Growing up, you most likely experienced family traditions. Maybe they were "passed down through generations" or maybe your parents came up with them on a whim one night and they stuck. A tradition is defined in Oxford Languages as "the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way." Traditions don't have to be some old-school practice that your great-great-grandfather established, though!
Establishing your own traditions can foster a sense of belonging and continuity within your community of loved ones. Traditions bring you closer together and create lasting memories for your whole family. Sometimes traditions start as a more formal occurrence, such as opening one present every Christmas Eve before bed. Other traditions may evolve from habits, like having a family game night on the first Friday of the month!
Here are some tips and tricks for establishing family traditions of your very own:
Start with a purpose.
Do you want to spend more quality time with your family? Do you hope to create fun holiday memories? Is there something you remember fondly from growing up that you'd like to bring to the next generation? Answering these questions will help you create purposeful and intentional traditions.
Get the whole family involved.
Some traditions may be kept small and intimate between your immediate family members, while some traditions may expand out to include your entire extended family! Creating ownership and investment in your traditions is a surefire way for them to be sustainable celebrations.
Keep it simple and achievable.
A common mistake when trying to establish traditions is making them too complicated or involved. To commit, your traditions have to be easily achievable by all involved family members. If it turns into a hassle, it won't be fun and sought-after!
Be consistent, but flexible.
Traditions are rooted in consistency — doing the same thing with the same people at the same time. However, sometimes things come up in the schedule that may conflict with a preexisting tradition. Don't get discouraged if this happens because, at the end of the day, the timing doesn't so much matter as long as you're celebrating with your loved ones.
Document your traditions.
Take photos or videos to look back on! Make a dedicated photo album or shared online folder for capturing these special moments with your family. Documenting your traditions ensures that generations to come will be able to see the longevity of the celebration.
Traditions can involve anything and everything! Many people have traditions that coincide with a holiday they celebrate. Other family traditions can include having family dinner once a week, taking annual family vacations, celebrating birthdays a specific way or even volunteering for a cause that's close to your family. Here are some family traditions that our team at Evenflo has experienced!
"Growing up I'd go to my grandparents' house the day before Easter. I'd plant a lollipop stick in the ground, and by the next day, a lollipop tree would appear! I remember being so excited by this magical feat. Little did I know at the time that my grandpa would stick a tree branch into the ground and my grandma would tie lollipops to the branches with ribbon! I hope to continue this tradition with my own family when I have kids one day." - Hannah D.
"On New Year's Eve, we light a fire in the firepit, write down a wish for the year ahead, then toss them into the flames and watch the paper bits rise into the air and float away. This is the most fun when we have guests but we try to do it every year no matter what!" - Brook L.
"When I was little, I used to wonder why there was a Mother's Day and Father's Day, but no Kid's Day. When my kids were really little they asked me the same question. About 15 years ago I decided to turn Father's Day into Kid's Day. So every year instead of celebrating Father's Day we celebrate Kid's Day on the Father's Day date, and I buy them gifts and plan a day for fun things for them. Makes me happier to spoil them than to have them do anything for me." - Eric P.
"We only just began this tradition — in England they celebrate Boxing Day. So, on that day we typically take the day off from work and we watch all the Harry Potter movies." - Caitlyn S.
"I am half Greek, so my family has always celebrated Two Easters. On American Easter, the Easter Bunny would make a visit, hide Easter eggs we had colored and then during the day we would see my dad's side of the family and eat American food. Then on Orthodox Easter the Greek Easter Bunny would make a visit and we would see my mom's side of the family and eat all the Greek food you can imagine and go around the table and crack red eggs with the extended family. The person whose egg does not crack gets good luck for the year. And, if the Easters fall on the same day it is an overload of candy and food. My brother, sister and I are keeping the tradition alive with my niece & nephew — a way to get together and keep connected to the Greek culture we grew up with." - Tara S.
"My father was a coach and athletic director at our local high school. Our world revolved around 'home teams' and 'visiting teams' because he would order the school buses for the teams while on our home kitchen phone. One year in December I kept asking to drive by the church at night with my mom to see what was going on. That following weekend I was really excited to show my dad what they had built at church during the week. The parish had set up a lovely rustic scene for the Holy Family. Unfortunately, while everyone else was looking at the 'nativity scene', I was thrilled to show my father that I had found the 'visiting team'. Our family has called it the 'visiting team' ever since." - Martha T.
"Before my mom passed away, she and I would take a trip to Europe each year. She lived alone and this provided a good reason to regularly get together to plan — we'd get books from the library, rent Rick Steve's DVDs, and we'd map out a trip. We'd spend the whole year chatting and planning and sharing ideas. Then we'd take the trip, and right away begin planning the next one. We did this every year for 8 or 9 years before she passed." - Eric P.
No matter the tradition, it’s important to spend quality time doing the things you love with your family. Sharing special memories from generation to generation is a great way to create lasting memories!