I just love family traditions. As a child, I loved listening to my mom talk about all the things they’d do as a family or the things that her mum always did on specific occasions.
Years later, she still remembered that stuff. That’s the thing about family traditions – we tend to remember family traditions fondly.
I’ve always been fascinated about people’s traditions.
- I loved discovering “Nyepi” – Bali’s “Day of silence” marked by meditation and, well, silence.
- I was tempted to start celebrating “Einschulung”, the German tradition where kids celebrate the first day of school and the transition from preschool to elementary school. On this occasion, they get a decorated cone made from cardboard and filled with goodies.
- I completely fell in love with the Chinese 100-day celebration and regretted that I had learned about it when my kids were way past 100 days old.
Basically, this tradition involves celebrating a child’s 100th day birthday. Family and friends gather to welcome the child and wish him or her to live to 100 years old.
Everyone has traditions, and many of those traditions have been passed down from one generation to the next for years. Some of well- known traditions include:
- Turkey eating on Thanksgiving
- Decorating the Christmas tree
- Making resolutions for the new year
- Watching fireworks displays for the new year
Although all these traditions are shared by millions of families around the world, specific families also have their own personal family traditions. A tradition is basically something that is done around the same time on a regular basis – daily, monthly, yearly, every two years, and so on.
Every family has its own family traditions
Every Saturday night in Autumn and Winter is “movie night” in our house. Watching movies as we have a carpet picnic has become a weekly ritual.
During the week we go to the local library and choose the movie we’re going to watch. Then we decide on what we’re going to eat. The basic rule is something quick and not too messy.
Then everyone participates in making the meals and “setting everything up”.
We didn’t know just how much our son looked forward to these nights until one of the parents at school asked us if we could tell her “exactly what we did” because her son wanted to do just like “his friend did with his parents every Saturday night.”
Every family has family traditions. According to Jay Schvaneveldt and Thomas R. Lee, there are 15 top family traditions:
I still remember celebrating birthdays when we’d cook the birthday girl’s or boy’s favorite meal then have chocolate cake and custard. It was always chocolate cake and custard. Always. And we always had some left over for breakfast. Yum!
One of my husband’s favorite memories is the two days every year his family would spend preparing home-made sausages. The whole extended family took part in this ritual that would give them enough sausage to last the whole year.
They’d buy pork and then family members would take turns mincing, seasoning, frying and tasting bits to see if the seasoning was right (his favorite bit) and filling the sausage casings.
How important are family traditions?
There is plenty of research about why having family traditions is awesome. In her book The Joy of Family Traditions, Jennifer Trainer Thomson highlights some of the proven benefits of family traditions from research undertaken on the subject:
– family traditions lower stress because they reassure and add to our wellbeing.
– children who feel connected to their families are much less likely to abuse drugs and engage in other risky behavior.
There have been other studies on family traditions:
– One study found that diabetic children in families which maintained regular traditions had fewer behavioral problems than those whose families had no traditions.
– Another study found that traditions serve as an anchor during hard times; they let you know “that life goes on.”
– A third study found that when families of alcoholics maintained dinner time and holiday ritual practices and did not allow a parent’s alcoholism to interfere with this time, the chances of transmitting alcoholism to the next generation were greatly reduced.
How family traditions help bond your family
Family traditions are one of the most effective and easiest ways to strengthen your family’s bonds. Having the entire family participate in activities that they appreciate helps create a common identity. Also, such memories are often remembered fondly.
The available research has shown that family traditions:
– Act as a foundation for families.
– Give families a sense of identity.
– Are a source of strength and stability as they give families something to rely on.
– Bring families closer together.
If you’re looking for family traditions that you can try with your family, look no further. Here are 35 fun and simple traditions you can start right away.
35 family tradition examples your entire family will love
1) Movie night
Movie night is the classical family tradition. Combining our “movie night” with a carpet picnic enables all our family members to participate in “the making of the movie night”, from choosing the movies to preparing for the picnic.
