Celebrate family traditions

Celebrate family traditions

By Phyllis Picklesimer, Media/Communications Specialist University of Illinois College Urbana-Champaign

“A family tradition is the thread that binds one generation to the next,” said Cheri Burcham, University of Illinois Extension family-life educator.

Family rituals build commitment and loyalty between family members and contribute to time spent together, appreciation and respect for each other, communication, spiritual and family values, and coping skills. They make family members feel that they belong to each other, she said.

“Traditions aren’t usually written down anywhere. Family members just know that certain things are done in certain ways,” said Burcham.

She added that such rituals have value for all ages. “Older adults see traditions as rituals to be passed down through the generations. The younger generation uses traditions to learn the importance of history and the relationships within the family. Traditions can also help children to become familiar with family members who live far away or are no longer with them,” she said.

Our daily routines contain rituals or traditions, said Burcham. Examples are saying prayers together, putting notes in lunchboxes, performing particular chores, and singing certain songs. Even words or expressions, such as “If it was a snake, it would have bitten you” or “Give me that thingamajig” that your family uses regularly, are family traditions.

Burcham said that two currently popular ways of creating family tradition include developing a family Web site and compiling scrapbooks for family members. Others include recording stories on audio or videotape, making gifts of family treasures along with the stories behind them, and keeping a journal and sharing entries with family members, she said.

For more information on family traditions, contact your local University of Illinois Extension office.

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