What do Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, and other winter holiday celebrations share in common? Traditions. Of course, “tradition” has a broad meaning and permeates cultures in all its forms. At their core, traditions are simply ideas that are passed down from one generation to the next. Traditions can come in the form of belief systems, ideas of what’s considered normal within a specific culture, and so on.
Traditions play a vital role in cultures across the world. Of course, as our societies grow, as cultures mix and interact, traditions often come into the spotlight and are naturally challenged. As people grow and progress, some traditions are kept, some no longer practiced, and some are changed to better reflect the cultural climate and modern beliefs.
Traditions can also affect our daily and yearly calendar. From our personal, everyday traditions (such as having your morning coffee in your favorite mug, or that daily afternoon walk to gather yourself) to our yearly celebrations and holidays. Most cultures have developed holidays around the winter solstice to help us get through the dark, cold times that have been historically trying and difficult. But within the cultural traditions, individual family traditions often develop.
Every household seems to have created their own unique traditions and practices. Some families may play new games each night of Hanukkah. Other families may have specific stories of Santa Claus they tell on Christmas or different gift-giving celebrations. And as people marry, their own individual family traditions can carry over, or the two of them will naturally create their own traditions.
There is an incredible importance to traditions. They help to bring us together, giving us a common focus, a mutual goal, a sense of unity and shared culture. Even the anticipation of traditions can create a sense of joy and excitement. Whether it’s the anticipation of tomorrow’s morning cup of coffee, or the excitement leading up to the family gift exchange on Christmas Eve. Traditions connect us as a people, as a family, and can help bring a light to our lives even during dark and difficult times.
This holiday season, what traditions are you most excited for? Has your family developed its own unique customs and celebrations within that holiday? We’d love to hear how you celebrate!
Photo by Sweta Meininger on Unsplash