In a year where many of us have felt uprooted and out-of-sorts, we have become more abundantly aware of what matters to us: time spent with family and friends. We often gather together during this time of year to celebrate our time-honored traditions that we have built over years and sometimes generations. The challenges that 2020 has presented have made these traditions more vital.
What traditions do
Traditions act to reinforce our values. All major U.S. holidays encompass traditions stemmed from celebrations used to honor the importance of the core values at that time. Today, we use some holiday traditions to practice our faith, such as at Hanukkah, Christmas or Easter or to honor our freedom and those who fought for it, as with Memorial Day, Veterans Day and July 4. Others are occasions to commemorate personal milestones, like a birthday, anniversary, or a wedding.
The rituals surrounding traditions ground us by providing a connection to something greater than ourselves. When we mark occasions like Christmas or Ramadan, we feel connected through time to our ancestors, even if we never were able to meet them. That connection allows us to build a sense of pride and purpose, even if it is through something small.
These moments provide stability in our fast-paced and ever-changing life. They give us time to pause, reflect, and reconnect with our families and friends.
Traditions create a vital structure and foundation for our society. When we observe them, they remind us of our history, where we stand in the present, and the impact we will make on the future. At a time when our society’s traditions are at risk of becoming trivialized and over-commercialized, how can we preserve their value?
It is up to everyone to find the true meaning behind their family traditions like special family ornaments for the tree or nativity scenes passed from generation to generation. But why do we commemorate the occasion in this way? What’s the history behind it?
Christmas and traditions go hand-in-hand. As a multicultural nation, our traditions stem from much older, established traditions from other cultures and have been adapted to our nuances. A traditional Christmas dinner in the United States typically consists of turkey or ham with cranberry sauce. Families may also attempt to incorporate specific aspects of their ancestral culture by adding country specific dishes. For example, some Western European families may add Polish sausages, cabbage dishes and soups and some Italian families may prefer lasagne. Across the United States, there are traditions that stay consistent, while others vary by region. In the Southwest states, traditions may closely resemble those in Mexico with tamales present on the Christmas dinner table. In southern Louisiana, they honor their French roots by lighting bonfires along the river to guide Papa Noel to the children’s homes.
Honoring our traditions
The same principles can be applied to any holiday or traditional ritual. Our resolve has been tested; celebrating our traditions provides comfort and a sense of belonging. They give us opportunities to stay connected even when far apart. Even when virtual, moments spent together with the ones we love are more important than exchanging physical gifts.
From all of us at Amanda Howard Sotheby’s International Realty, we hope you and your loved ones find comfort and peace in however you celebrate this season.