2) One meal theme for each day of the week
We recently began our “simplicity meal plan” after reading the book Simplicity Parenting. We really should have thought of it sooner. The authors suggest that meals should be predictable – you choose one theme for each day of the week and stick to it (pasta night, steak night, soup night, etc.). According to them, recurring meals provide children with roots and are easier to prepare (yay!).
3) International night
International night is one of the traditions our family tried but it proved too difficult for us to keep up.
Each month we would pick one country to celebrate. After choosing the country sufficiently early, we would start compiling stuff about it; What do they do? How do they dress? What do they eat? What music do they listen to? We would then look for food recipes from that country and prepare a meal to eat together.
Both Google and the local library are invaluable resources is you would like to try this out.
4) Outdoor picnic
Outdoor picnics can provide a great opportunity for your family to bond and an “outdoor picnic night” can be a great tradition to start in the summer.
5) A game night
Game nights are another great option for spending time together as a family. The games my family adores are the simplest ones. Jenga, Spot It, Jungle speed and Qwirkle are great hits in our house – and they also help your child develop skills such as their fine motor skills, attention and concentration and visual perception skills. They also help them work on their reflexes.
5) A read-aloud tradition
Read-aloud traditions are a great for families and they can also help reluctant readers learn to love books.
6) Poetry night
The Dutch have a lovely tradition during the winter holiday season. Each person (except small kids) pick a name and then they must compose a poem for the person whose name they picked. The poems written, which are usually funny and personal, are then read aloud on “gift night”.
7) Cultural events
Are there any events your entire family enjoys? Why not start going to the same cultural event every year?
8) New recipe
Discovering new recipes can be a fun tradition that your family will enjoy. Once a month, take turns choosing something no one has tried before then make the meal together as a family.
9) Weekend brunch
Starting a Saturday or Sunday brunch tradition is something your entire family is sure to enjoy.
10) Go on a hike
Why not pick one day per month, for example every first Saturday of the month, to hike together?
11) Breakfast for dinner
Your kids are sure to enjoy having breakfast for dinner on Fridays!
12) Charitable acts
Once a month, why not do something for the less fortunate together. You can ask your kids to donate the stuff they no longer use, or buy and deliver food to your favorite charity.
13) Start a reading marathon
Each month, choose a theme and have each family member read a selected number of books by the end of the month. Give yourselves a treat if everyone finishes their books
14) Choose your own “family day”
Why not choose one day of the year, give it your family name, and celebrate that day each year? You can cook a meal together, order take away or go to a restaurant to celebrate.
15) Start a gratitude tradition
At dinner, have everyone say what they appreciated most during their day.
16) Start a family talent show night
Choose one day of the year or of the month and have all family members show off their talents.
17) Family concert
If your family members play musical instruments, a family concert day is a great family tradition to try. Even if they don’t, every family member can learn a simple song to play – or they can sing or dance
18) Do one activity per day
Scheduling 15 minutes at the end of each day is a great way to bond your family. Have each family member write something that they’d like to do and put all the ideas in a jar. Each day, pick an idea and have the entire family participate in the activity. If you’re looking for easy and short activities for the whole family, download and try out the free 30-day challenge below.
19) Start a “yes day”
Have you seen “Yes day” on Netflix? Basically, parents aren’t allowed to say no to their kids for 24 hours. If you’re courageous enough (I’m not!), why not start your own family yes day?
20) A date with mom and dad
Choose one day each month and let your kids decide how they want to spend that day with you.
21) Start a camping family tradition
Many families enjoy camping – going camping at the same period or to the same place every year will help build shared memories.
22) Start regular family meetings
Starting each year with a family meeting where you can talk about everything concerning your family can make a great family tradition. It is also a great opportunity to let your children express their opinions.
23) Make your own Christmas decorations
Making your own decorations each Christmas is a great family tradition to adopt. You can also make homemade Christmas gifts for each other or for your relatives and friends.
24) Start a “family hobby”
Starting a tradition where family members learn something or do something together can make a great bonding experience.
