Activities, experiences and ideas become traditions when they are passed down through generations. While some traditions can merge and influence a larger cultural basis, there are others that remain unique to a family and foster its values.
Traditions boost a sense of belonging. Entrepreneur Michael Canzian has spoken about how shared experiences strengthen the family unit. Through customs, interconnectedness and continuity can be preserved across generations.
Since children’s identities are not yet crystallized, the younger members of a family may not feel secure about their place in the world. The progression of a long-lasting tradition can give kids an idea of who they are and where they come from. When people follow a trajectory that has been passed on by their more established elders, it’s easier to have a framework to bounce off of.
Culture is the basis for values and priorities. When cultural components are lost, new generations are forced to rehash how they think and feel about their surroundings. Cultural customs not only help a family at a given moment, but they remain available to help future generations.
Storytelling has been a strong component of the family structure since the dawn of humanity. Some stories are passed down to make people laugh or provide entertainment. Other stories are told to ensure that people don’t make the same mistakes as their ancestors. Memories help a family preserve everything positive about their family history while weeding out the negative aspects. This way, a family is able to develop and improve in the long term.
When a family tree splinters over time, different subsets of the family tend to disperse. People may change locations, learn different languages, adjust their religious beliefs and so on. However, these separate factions don’t need to be complete strangers to each other. While not all traditions are likely to be upheld to the same degree by every group, there may be some contingency. Distant relatives who have never met may share the same memories about their family history, which can provide immediate bonding. Strong traditions can keep people in touch with each other no matter how much time has passed.
Traditions allow families to stay grounded as the larger society changes around them. It becomes easier to learn, adapt and heal when relatives have a stronger bond. Even if it isn’t clear where exactly a tradition came from, its deep roots give it significance.