The value of tradition

The holiday season is quickly approaching, families are beginning to plan their get-togethers, and family tradition is at the center of all the excitement. This time of year is filled with the hustle and bustle of picking out gifts, baking goodies and spending time with family.

Every culture and religion has its own unique traditions. For Christians, the Bible holds many of our traditions. The whole year is carefully planned around upholding this meaningful season. And while Christmas tends to dominate other celebrations, there are many others like it. For example, Kwanzaa is a holiday observed in African cultures. It celebrates the African diaspora in the West each December. Each culture around the world has celebrations and times they observe as important throughout the year. Different countries and cultures celebrate Christmas differently, each uniquely and equally meaningful. Learning about the traditions kept by other cultures reveals what they value.

Traditions connect people from different generations. Many families have things passed down from generation to generation such as recipes, stories or mementos. These things hold sentimental value as they are representative of the people they came from. Traditions serve as a common denominator in family gatherings, like a framework for holiday festivities. They hold everything together each year, from making the same types of cookies to Christmas morning schedules. Every family celebrates the holiday season differently, with some following countless traditions and some making it a tradition to celebrate differently each year.

There is something rich and meaningful about doing things the same way year after year. While there is change and uncertainty throughout the year, traditions during the holiday season remain something to look forward to. In my family, I am the one who makes sure all traditions are followed. I make sure things go the way they always have even to the point of my family teasing me for it — all in good fun, of course. Christmas wouldn’t be the same without going to the mountains to cut down our tree or going sledding on Christmas Eve, two of the traditions that my family has kept throughout my lifetime.

There is a reason why holidays are celebrated year after year and traditions are kept from generation to generation. If it wasn’t fundamentally important to the human spirit to keep cultural celebrations consistent and meaningful, we might be inventing new holidays each year. I think part of the reason we value tradition is because it binds us both to the past and the future. Looking back in history books and family photo albums, we see pictures of people celebrating holidays, especially Christmas, in similar ways as we do today.

Over the next month, as Christmas music plays from radio stations and shopping centers and calendars fill up with ugly sweater parties, take a minute to enjoy partaking in tradition. Don’t forget to take a picture to look back on someday.