A tradition is a belief or behaviour passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past.
Really rather simple isn’t it? A belief or behaviour passed down.
A notion of holding onto a previous time.
Last night we celebrated Diwali. Marrying into an Indian family has resulted in adopting some traditions that I did not grow up with. Diwali is a family tradition that my husband has grown up with. There are stories and memories from years of Diwali that only he has access to. Of course, those stories are shared and we celebrate the festival together alongside other members of the family. However there is a certain amount of ‘feeling’ that I have missed that can prevent me nostalgically celebrating this festival. I listen to the stories told by others and last night (after 10 years celebrating Diwali) I began to nostalgically look back on previous years of how we celebrated. I could feel the memories seeping in. The traditions that were forming in the back of my mind.
Is 10 years what it takes for a tradition to set in?
So it got me thinking about traditions. What do they mean to us, what did they mean to our parents and our Grandparents. Every generation thinks that the previous generation and the next generation is vastly different from theirs. Is that so? No, we all want the same things in life and traditions are often the thread that connect us.
I recently sent out party invites to my daughters school friends (I am struggling to believe she is turning 5) and people responded in the normal text standard way. One text stood out from a parent who was unfortunately turning down the invite due to a family tradition of a trip to the Lake District taking place the same weekend. How lovely.
Later that day I was in the car listening to the radio and a man called in and was talking about his family tradition of visiting Devon on a particular weekend with his entire family, something they had done for 40 years, without fail.
My sister lives in Singapore and previously we lived in India. Summer holidays were the one time we were able to all get together. It is now a tradition that we go away for a week somewhere. It is a chance to connect, make memories and laugh.
So what do traditions mean to you?
What traditions do you have?
Perhaps you have recently become a parent and the word tradition has become more poignant over time, you are more aware of what you are handing down to your children. Trying to make memories for them to hold on to.
Around the world traditions are played out daily. From the first birthday of a child to their 18th, families will be handing down, playing out and passing on the traditions known to them and their own memories.
Around the world
China – the first birthday of a child is pretty special wherever you are but did you know in China babies are placed in front of a basket of toys and they are encouraged to ‘grab’ one of the toys in front of them. The traditional act is known that whatever the child grabs, will have some bearing on what they will grow up to become.
Greece – when a child loses their tooth, instead of wrapping it in tissue and hiding it under their pillow they are encouraged to throw their tooth onto the roof of their house reciting the words “Take sow my tooth and give me an iron one so that I can chew rusks.”
Germany – The first day of school for our children is still a rather recent memory for most of us (I can’t believe it is now half term..where has the time gone) and it is a rather special day. In Germany children receive something called a ‘Schultute’ which is filled with school supplies and treats. I bought my daughter Clark shoes!
India – when a baby is born it is traditional for the newborn to wear old baby clothes handed down from another family baby. It is thought the cloth will be soft and full of positive feeling for the new born. Handing down the positive love from another baby.
Are there traditions that are handed down through your family?
Perhaps you were unaware of them until you had children and suddenly your Great Aunt appeared and bequeathed upon you rituals that have been known to everyone through the generations, but you.
Perhaps you have no traditions and now you want some. You are growing more and more aware of the need to pass down something to your children, other than debt and a broken world!
My husband and I talk about traditions quite a bit. I grew up in a house that celebrated Christmas and Easter and my husband grew celebrating Diwali and Rakhi (and many more) As we clamber through the world of child raising we discuss the values that each tradition brings and why we would want our children to experience it. As a family it is important to communicate to our children what the festivals mean and why we celebrate what we do, they often get distracted with the promise of gifts and sweets, which is easy to understand in our over consumed world.
As we move into the festive season many traditions start to roll out. From visiting Santa on a steam train to buying onesies and sitting with your family and watching a movie it is about the connections you make with others when you take part in your tradition. It is the moments you make that get carried forward year after year, that when your children grow up and have children of their own they carry on with the tradition, sharing it with their children, reminiscing in their own childhood memories and reflecting back on the nostalgia of what a tradition means to them, to the people they love.
So have a think of what you might want to introduce this year for your family.
Halloween is not far away. Perhaps costume making is your thing.
The 12 days of Christmas? Do you have your own way of celebrating the advent?
Unfortunately the tradition of Elf on the shelf has made it into our house…and now I already feel the pressure of coming up with funny and original tricks that the elf comes up with overnight. If anyone else has gone down this path, you will feel my pain!
Time to make some traditions? This time of year is perfect for them.
Hand them down and pass them on!