The Importance of Family Traditions

If you think of your favorite memories as a child, how many of them are tied to family traditions? Traditions have been in place since Bible times and are often passed down from generation to generation. Others are new traditions that you may want to start for your family. There are many kinds of traditions, so let’s explore the importance of family traditions and why you may want to put some thought into which ones you establish for your family.

Why are Traditions Important?

So, why are traditions all that important? What is a tradition anyway? Traditions are anything that you do over and over again. It can be a daily tradition such as devotional time before bed, a weekly tradition such as a big Saturday breakfast, or a yearly trip or holiday tradition. Traditions give a sense of family identity and also make you feel a sense of belonging.

How do traditions strengthen families?

Traditions will help strengthen your family by building stronger connections and unity. Face to face interactions and quality time spent together will build those family bonds. Traditions also can connect generations as they’re passed down from one generation to the next.

Benefits of family traditions

Let’s look at some other benefits of family traditions besides strengthening your family. For instance,

  • Traditions give you something to look forward to. It’s definitely exciting to look forward to the yearly summer vacation or even Saturday movie night.
  • Traditions can be a constant in the chaos of life, especially during the difficult seasons. If you have to move to a new town, you can still count on certain rhythms that traditions bring to life.
  • Traditions can build lasting memories. That annual trip or Christmas cookie decorating can make for fun and lasting memories to share over the years as well as reminisce over as an adult.
  • Traditions are a great way to impart and reinforce values. They help you focus on what is important to your family culture or about a holiday.
  • Traditions can help make different holidays special. Not everyone does the same thing for holidays, so traditions can set your family apart from others by what you do…or don’t do.

Creating New Traditions

Are you looking to start some new traditions in your family? Maybe you just want to re-evaluate the traditions you already have. Merging two families in marriage can provide an opportunity to assess what traditions from each family you want to incorporate into your new family and give you an opportunity to start new ones. However, there are several things you want to keep in mind as you work with your spouse to create new traditions.

  • Find purpose in your traditions and make sure they fit your family. Why do you want to incorporate the tradition you’re thinking of? What purpose will it serve? Will it reinforce your values?
  • Remember traditions can have seasons. What you start out doing with your children when they’re young does not necessarily mean you will do that when they are teenagers. Busy seasons of life may mean cutting back on certain activities. You may realize that you want to serve more as part of a holiday tradition. Traditions aren’t set in stone.
  • Choose quality over quantity. Take the time to really evaluate your values and make sure your traditions go with them. Having traditions for everything isn’t necessary. Make sure you have quality traditions that will enhance your family’s values.
  • Create new traditions that point your family to God, not self. Are you doing things just to make yourself look good as a parent? Do you do it because society says that’s what “everyone” does? Will the tradition build your family relationships?
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Family Tradition Ideas

What are some examples of family traditions? You may be wondering how you can make your holiday special or add a special monthly activity. Here are some ideas of non-holiday family traditions and several different holiday traditions that you could incorporate or just use them as a springboard to go with your own ideas.

Non-holiday family traditions

Non-holiday traditions can include daily, weekly, monthly, or seasonal tradition ideas.

  • Daily traditions or rituals. Ideas of daily traditions could be morning or evening family devotions, evening read-aloud time, or a special nighttime tuck-in of each child.
  • Weekly traditions. Saturday brunch, themed dinners such as Taco Tuesday, Sunday service, or Friday afternoon tea are examples of weekly traditions that you could incorporate within your family.
  • Monthly traditions. Monthly traditions could include a family service project, a bigger weekend activity, or an international-themed meal as you pray for that country.
  • Seasonal traditions. Each season is a fabulous opportunity to plan a special event for your family. It could be a simple summer camping trip or lake day, or a big week-long ski trip. Maybe it’s spring cleaning with donations of things you no longer need. Find something your family enjoys doing together, but isn’t something you can do often.

Easter family traditions

Easter is such a meaningful holiday as a follower of Jesus-the resurrection of our Lord! As such, we should incorporate traditions that keep the focus on that. A few ideas are reading an Easter devotion leading up to Easter, reading children’s books that focus on the true meaning of Easter, making resurrection rolls with your children, and of course going to Easter services.

Thanksgiving family traditions

Thanksgiving is a time of celebrating all we have to be thankful for. It is also a great time to reach out to help those who are not as fortunate. Helping serve a Thanksgiving meal or collecting canned goods could be a great family tradition to reinforce the values of giving. Maybe there is a new family in the neighborhood you could invite for dinner. Take time at your meal to talk about things you are thankful for or pass around a gratitude journal each year for each person to add to. In a few years you would have a great journal of memories! Perhaps you’d like to start a gratitude jar at the beginning of the year and read what’s in it after your meal on Thanksgiving, or you could play a family game after dinner.

