Family traditions are the very heart of family loyalty and faithfulness. They are the oxygen that sustains families in tough times.
I am so pleased to have a guest post by Karen of EntertainYourToddler.com. She has two young kids and loves to sip lattes as she writes. Her favorite family tradition is: making popcorn with the girls on Friday nights.
Family traditions may conjure up images of stringing popcorn garlands for Christmas in December or receiving red envelopes for Chinese New Year.
Still, others may think of using Grandma’s special recipe for roasting a turkey or spending summers on the farm with Uncle Jerry and Aunt Sally.
Whatever your family traditions are, they all share a common thread: they remind of us the good days.
According to Psychology Today’s 5 Ways to Create Family Traditions:
Traditions are those special times that bring families together, allowing us to express unity as a family and to create bonds that last a lifetime.
Family traditions fill us with warm feelings, unite our families, make us feel safe, and teach us to value what matters most.
It’s never too late to start a new family tradition!
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Let’s dig into this topic a little more.
What Are Family Traditions?
In Examples of Family Traditions to Build Bonds, Rebecca Fraser-Thill states that a family ritual or tradition:
is a set of behaviors that is repeated and that is symbolically meaningful. Family rituals provide families with a sense of identity and belonging
Don’t confuse family traditions with everyday routines! A family tradition is so much more than a routine.
Traditions are intentionally created to pass on a family’s values, culture, beliefs, and identity in a meaningful, memorable way.
Brushing your teeth before bed is a routine, but singing that one special lullaby to your child every night before bed is a ritual or tradition.
A special hot chocolate drink oozing with marshmallows to celebrate snow days off from school is a great example of a family tradition.
It is linked to an event (snow days) and is repeated. Emotions attached to it of the home being a sanctuary in the bleakness of a bitter winter day make this a tradition that is likely to pass on from one generation to the next.
Why Are Family Traditions So Important?
Traditions make us happy. Think of how a young child looks forward to his birthday. He knows there will be cake, presents, and so much attention just to celebrate him.
Family traditions give us something to look forward to. It’s the one time we hold sacred to celebrate and connect with the people we love most.
Family traditions help our families to bond. Laughter and happy memories are what make a family joy to be a part of. The family bond is stronger when we connect with each other through family rituals.
No matter how far a family may drift apart on a weekday, perhaps they make it a tradition to sit down for a quiet, family dinner on Friday night and then spend time together playing games. It helps them feel close and connected again.
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Family rituals provide comfort and security. We like to know what to expect. Young children especially thrive on routines and predictability. Traditions offer a rhythm to life that helps us feel safe and comforted.
Remember that traditions are routines with special meaning. As an extension of a routine, a family ritual helps us to organize and add purpose to our days.
Traditions teach family values. Each family is different and every family has different values. They may be based on personal belief, culture, or religious belief, but we all have our own set of values.
What is a lesson that you want to pass on to your kids? To your grandkids?
A meaningful family tradition can help you teach posterity in a way that doesn’t feel like an exasperating rule, but something to be treasured and shared over and over again.
Examples of Family Traditions
If you’re wondering about traditions to start with your family, simply take a look at the things you do every year in the holiday period especially during Christmas.
Check out this YouTube video by Elizabeth Grier-Floyd of her family’s Christmas traditions
Family Traditions You Can Start Right Now
These traditions are not linked to any major holiday. Christmas traditions and birthday traditions are in a league of their own!
Rather, these are simple, meaningful activities for you and your family to share and adapt for yourselves.
1. Family Laughs Book
Does your family love to laugh? When something funny happens that causes belly laughs all around, record it in a family laughs book. Make it a ritual to read special memories from the book once or twice a year. Bonus points for including hilarious photos.
2. Family Prayer
For our family, saying a prayer together at bedtime is an important ritual. It’s a time where everyone gets to share what’s weighing on their hearts and where we give it up to God.
3. Family Meal
Eat together! It doesn’t have to be every evening if you’re trying to make this a new tradition. It doesn’t even have to be at dinner.
Choose one meal where everyone can be home for at least an hour. Try cooking together, too. Getting kids involved with cooking will give you an extra chance to connect with them while doing something meaningful.
Our family loves to brunch. We have to go out to do this because the sheer volume of food we can put away would take much to long for us to prepare!
Why not try out a local restaurant’s breakfast or brunch offerings and make that a Saturday/Sunday morning tradition with your family?
4. Baking Together
With the introduction of junior cooking competitions, kids are eager to get in the kitchen and let their creativity loose.
Think of the spin off Math benefits that comes with measuring ingredients and working with fractions.
Of course, mom has to supervise both the baking and the cleaning up.
5. I Love You Notes
The art of letter writing is not dead! Prove it by writing a love note for each of your family members. Tell them one thing that makes them special, and remind them how much you love them. Then slip the note into their backpacks, under their pillow, or someplace they visit every day but may not notice right away.
6. Have a Special Way to Say I Love You
Some of us struggle with saying the words “I love you.” It can be so hard for these people to get the words out no matter how strongly they may love someone! If this is you or someone in your family, come up with a special phrase or even sign that lets the people in your life know how you feel without saying the L-word.
7. Family Time Capsule
As a family, fill a time capsule with things you love and write a note to your future selves. Decide how many years you will wait to open it. (No, you don’t HAVE to bury it, but isn’t it so much more fun to?)
8. Annual Photo Shoot
Everyone with a smartphone is a photographer these days. Set aside a day every year (the same day each year preferably!) to do an annual photoshoot. Get shots of parents together, siblings together, just the girls/boys, and of course the family photo. Make it silly; make it sweet; make it yours.
9. One on One Time
Regularly schedule one-on-one dates with each of your loved ones. Make it special by planning something to do together or somewhere to go. And for heaven’s sakes, everyone turns off your phones and focus on the other person!
Take an interest in your kids’ and find a way to give back using their interests. Do your kids like to run? Participate in a race for charity. Are your kids constantly talking your ear off? Visit a nursing home and chat with the residents. Get creative and help others.
This quote sums up the importance of family traditions:
Traditions touch us, they connect us, and they expand us.
Rita Barreto Craig
These ideas for family traditions are just the tip of the iceberg. Make up your own or adapt one of these to fit your family’s unique identity.
Whatever traditions or rituals you decide to adopt should increase happiness, strengthen the family bond, provide comfort and security, and pass on your values.
And isn’t that a great legacy to leave for your kids? Do you have any family traditions that have helped you bond as a family? Share them in the comments below.
Karen is the blogger behind EntertainYourToddler.com. She believes families are stronger when they play together and children learn best through play. Get to know Karen better by following her on Pinterest.