Family Rituals and Traditions
Family rituals and traditions are important to the health and well-being of today’s busy families. They promote a sense of identity and a feeling of belonging. A ritual differs from ordinary routine by having some emotional significance. Traditions are often cultural, ethnic, or faith-based and can be handed down from generation to generation, connecting us to the past.
Rituals are important because they allow us time to communicate, problem-solve, and balance our time together. They provide opportunities to affirm family values, faith and life experiences, and time to celebrate together. As family bonds are weakened by busy lifestyles, families can stay connected by being intentional about maintaining important rituals and traditions. Kids love and cling to family traditions because they are predictable and stable in an unpredictable world. They remind children that they can depend on something.
Rituals and traditions can occur annually, monthly, weekly, daily, seasonally, or randomly. To start your own ritual or tradition, assess what you are already doing. What do you do on each holiday? How do you celebrate birthdays or anniversaries? Do you celebrate the first or last day of school? What are your nightly rituals?
As a family ask, “How much do we enjoy them? Is there emotion involved? What values are taught?” Rituals and traditions may need to be revised or redesigned as children get older, and to meet the needs of your changing lifestyle. Successful family rituals and traditions should be fun, frequent, flexible and simple.
Why are rituals and traditions important to our families?
So many of our favourite childhood memories are of family holidays that were repeated over and over again, are of good smells, good feelings, good times. Children and adults alike find comfort in knowing that something familiar and enjoyable is going to happen. Traditions are really the building blocks of strong, caring, happy families.
Traditions make us spend time together without the normal daily distractions because they are planned. Rituals and traditions make sure we do the things we really value, even when we are rushed and busy. Think of birthdays and Christmas. We make an effort to honour our children or family member on their birthday—we make time to celebrate. Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year—yet we plan Christmas lunch and make time to spend with our family.
Traditions help us build a family identity by establishing how we communicate, how we make decisions and solve problems, as well as how we celebrate birthdays, Christmas, Easter, milestones and other family events. This is when we put up the Christmas tree. We have an Easter egg hunt, or we make Easter egg baskets. When I am 13 I get…., when it’s my birthday I will…
Traditions make it possible to create a family history as they are passed on through the generations. Memorabilia and photos that show the family doing the same thing year after year make us feel connected to those who came before us.
Traditions give us many reasons to celebrate life together. They make it easy because you know what to do and how to do it. On Friday nights we have hot chips, on Saturday we make pancakes for breakfast, on Sunday afternoon we walk to the park/we visit Grandma! Since we are not rushing around worrying about what to do next, we can actually enjoy ourselves!
Traditions bring together generations, which can add such richness to our family life. The older members bring patience, wisdom and wonderful stories of the past. The young ones bring energy and excitement about life that brings joy to the rest of us.
Traditions help us organise our busy lives. Planning rituals and traditions on specific days of the week or year means those projects will get done, such as organising family photos on New Year’s Day or sending a card on someone’s birthday.
PRACTICAL IDEAS TO CREATE FAMILY RITUALS
Daily ritual ideas:
- Kiss and hug your children morning and night!
- After-school/afternoon tea rituals. Different food on different days. Friday night is hot chip night!
- Read a book to your child—even when they are 10!
Weekly ritual ideas:
- Go on a family morning or evening walk once a week.
- Set aside a time of the week to teach your children one of your favourite recipes.
- Put a note in your child’s lunch box or on their banana.
- Have a home video night with plenty of home-made popcorn!
- Plan family dates: Mother and daughter do ‘girls stuff’, father and son, grandparents and grandchildren.
- Make a family garden and veggie patch.
- Do something special or different with your children the day before they return to school each term.
- Have children wait until they reach a certain age until they get something special
- Celebrate your child’s thirteenth birthday in a special or unique way.
- Hold a formal dinner party for your family and another family. Include dishes with special significance to your family. Take time of the meal.
- Make a special place to display your child’s artwork or ‘special’ work.
- Have some fun
- Have a watermelon seed-spitting competition in summer
- Rake the leaves and jump in them in autumn
- Organise a treasure hunt to let your child find his birthday present
LENT is a great time to start!
We invite you to try these Rituals and Traditions during Lent.
- Select a candle to serve as your “Christ Candle”, and gather an additional candle for each person in your household. Begin your home devotional times this week by saying “Jesus, you are the light of the world.” As you do, light the Christ Candle. Then have household members take turns lighting their candles from the Christ Candle. As each one does, say together: “You are a child of the light. Make your light shine before others.”
- Daily silence to reflect on God’s presence in your life.
- Times of fasting by eating simpler meals with water or skipping meals.
- Limit the use of television, computer games, and social media to focus more attention on God’s grace in your life.
- End each day with a blessing: May the Lord Jesus bring you peace when you are afraid; may the Lord your God protect you in time of trouble and give you a song of joy in your heart.(Psalm 32:7)
- Have meals together with others and offer a Mealtime Prayer.
For some more great ideas for encouraging Faith at Home head to our Pinterest page.