What Are Traditions and Are They Worth Sharing?

Have you ever wondered why your family makes the same foods every Christmas Eve or why we sing “Happy Birthday” on our birthdays? These little practices often form some of our fondest memories as we get older, but what are traditions, and are they worth sharing?

What Are Traditions?

Many people have traditions that are passed down from generation to generation. While we often use the terms “culture” and “tradition” interchangeably, these terms actually have two different meanings.

A tradition may be defined as an individual event, practice, idea, or belief that is passed down from generation to generation. Traditions are considered guidelines rather than rules and often differ from family to family or among groups of friends.

For example, a tradition might be that an Italian-American family eats lasagna as part of the Thanksgiving meal to honor their Italian heritage. A group of friends might gather the weekend before Christmas every year in order to exchange gifts prior to the holiday.

Family traditions often revolve around specific behaviors or practices during the holidays, such as the preparation of a certain type of dessert, but they may also be completely independent of holidays. By contrast, culture describes the shared characteristics, thoughts, and behaviors embraced by a larger group of people, such as those from the same country or those ascribed to the same religious beliefs.

Culture builds throughout time and may represent more abstract values, such as the importance of respect for the elderly in Japanese culture or the emphasis on education in the Jewish faith.

Culture is often made up of a number of different traditions; for example, setting off fireworks on the Fourth of July is part of American culture.

Are Traditions Worth Sharing?

Traditions are built by sharing customs and beliefs across generational lines. In fact, many people take the traditions from their childhood and pass them down to their children.

That’s not to say all traditions are worth sharing; for example, you may have hated spending Mother’s Day each year going out to brunch. If that’s the case, there’s no reason to spend the rest of your life participating in a tradition you don’t enjoy. Instead, you can choose to make new traditions with your family, such as making a delicious new family recipe.

The Bottom Line

A tradition may be defined as an individual event, practice, idea, or belief that is passed down from generation to generation. People may share traditions within their family, different groups of friends, or their broader religious group or nationality.

There are lots of fun ways to incorporate traditions into your own life and share them with the people around you, such as whipping up a delicious summer beverage every year to celebrate the Fourth of July.

There’s no right or wrong way to share traditions as long as you’re doing something fun or meaningful with those you love!