Family Traditions: Do You Have Any?

Chicken pie instead of the traditional turkey for Thanksgiving. Black forest birthday cake every year. Saturday family dinner out. Ice cream on Sunday afternoons. Those were the answers of friends when asked, “What’s your family tradition?” I have a confession: when asked the same question, sadly, I came up with nothing.

Not a thing.

My little family of four, is relatively new. We’ve been married just nearly six years and our sons are three and a half and 15 months old. Most couples go into a relationship carrying traditions from their respective families – be it decorating the Christmas tree a week before the actual date; opening presents the night before; collecting personal ornaments, each with a story; celebrating birthdays with an experience and no cake; pizza night every Friday and game night every Saturday.

We came into our marriage empty handed, as far as traditions went. Our families were not big on celebrating occasions, especially birthdays and anniversaries, so we ended up being the same. I do however, feel that family traditions are important.

Why are traditions important?
Traditions help create memories. Traditions help impart our life values to our children. Traditions help give children a sense of identity. Traditions help create a sense of belonging. Traditions offer a sense of security.

I believe we have a wonderful opportunity to create new traditions with our children.

Fun times ahead
Fun game nights every Friday. Swimming every Saturday with Papa. Home cooked weekend breakfasts of eggs and French toast. Hot chocolate on Sunday nights, to ease the children into a new school week. Library trips every week to pick a new book out. Nightly ritual of story time and bedtime cuddles.

Sitting at the table every night as a family for dinner and exchanging our daily stories. Baking cookies every end of the month together, just the boys and I, purely because we can. Hiking as a family every so often. Scrapbooking every birthday to remember the year that passed. Annual trips to a beach to build sandcastles and laze in the sun.

I want my children to grow up with fond memories of doing things with their parents, be it on special occasions, or just something we did as a family. I want them to grow up with a strong sense of who they are, who their parents are, what we believe in. I want my sons to grow up with joy, and the desire to carry on these family traditions, and pass them on to their own families when the time comes.

Most of all, I want my children to know that their parents love them, and did their best to create a home that was safe, sound, joyful and wondrous.

Do you have family traditions? How do you feel about them and what are they?

Published on: August 29, 2013
About the Author
Photo of Alison Lee

Alison traded in launch parties, product launches, international press junkets and world travel, for sippy cups and diapers, breastfeeding and potty training. Alison has been actively over-sharing stories of motherhood on her blog, Writing, Wishing since 2011.

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Recent Comments

This post was so inspiring to me. It makes me want to beef up some of our traditions and really surround our children with them.

I’m glad it’s inspired you, Jennie!

We have several traditions in our family. Like you say, some of them we brought with us from my husband and my childhoods, some are our own. Things like sweet cereal on Christmas morning, summer camping trips, family movie nights and family suppers at the table are things that we all enjoy.

Sounds awesome, Kim!

Alison, I just love your heart for your family. Your future traditions sound wonderful!

Thank you, Adrienne!

I like the idea of everyday family traditions instead of BIG CELEBRATIONS!!!!! at every holiday or birthday or anniversary of the first time on the potty. The little everyday things you repeat over and over again are the things that make up a life, and the things that kids will remember.

My dad used to drive us around to his various work sites on Sundays. They were always in the country, always muddy, and are always remembered with a smile.

Everyday traditions are much easier to do and keep, I figure. So glad you have good memories with your Dad!

Family dinner at the table is one of my favorites. It really chills out the girls and lets them realize that they’re the best part of our days…

I love sitting down as a family for dinner.

I wish I had thought of this one sooner but I started when Christopher was four. Every year we buy one of the Hallmark ornaments for the tree because they have the year on it somewhere. So we’ve got four of them now and it is nice to look at them each year. That year that he was four a lady in the Hallmark store (customer) suggested it. She said she had done it for each of her children and when they grew up and left home for good she gave them a shoebox full of their ornaments for their own tree.

I love that, Kenya!

We have traditions too! A lot of them are American, Chinese, Catholic, and African American. We just mix it up in here.

That definitely makes for an interesting childhood. Lucky kids!

I came into my marriages with a few old family traditions that I cherished, but I love even more making them for our own family. Pumpkin patch visits before Halloween, putting up Christmas lights on Thanksgiving.

Sounds awesomely special, Greta.

Thanks for writing this post and thank you for considering what family traditions you want to have as a new family. We have tons — waking the birthday boy, girl or parent with a song that the group creates (new lyrics for a tune everyone knows), presents under the tree wrapped in each childs’ favorite childhood color (even though their favorite colors have changed over the years), Easter Egg scavenger hunt, Halloween play (we’re “that house” in our neighborhood and every year we do something different to entertain the kids before giving them their candy) 12th birthday hiking trip with dad (who answers “hard questions” about adulthood), 18th birthday event.

Some of our traditions were accidents. Dad took the oldest on an overnight hike when he turned 12, so the next child was expecting the same. It just felt right to create a big event for the oldest’s 18th and so it started. Others we thought about and created, like our Halloween House (we done everything from an alien invasion to a haunted camp ground, to a spoof of Spamalot, to Sherlock Holmes murder mystery, to 007 casino).

Here’s a tip — don’t start something (and set up expectations for your kids) that you can’t keep up. Some things you can make clear are just a one-time event like a special vacation. Others are worth the investment. But be clear, there will be planning, work, and often expense keeping up traditions. Our kids, now all grown up, talk about the crazy things we’ve done together over the years. Even their friends talk about our family traditions.

If I had it to do all over again, there’s one tradition I wouldn’t have let slip — Easter Egg Baseball….


Cheryl, thank you for sharing your family traditions! You’re right, we definitely want to commit to ones we can do week after week, year after year.

We have family traditions! Here are my two favourite ones:
we’ve been going camping with our motorhome for three camping seasons now. Right from the start it’s been a tradition that my husband does all the dishes and the cooking (except after the first night, when I always make a breakfast of pancakes and bacon and eggs). That’s a tradition *I* like very much :)
A true family tradition we have is that we celebrate the day we immigrated to Canada. Of course we needed a name for it, but since Canada Day already exists, my son came up with Canada Eve. So every year on January 29th we celebrate Canada Eve.

I like the husband-doing-dishes-and-cooking tradition! And I think it’s so special that you celebrate January 29.

We have tons and most are Jewish traditions– Shabbat dinner every Friday night. Saturdays reserved for Shabbat (no TV or iPads, etc). There are tons! It is the structure for our whole family.

It does give great structure to family life. Love it.

It’s hard to have “family traditions” when your kids are little, as traditions take time to cultivate. When we first blended our family I was discouraged because we did not have one tradition and I happen to love traditions. I felt like we would never “get there”. Five+ years later….we have a ton. Some big, some small. Some I “forced”, some we naturally fell into. Certain desserts at certain times, vacation destinations, candy posters for bdays, weekly family nights, movie nights (with certain foods and blankets and sitting spots), pajama car rides to see Christmas lights, photobook giving and love notes at Valentine’s….we have a ton now! When people ask me for advice about blending a family and the “secret to it” (there is none, really) – my answer? Create your own traditions. It works. It bonds. It has you looking forward to so many things. But, it takes time and consistency, so you can’t give up!

That’s terrific, Leah! Really good advice for blended families. Love it!