25) Cook together
Why not cook together every Sunday night? Everyone can chip in to ensure that this activity is a success.
26) Start a mindfulness and meditation tradition
Meditating together once a week or once a month is a great way to release stress and to strengthen your family ties. This article has simple mindfulness and meditation exercises your entire family will enjoy.
27) Start a birthday tradition
If you would like to start a birthday tradition, there are many lovely ideas to pick from: have every member of the family write down what they appreciate about the birthday boy or girl and read the messages on their birthdays, leave birthday love notes, send a birthday voicemail, give your child one new privilege (and one new responsibility), and so on.
28) Organize an obstacle race
An obstacle race is a fun activity that can help strengthen your family ties
29) Start a takeout night
Choose when you would like to have takeout night and take turns choosing what to order. Be careful when choosing how often you’ll have takeout night to manage the costs – you can also set the amount to spend on takeout.
30) Start a movie marathon
Choose one day of the year, get all the snacks you need, choose your movies, and do a movie marathon night.
31) Start a cookie day
Start a cookie day for your entire family just before Christmas – and cookies also make great Christmas presents.
32) Start a dance party
Why not choose one day per week or per month, put on your favorite music, and just dance!
33) Start a backyard movie family tradition
Get a projector and start a backyard movie night in the summer.
34) Start a bedtime tradition
One of our family’s bedtime traditions is to ask each child about one thing they enjoyed most and one thing they enjoyed least during their day. We find that this routine enables them to speak about things that they may not have necessarily spoken of.
Other bedtime traditions could involve having your child say goodnight to 10 things, reading or telling a story, singing a song, and so on.
35) Start a pizza night
Every Friday is Pizza night at home, and I honestly think that the kids would stop speaking to us if we changed Friday nights! Pizza dough is really simple to make and making your own pizza also means that you can try out many different recipes.
There are so many great activities that you can adopt as part of your family’s traditions, but there are a few things to keep in mind if you want those traditions to last.
How to make new family traditions work
The general rule when it comes to family traditions is “the simpler the better”. The simpler they are, the higher the chances that they’ll work. If they get too complicated, they take the fun out of things and become chores rather than something that we remember fondly.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to make your family traditions work
1) Do not make it about quantity
When starting out with establishing family traditions, the temptation is great to try out a whole lot of traditions. Traditions are repeated actions and behaviors, and they require intentionality. They are things you do repeatedly so come up with stuff you’ll actually find time (and energy) to do. It’s OK to skip some days but consistency is key when it comes to traditions. Starting slow is better than trying to take on too much too soon.
2) Make it intentional
When deciding on a family tradition, think about the things you’d like to achieve. Our “movie night” tradition was initially an attempt to foster our son’s creativity (by helping him make and decorate goodie boxes) and a fun way to make him participate in deciding on and making meals.
3) Make it fun
Traditions are not supposed to leave you frustrated and dreading every Saturday night. Choose fun traditions in line with the entire family. What’s your family identity? What does your family like? What don’t they like?
4) Don’t get too complicated
Many fantastic traditions are dirt cheap. If you’re short on ideas of traditions from holidays and birthdays to bed times, meal times, pets, and even chores, The Book of New Family Traditions has hundreds (literally) of ideas. Keep it simple.
5) Make sure everyone can participate
One of the reasons traditions foster cohesion is because everyone participates. Choose traditions that require the participation of everyone. Let the children decide the menu, help prepare meals or do the cooking, choose films or board games, set the table, help make take-away boxes…the list is endless.
6) Be flexible
So the idea you thought would be awesome is turning out to be a real nightmare? Let it go. If no one is looking forward to the family tradition, it’s a sign that it is time to change.
7) Start now
Don’t procrastinate. The more you procrastinate, the more likely you are to do nothing. There are so many traditions that you can start right now. Search the internet for family traditions that suit you. Look for ideas from family and friends.
I love hearing about people’s favorite family traditions so please tell me about yours in the comments section below.