Carried forward through the years by each new generation, old family traditions are a powerful means of strengthening the bonds that hold families together. Old family traditions often serve to connect the older generation with the new Generation, encouraging interaction through shared activities, and can also offer a way for families separated by distance to feel close.
Many of the most meaningful old family traditions revolve around food, with families gathering to eat and celebrate together. Often the foods served at the meal are determined by tradition, with recipes passed down from generation to generation or specific family members preparing their specialties year after year.
That food should serve as a centerpiece for so many of the old family traditions that are passed to the new generation comes as no surprise. Food is essential to survival, and being grateful for the success of its production, whether through agriculture or the hunt, is at the base of not only many old family traditions, but also many of the world’s ancient religions.
Celebrating the abundance of the harvest is done throughout the world, with each culture giving rise to a particular set of old family traditions. However, as different as these cultures may be, the foundation of these celebrations is the gathering together of families to feast, to share food, to break bread.
There are many old family traditions designed specifically to celebrate the new generation. Some are as lighthearted and fun as the yearly birthday gathering for cake, ice cream and gifts. Others are built upon meaningful, often symbolic, rituals marking the milestones along the path to maturity. In each, it is the older generation celebrating the progress of the new generation, as one day that generation will do for its own children.
Even when families cannot gather together, which is increasingly common today as families find their members scattered throughout the nation and even the world, old family traditions can help to maintain family ties. Knowing that thousands of miles away, other family members are engaged in the same activities can help keep that feeling of closeness among family members.
Often the new generation uses old family traditions to honor those who have passed before them. Many children learn the history of their families in this way, listening as family members share memories of those who are no longer with them and of their own childhood remembrances. Sometimes it is the old family traditions that hold a family together, the adult siblings continuing to gather with their children after their parents have died.
Participating in the old family traditions builds memories that will last a lifetime, and serves to build relationships, not only between the old and new generations, but also amongst those that will be continuing the families as the elder members pass away. Teaching the new generation to honor old family traditions can help to preserve the family through the years, even through the times when its members cannot gather together, fostering a sense of belonging that will be a source of joy for years to come.