Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving here in the United States. For me this holiday was especially meaningful because it was the first I’d spent at home with family in 2 years. I was excited to experience all the traditions that went along with it. On the day of Thanksgiving, I woke up early and watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television. After the parade it was time for football, followed by a meal of traditional foods.
To be honest, I’d forgotten about the parade but was happy to find someone had thought to turn on the television and watch it. As I watched I realized that I didn’t especially enjoy the parade for what it was but more for what it represented. Again with the football game. I wasn’t a huge fan of either of the teams that were playing, but the tradition of it was the most important factor. The team I was cheering for didn’t win and I didn’t really feel disappointed.
So, why are traditions important?
1) They provide a sense of comfort. Because traditions are familiar, you know what to expect because the tradition has been repeated over time. There is no surprise or anything new, you have fond memories of the last time you participated and you feel a sense of security.
2) They bring people closer together. The holidays give families a reason to come together and celebrate. Even families fraught with interpersonal issues may put their grievances aside for a short time to honor the tradition.
3) They give you a sense of belonging. Because everyone is celebrating the same tradition, you immediately have a lot in common with those around you. You are a part of the community because you know all the rituals surrounding the tradition and engage in them as a group.
Are there any other reasons why traditions are important? What traditions do you enjoy the most? Why? Do you disagree? Maybe traditions aren’t really important?