an old tradition no longer does that, it might be wise to update it for new times and new needs. A marriage is one of the most common reasons for updating old traditions. After all, the two people bring with them different traditions from their own families, and they have to find a way to merge them together to form new traditions once they start their own family.

Traditions are perhaps most important when it comes to divorce, death and other events that cause significant changes in families. Evidence suggests that keeping up traditions can help the family through traumatic events [source: Jackson]. However, such events will also usually necessitate updating or changing the tradition in some way or another.

How do we update traditions without violating their original spirit and purpose? Small adjustments might be all that's necessary.