This is a time of year when traditions abound. Some you may ascribe to how your grandparents did, some you may have released and some traditions you are creating right now.
But why are traditions important?
What do they offer us? Why continue a tradition? Why release a tradition? Why create your own traditions? All interesting questions.
Taking part in traditions allows us to connect with others in our family, community, and worldwide.
Traditions create a routine that grounds us, offers stability, and brings predictability to our daily lives in uncertain times. Tradition gives us a constant to rely on and fall back on when we face challenges.
Traditions connect us to our parents, grandparents, and beyond, the people who made it possible for you to be here today. Carrying on a tradition is a way to honor our family and remember our ancestors. We can pass tradition on to our children, who we hope will, in turn, pass it on to theirs, and the cycle continues.
Often these family traditions revolve around specific foods which can bring comfort and joy. I will forever make my mother-in-law's Sweet Potato Souffle, as we feel a holiday meal is not complete without it!
Traditions give us hope; the people who passed them down survived hardships and challenges, and taking part in a tradition is a reminder that we, too, can get through hard times.
Lighting Shabbat candles on Friday night is a cultural and long-time family tradition that I have chosen to honor and continue in my family. It certainly looks different from when my grandmothers lit their candles but nonetheless, it is a moment to pause and reflect each week, and it brings family joy. When I face hard times, preserving the tradition of lighting candles keeps a sense of normalcy even amid chaos.
But then there are some traditional foods and customs that have gone by the wayside, either because of your preference (perhaps jello salad or pickled herring is just not your thing) or because a tradition does not serve the core of who you are.
Letting go of a long-held family tradition can be a challenge.
It may cause discomfort or bring up many questions from other family members, but it is an opportunity to create new traditions that resonate with you and an opportunity for learning growth for your entire family.
You may be curious about starting new traditions for yourself or your family.
You don’t have to start with the big ones like switching up the most essential holiday meal, you could start with some more minor traditions.
Often we think of traditions as something just for a holiday or certain time of year, but there is power and value in a tradition that is done on a more regular basis.
Something as simple as a Pizza Night on Sundays can give you something to look forward to every week. You don’t have to think about what’s for dinner because you have established this tradition. Knowing what you are having for dinner frees your mind up for other things ,which I know in my household makes Sunday nights much more relaxed.
When you are experiencing challenges, it is hard to think of ways to bring yourself and your family calm, comfort and peace. But, if you establish weekly or daily traditions that support you and bring you comfort, you know you can turn to them in a time of need.
This holiday season, I offer you three reflection questions you can think or journal about:
What traditions ground you and bring you comfort?
Which traditions have you released?
What new traditions you would like to start?
I’d love to hear from you on your reflections! Please post a comment below.