Every month is marked by a longstanding customary tradition that owns and defines the month. Retailers rally round and don’t miss the early opportunity to remind us to pay attention and get ready to conform to the norm of traditions defined by our society. From the beginning of January through to the end of December we are reminded when and what to do, according to traditional flare.

Just like each month is marked with a signature tradition each season also has routines of passage. Growing up in an Italian family I am no stranger to traditions. he summer was (and still is) tomato season, followed by the fall wine pressing, spring Easter bread baking and then winter salami making. Each season has its’ own focus for our family gatherings when we unite to share age-old recipes. Particular attention is spent on ensuring that the new family members are brought up to speed and catch on.  Each season was marked with family time to remember stories and literally enjoy the fruits of our labour together for months to come.

Customs develop in civilization and become ingrained until they are habits and routine. But as time passes, traditions evolve. As they are handed down through the ages, descendants add their own unique twists as they evaluate the relevance, meaning and practice of the traditions. Each generation decides how they will preserve, revamp or reinvent the family practices. However, the root of it all is to keep the family united and the customs that keep them together alive. Through shared experiences of these rituals, the fabric of the family lineage is maintained and strengthened. These rituals define our ethnicity. They can be societal norms adopted by civilizations, or specific only to our own families of origin. They become ingrained and become a way of life, teaching us the unwritten doctrines that teach us how to behave.

One of my favourite stories about traditions involves a recently married young woman who decided to make roast for the first time for her traditional family feast. Not knowing how to do this, she called and asked her mother for advice on how to go about this. Her mom proceeded to give her the instructions; cut off the ends of the roast, marinate the roast over night, put it in the roasting pan, and bake. The young woman paused to wonder and asked her mother why she needed to cut off the ends of the roast. The mom was indeed puzzled herself, she said that this was how her own mother taught her many years ago and she didn’t know the reason why. She told her daughter to call and to ask her grandmother why. The young woman spoke with her grandmother and found out that the grandmother was cutting off the ends of the roast because her pan was not big enough. The young woman proceeded to ensure that she bought a roast that would fit in her pan and enjoyed a traditional roast dinner without having to cut off the ends!!

Traditions are what connect us to our past and to our future! They are symbolic and significant activities that also need to be scrutinized, so ask your self;

Why are you following the tradition in the first place?

  • What does the tradition mean to you?
  • Do you want to keep it and repeat it?
  • How will you adapt it and incorporate it into your own family?
  • How can it shift to evolve into an even more meaningful practise?

And then decide if you will keep the old, enhance it, or mx and mingle the old with the new. Whatever you decide, embrace and enjoy it!

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