What does the Bible say about the role of a mother? To learn more about being a godly mother, check out these 10 characteristics of a good mother according to the Bible.

Christmas family traditions

Christmas is such a long and drawn-out holiday, so there’s plenty of opportunity for traditions. However, you don’t want to make yourself so busy that you’re too stressed to enjoy it. Maybe you will want to pick a few favorite traditions that your family will do each Christmas season in order to keep Christmas simple. Don’t overwhelm yourself since just daily life keeps you busy enough! Christmas is also a great time to focus on traditions that bring meaning to why we celebrate.

Simple Christmas family traditions

Even if you’re looking to simplify your Christmas, you can still incorporate some great family traditions. This is a great list of simple Christmas family traditions. Many of these also help keep the Christ in Christmas.

  • Bake Christmas cookies. You may choose to make two or three kinds each year or go all out and bake a dozen kinds. It will depend on the year and how much help your little ones can be. While you’re at it, maybe you’d like to take a cookie plate to your neighbors and spread some Christmas cheer.
  • Do a simple advent calendar or devotional with your kids. We have this simple felt advent calendar that we’ve been using for years. Even my older children still enjoy it! They take turns each day, and we try to rotate who starts so that the same person isn’t always getting to put up baby Jesus! We also have been incorporating an Advent devotional each day.
  • Decorate with a Nativity. If you have one that has a separate baby Jesus, you may choose to add him Christmas day. I have the Willow Tree Nativity and the baby Jesus is attached, however, you may have a different one.
  • Attend a Christmas Eve service. If your church doesn’t have one, maybe find one that does or have your own service at home.
  • Pray for those who send you Christmas cards. Maybe each day or each week during December, take the new cards you’ve received and take the time to pray for that family.
  • Read the Christmas story before opening gifts. We do this every year. You may want to read the Christmas story from Luke 2 or another Gospel or read it from all of them as my husband does.
  • Watch a Christmas movie, and don’t forget the popcorn and hot chocolate! This, for instance, is a simple thing to fit in during the Christmas season.
  • Open Christmas stockings on Christmas Eve. This is something my family always did when I was growing up, and we have incorporated it into our family now.
  • Give each child 3 gifts like the 3 gifts the wise men gave Jesus, or maybe you want to incorporate 4 gifts: “Something you want, something you need. Something you wear, something you read.”

Bigger Christmas family tradition ideas

You may choose to incorporate a couple small and a larger Christmas tradition or two. Here are a few other ideas of Christmas family traditions.

  • Visit a Christmas light display. Maybe your town has a big display or a certain neighborhood known for its amazing lights. Either go for a drive or walk and check them out.
  • Incorporate the Jesse Tree. The Jesse tree tradition goes throughout the Christmas season leading up to Christmas. You look at different stories in Jesus’ family line that show how God was working to prepare the way for Him. There are ornaments you can print out or buy to go with the stories.
  • Have a family donation day. Everyone works together to compile things they no longer need or use. It’s a win-win. You are able to get rid of excess stuff to make room for new gifts and everyone can help.
  • Fill the Manger. I found this great idea where you work together as a family to fill a basket (manger) by doing nice things for each other. What a fabulous Christmas family tradition!

Ways to serve at Christmas as a family

Christmas shouldn’t be just a season of getting, or only giving to friends and family. I mean, whose birthday are you celebrating anyway? Before you think that you can’t give Jesus birthday presents, check out this verse.

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40 ESV

If you are giving to those in need and helping those who can’t help themselves, it’s like you’re doing it for Jesus Himself. So, what are some ways you can do that? How can you serve as a family? Many of these don’t have to be done at Christmas only, but it seems like the opportunities for giving are more plentiful then.

  • Donate a bag of non-perishable groceries through your local grocery store.
  • Go Christmas caroling at a local nursing home. Some nursing homes may have other opportunities such as playing games with the residents or donating a filled Christmas stocking.
  • Help serve a Christmas dinner at a local homeless shelter or food bank location. Food banks also give out Christmas dinner boxes to some families.
  • Buy gifts for a needy family. Many churches or community businesses will have an angel tree with the needs of local families and their children. You can select as many as you want and buy the recommended items.
  • Participate in Operation Christmas Child. We really enjoy doing this each year. You can even build a box online!

Family traditions in summary

As we’ve seen, family traditions are very important in helping to strengthen and build your family relationships and reinforce family values. We’ve covered many types of family traditions and emphasized that our traditions should be meaningful. How have you used traditions to help reinforce your family values? What are some of your favorite traditions? Please share in the comments below.

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