Honoring Generational Traditions
And Creating Our Own
As traditions are repeated and passed down year after year, they can begin to sound stuffy like something your parents would make you do (like wearing all matching plaid PJs…with LOTS of photo evidence for future blackmail, of course.) However as good, bad, and unphotogenic as they may be, traditions can become little wrapped up presents of the past connecting you to the people or memories you love most.
While traditions can be celebrated any time of year, they become especially prominent during the holiday season. Religions and Hallmark set up traditions for many, but for those looking to create their own with personal meaning it can be hard to know where to start.
As creatures of habit, we can be comforted in the repetition of traditions. Having something to look forward to and plan towards offers a combined sense of calm and excitement.
Traditions can be as personal or community-based as you’d like—if it’s just that on the first day of December you make a peppermint mocha or if your friends hold an annual Cheese-mas party (you heard that right, all cheese potluck + ugly sweaters.) When times are good, the more the merrier, but some holiday seasons can be tougher than others, like when you move across the country and can’t make it home, having set up micro or macro traditions can bring some pumpkin spiced-up joy into the cold winter days.
No shame in the game of trying out a new tradition for a little while, and maybe it works for a while then fades out, and others may surprisingly last a lifetime. Fortunately for my family, one of those lifelong traditions are banging pots and pans around the street every New Year’s Eve (and unfortunately for our neighbors—sorry Jenny).
Traditions have the power to make you feel like a kid again, like sitting around the kitchen eating leftover mashed potatoes with my sister after the rest of the family goes home on Thanksgiving. (Also shoutout to Ross’s favorite moist-maker sandwich Monica makes yearly for him.) Bringing little or big traditions into your life can sprinkle your holiday season with a sense of purpose and fun.
How To Create Your Own Traditions
The secret of traditions is that they hold so much more value than the actual act of the event. Sometimes you can stumble into your own traditions or actively create your own. Traditions develop over time, some you might not even realize are traditions until you look back. We have compiled some tips on how to start some memories in the making.
While setting out to create your own traditions, keeping it personal is key. Here are some things to consider before getting started:
Expand the things you already do
If it’s something as small as always making apple pie for Thanksgiving, that can transition into going apple picking as a family to harvest your own apples. Expanding little things you already love can be a great starting point when learning to actively create your own traditions.
Decide who will be involved
Who will be involved? Your family? Friends? Just you? Family is an obvious focus for the holidays, and many times comes with built in traditions. If you are feeling fulfilled in that area, focus on starting traditions in other sectors of your life. Being with work friends all wearing green and watching The Grinch annually or taking some time for yourself yearly during the hectic holiday season to taste test all the holiday ice cream flavors at Baskin Robbins both work. Thinking consciously about who will be involved can help give you an outline before starting.
Create a repeat notification in your calendar
I am queen of setting far off iCalendar notifications. It started with my high school friends making what we call “long term bets” on things like who will be the first to get married (I have Taylor for September 2019) or if anyone will still have bangs in 2020. But it can be so useful for setting not only immediately upcoming reminders, but also far off ones for creating traditions. Marking a start planning date as well as the date of the activity can help you plan on a schedule that works for you. Even get crazy and sync calendars with others involved so everyone is reminded without feeling nagged.
Divide and conquer the planning
Taking on planning an annual event can be fun for some, but the holidays are also notoriously hectic in nature. Enlist backup for some of your traditions. By sharing accountability for traditions, more people are invested in its success. For more intensive traditions, try creating a list of what needs to get done and letting your family or friends pick the areas they would be happy to contribute to. Rather than you planning all of your New Year's Eve getaway, figure out who wants to be in charge or booking the Airbnb, making the drinks, and organizing the theme.
Set intentions for your traditions
Setting intentions doesn’t have to be stressful, it can be as simple as everyone just having a fun time together. But give yourself a moment to think about what on a deeper level you want to accomplish by creating this tradition. An everlasting memory for your kids? Reuniting friends who rarely see each other? Finding a calm moment for yourself to write down your goals for the new year? Whatever it is, taking at least a few minutes to reflect can bring a fuller life to your traditions.
Trial and error makes them meaningful
They should be fun and meaningful; if they’re not, don’t sweat it—on to the next one! Sometimes you just have to call it. If a tradition has become something you are dreading or doesn’t seem to fit into your life anymore, it’s okay. Not all traditions last forever. My aunt and uncle used to find fresh crab for Christmas Eve for years and years, but now one of their daughters is a vegetarian and crab season isn’t what it used to be. Things change, and now they make tacos. It’s okay to bend or cancel them as time goes on, you will create new ones that work for you.
Get out there and make some memories to last a lifetime!
Sarah Spoljaric is a California girl through and through. She has a BA in World History from one of the top 10 greenest campuses in the world; The University of California, Merced and is a Content Curator for the visual travel app Trepic. She has a background in museum curating, loves reading women’s travel journals and is in search of the perfect IPA. She’s passionate about exploring this beautiful world that ethically-produced goods help to protect. Say hi on Instagram!