When our Sociology class was assigned to write about family traditions, I instantly became nervous because I couldn’t think of one tradition off the top of my head that was special and unique to my family. I sat there and wondered, should I tell the truth and reveal the fact that my family doesn’t have any traditions? Should I make one up and fake my way through the entire thing just to get a good grade? Should I take someone else’s family tradition and call it my own? As you can probably tell, I was completely stuck. I feel as though my family traditions are ones that are shared with other families around the world. The typical family traditions that I’m referring to are about are during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. During Thanksgiving, we always have our annual family dinner down at my grandmother’s house. All the women of the family cook different dishes such as turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, etc. The women usually sit around the dinner table while the men of the family assemble in the living room and watch TV, typically football. The children of the family usually sit at a separate table and after they are done, they usually go outside to play. Christmas traditions and the traditions of Thanksgiving are much in the same.
Occasionally after everyone gets their stomachs full, we usually play a game called “catch phrase.” There is never a dull moment when we play this game. It is similar to charades in which you hold a device that shows you a word that you must describe to your teammates without saying the word directly. When I was assigned this essay, I went to my mother, hoping that we had a tradition that I just overlooked. Needless to say, I was back at square one, she couldn’t think of any that were unique! I began to look to my peers for help, which resulted in the usual, “Just say something obvious, like, ‘On the twenty-fifth day of December, my family opens presents that are left underneath an artificial tree by an obese man who has some strange obsession with red clothes and non-existent animals who can fly’!” That wasn’t much help either. In comparison to the traditional Caucasian holiday traditions, I researched via internet on the African American holiday traditions. A common statement that I found was that “Today’s Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are just a taste of how African Americans used to eat.” Before you slice into that sweet potato pie, douse those greens in hot sauce or cut a corner of macaroni and cheese this holiday season, consider where those traditions came from.
In the late 19th century, geography factored in how people celebrated the yuletide season. During this time, African Americans lived mostly a rural existence, which translated into a farm-to-table lifestyle. I found a blog of two sisters discussing their African American culture during the holiday seasons. Sisters Norma Jean and Carole Darden discussed their history and recipes in recounting African-American life and culture. Their grandmother’s traditions were passed down to them in which they will pass them down to their children and so on. She lived on a dairy farm and wanted milk and cream in the family’s dishes. A favorite dish was painted Christmas cookies, made with rose water and orange-flower water. Norma will be preparing Thanksgiving dinner for her family in November. She’s been cooking since age 9. Her dinner table will have turkey with corn bread dressing on the side, many quarts of giblet gravy, whole cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. But in homage to her stepfather, she’ll make smoked oysters for an appetizer, corn and peas as a side dish as well as yams in a cast-iron pot, without marshmallows.
Just as he taught her. We live in an age in which it is hard to spend time together as a family. Many families today wonder if having quality time together is a thing of the past. We are inordinately busy, for one thing, whether household bread-winners or college students. Also, the definition of family has changed. We are dealing with new definitions and characterizations of the idea of family. Some of us have traditional families. Some families have divorced, single, and/or remarried parents, creating a rather confusing family tree. Some people choose to live their lives alone, but may still be close enough to some friends to consider them family. Whatever the circumstances, many of us honestly don’t know how to celebrate together. We may even see the word “tradition” as something dulling and old, having no meaning for or application to us personally; something usually being forced upon us. It is up to us to create new family traditions. Celebrating is not hard. We all know about celebrating and have some ways of doing it. The only challenge is to find new ways. Why do we need to celebrate tradition? It gives us something to look forward to and makes a formal statement that there are some things in life to be grateful for.
The notion of honoring tradition is unsettling for some people; let alone creating new ones. We seem to think that traditions must be heavy and complex ideas that had been around for hundreds of years and will be around for a hundred more. In my opinion, this is not true. It need not be big or religious at all. I believe a tradition is something that you do once that feels good, so you do it again and again. Tradition is in all our lives in one way or another. Without participation in such activities there would be no family bond or pride. Being involved in these activities brings people closer and makes us understand who we are. Everything we do and every day of our lives we take part in a tradition in one form or another. After writing this paper, I realize that my family traditions may not be unique to others, but they are special to me and the members of my family and that is something that I will always cherish and hope to pass down to future generations.
Did you ever hear one of your kids say, "We always" when speaking of a family activity or event?
Kids love rituals of all types: bedtime rituals, Friday night pizza and movie nights, spending the night at Grandma's on Saturday night, and especially holiday rituals.
In fact, if you do something that kids like once, they often expect it to be a ritual that continues.
Rituals are an important part of childhood. Think back to your own childhood and the things you "always" did.
Your family probably took part in daily, weekly, annual, and holiday rituals. These are all a part of family life.
What is the difference between a regular daily routine and a family tradition?
All of the things your family does on a regular basis are part of the family's routine. This includes the normal daily activities like what you eat for breakfast, weekend activities like kids' sports or visiting relatives, and activities during the week like eating dinner together as a family.
Some regular parts of your day can also be family traditions. For example, if a part of your daily routine is eating breakfast together as a family, that is a family tradition.
What are family traditions?
- Practices and beliefs
- Create positive feelings
- Repeated regularly
- More than just routines
- Some are handed down from generation to generation
- Some are created within a single branch of the family
- Some are spiritual in nature
- Some are part of your cultural or ethnic heritage
Why should you have family traditions?
- Strengthen your family
- Create a connection between family members
- Links you to other generations in the family
- Creates a feeling of closeness and togetherness
- Allows the family to spend special time together
- Gives kids a sense of belonging and identity
What kinds of family traditions are there?
Day-to-day family interactions include
- Dinner time rituals like sharing the best part of your day
- Bed time rituals like reading a book and saying prayers
- Weekend morning rituals like watching Saturday cartoons
Family traditions specific to your family may include
- Church on Sundays followed by lunch at a favorite restaurant
- Vacations to Myrtle Beach or the Outer Banks
- Weekly or monthly family meetings
- Pizza nights every Friday
- Visiting out-of-town relatives over summer vacation
Celebration traditions involve special events
- How and where birthdays are celebrated
- Where holidays are spent and with whom
- How anniversaries are celebrated
Some extended family traditions
- Vacationing together
- Sunday dinner at Grandma's
- Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving dinners
Think of a family like a bank account. You make deposits of time and energy to the family bank to create a strong family. Family members withdraw what they need from the family bank during difficult times.
Family traditions are one of the types of deposits available to the family bank.
Changes to family traditions
Family traditions almost always change when parents divorce. Due to changes in where kids live and how they spend holidays and birthdays, traditions may change a little or a lot.
Some family traditions change over the years as your children get older. Good examples of changes due to older kids are bedtime stories and family movie nights.
Other traditions change as your children grow up and have families of their own. Opening gifts on Christmas morning and Easter morning egg hunts will take place at your grown children's houses instead of taking place at your house.
Sometimes families review long-standing traditions and decide that one or more no longer fit their lifestyle.
It's a good idea to talk as a family about any traditions that you feel may need to change. Weigh everyone's input and the reasons for the changes to make a decision.
You may be surprised how much you and your kids are attached to long-standing traditions. If one family member really wants to keep a tradition, it's best not to change the tradition if practical.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post from me. I'm a freelance writer/blogger and tutor at Write My Essay service.
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