Upholding tradition is a universal need. Throughout history, amidst wars and pivotal battles, amongst family feuds and tragic losses – tradition remains. It’s a prevalent part of not only society, but your life, as well.
You may not feel tied to a specific tradition. Perhaps you feel indifferent when your spouse brings out the Christmas tree and décor each December. But the meaning of tradition matters more than some ideology you claim to not believe in. And the effect it has on your growth? Well, it’s far more significant than you may care to admit.
What if you took a camera and visited random families across the globe throughout the holiday season? Consider the differences you would encounter. Think about the unique traditions you might behold.
A family of four lights the next day’s candle during Hanukah.
Festive families with 5 children prep cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve.
A large family attends a Karamu Ya Imani – the Kwanzaa feast of December 31st.
The winter season is filled with multiple holidays. Each celebration is a joyous occasion, a happy event chock-full of traditions upheld in different ways.
Disregard the differences between you and your neighbor’s ideal holiday season. Consider Christmas, a holiday celebrated with a multitude of diverse traditions across the globe! The Russians celebrate this special day on January 7th. In Finland, the natives make it a point to sauna on Christmas day.
You may not partake in your peer’s Christmas festivities. But tradition remains a significant aspect of the holiday season.
Ultimately, kindness is craved more than anything at this time of year. Your beliefs may not align with another’s. Your faith may differ from that of your friend, coworker, or client. But there is one thing we can all agree on – the significance of kindness.
The gifts of optimism and compassion are coveted by all. The holiday season brings out that desire in full-force. Folks hope that somehow, all will be forgiven. They hold tight to the belief that kindness will somehow balance out the bad.
Tradition Influences Your Growth
The holidays bring people together. Where you live, what you celebrate, who you celebrate with – these things matter. But this time of year brings out mutual peace. It enforces a universal acknowledgment of harmony.
Tradition helps maintain the notion that during this season, differences can be set aside. It reminds you to reserve your judgments for another day.
You may find your coworker’s attitude destructive. Your peer’s incessant need to discuss her upcoming vacation may irritate you. It isn’t always easy to get along with others. But this time of year and the traditions you partake in help you remember just how significant compassion truly is.
Tradition Keeps You in Tune with Your Humanity
Consider the Christmas Truce of WWI. On Christmas morning of 1914, both sides agreed to stop fighting, if only for a day. The hostility between the British and the Germans halted. Joint burial services were held for the dead. Goods were traded, carols were sung, dinner was had, and gifts were exchanged (Robert M. Sapolsky).
The Truce, like all great things at wartime, didn’t last long. But the effect remained.
This incident proves the depth of tradition. It proves the universal bond of humanity. It shows that at the end of it all, in the midst of a bloody war fueled by powerful, substantial countries, there was a stronger force at play. There was something hiding within the souls of those soldiers that provoked a truce. Something that sparked the notion, “Live and let live!” (Robert M. Sapolsky).
Did it all fall on the influence of tradition? Perhaps not. But tradition did play a role in the way the ceasefire was handled and carried out. It wasn’t merely based on pure kindness, it was based on the effect the holidays have on us all.
The Magic of Tradition
Tradition keeps the magic alive. In the darkest of hours, when you’re broken, lost, or filled with contempt towards a destructive manager, tradition centers you. It helps you remember what truly matters. Beliefs like this make you feel like a kid again as you open the gifts in your stocking on December 25th. They help you remember how you felt as a child when you lit your first Hanukah candle.
Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!
– Charles Dickens
Dickens was right – it’s amazing what tradition can do for the soul. The influence it has on your persona, the potentially vital changes it may incur on your future – these are all aspects of tradition and the holidays worth remembering. And it truly does help keep the magic alive.
To the older bachelor who lost his children due to war or sickness. To the woman down the street who lost her passion for the holidays after a tragic loss. Don’t fret. Tradition has an influence unrivaled. Holiday dinners you attended as a child, gift exchanges you participated in with your friends during high-school – these are the traditions you will pass on. These are the experiences you will treasure, the soul-enriching incidents you will remember.
And it is with these traditions you will stay in tune with humanity.
Tradition: It’s Worth Celebrating
You may not believe in a specific tradition. You may not be religious or abide to a faith that outlines how you spend your life. You might feel that this time of year has blossomed into a social mess of expensive mass-production and excessive spending. You may believe that tradition is only for those who don’t have a mind of their own.
You have every right to your own opinion. You are human, after all.
But can you truly admit that this time of year, a season filled with annual traditions and cheer, has no influence on your life? Can you really walk past a child meeting Santa for the first time and not smile a little? Can you ignore your coworkers delight when he shows you a video of the joy on his child’s face during the first day of Hanukah?
Tradition, whether you admit it or not, is a part of your life. It influences you in some manner, even if you don’t knowingly participate. The feeling of togetherness, the knowledge that there is some good in the dark – these notions stay with you throughout the year.
Don’t let another darken your traditions. Make time for what matters this holiday season. Realize that in the end, kindness matters. And know that the magic of tradition will be with you for years to come.