Since the birth of my son, I’ve been thinking more about the value of family traditions. Not only are traditions fun (for kids and adults alike!), they bring families closer together, create a collective sense of identity, give us something to look forward to, and help make lasting memories.
Traditions can also be a fantastic learning opportunity. If, for example, we are celebrating a historical figure or event, together as a family we can learn about them and celebrate their significance.
Below is a list of some of the traditions that I would like to start (or continue) with our family. Some ideas are more traditional, and some are a little unconventional (hey – we have to be true to our nerdiness!). I’m actually hoping that as the years go on, this list gets a little more wacky.
Halloween (October 31) – Our neighborhood has the cutest Halloween kids’ parade! My aunt and uncle also host an annual Pumpkin Party with pancakes, homemade chili, pumpkin carving, hay rides, cozy fires, and an endless amount of activities for the kids.
Back to the Future Night (November 5) – There’s no denying the awesomeness of the Back to the Future trilogy, so why not make it into an annual movie-watching marathon? Our son will be saying “Whoa, this is heavy” in no time.
Thanksgiving (November) – About three years ago, my mom and I took a vegetarian Thanksgiving cooking class. All of the food we learned to make was vegan and gluten-free and it was amazing! Every year since taking that class, we have recreated the menu. I’ve also been thinking about making a “Thankful Journal” – a blank journal where each family member writes down what they’re thankful for that year, and then adds more to it each year after.
Mid-Winter Party (December 21/22 or June 21/22, depending on which hemisphere you’re in) – The Mid-Winter party is a tradition in my husband’s family from New Zealand. Each year on the winter solstice, my in-laws host a party with homemade pizza (my father-in-law’s recipe), hot cross buns, and an intense hike (no matter the weather!).
Christmas Eve (December 24) – Each year on Christmas Eve, my family cooks a traditional meal from a different country. Last year we had Peruvian food, and the year before that was Spanish food. The kids in the family also receive new pajamas and put them on before we read “Twas The Night Before Christmas (well, at least we used to do this before all the “kids” grew up!). I recently read about an idea for a “Santa’s Toy Swap” – along with cookies and milk, kids leave toys they have outgrown under the Christmas tree for Santa to take and then give to other kids.
Christmas Day (December 25) – After exchanging gifts, my family makes a tasty breakfast that always includes Dutch babies. Then we hang out in pajamas all day and take multiple naps. It’s glorious.
New Year’s Eve (December 31) – I want to start the tradition of New Year’s Family Fondue Night! I love reflecting on the past, so it would also be fun to share some of our achievements and happy memories from the year.
New Year’s Day (January 1) – Doughnuts! While the rest of the world starts the year off “right” with health food, you can find my family stuffing our faces withVoodoo. I love making lists (can you tell?), so it would also be fun to write down goals (individual and family) for the coming year. My husband will hate this idea. Too bad!
Darwin Day (February 12) – On Charles Darwin’s birthday, we can learn more about his life and contributions to science. We can also read passages from his writings and watch movies and documentaries about him.
George Harrison’s Birthday (February 25) – We can listen to the music of my favorite Beatle all day and watch this HBO documentary about his life.
St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) – What kid wouldn’t get excited about green pancakes and Lucky Charms for breakfast? After breakfast could be a rainbow-themed scavenger hunt that leads little leprechauns to a pot of “gold.”
Easter (April) – Traditional Easter egg hunt and egg-dying crafts.
Star Wars Day (May 4) – May the fourth be with you! A great excuse to watch Star Wars (the original trilogy, of course!).
Last Day of School Party (June) – When our son gets a little bit older, it would be fun to let him have some friends over on the last day of school. Do you remember how exciting that day was as a kid?
Fourth of July – I just bought a vintage Shasta trailer and cannot wait to go on annual family glamping trips!
Freddie Mercury Night (September 5) – I’ve been thinking about turning this party idea into an annual family tradition.
John Lennon’s Birthday (October 9) – Playlist: All John, all day.
Birthdays – My family usually goes out to dinner to celebrate birthdays, but I would also love to start the tradition of making a special breakfast for the birthday boy or girl. This year on my son’s birthday, I started the tradition of writing him a birthday letter. I hope to do this every year and give the letters to him when he’s older. (That thought just made me cry a little.)
Pizza Fridays – When I was a kid, we went out to pizza almost every Friday with our good family friends. I want to continue this tradition, but maybe with Thai food (Thaiday Fridays?) or another type of food. Or pizza… everyone loves pizza!
Volunteering as a Family – Not just on holidays, but throughout the year. I would love to make volunteering together at local nonprofits something that we do on a regular basis.
Theme Parties – Hannah has explained why theme parties make your life more awesome. Her family knows how to take their fun seriously!
The thought of starting new traditions as a family is so exciting and heartwarming to me. I imagine 10 years from now waking up on November 5th to our son yelling “It’s Back to the Future Day! It’s Back to the Future Day!” If, for some unforeseen reason, he doesn’t like Back to the Future (God forbid!), then we will have some tradition-tweaking to do. But that’s totally ok; I’m sure that as our son gets older and more opinionated, the above list of traditions will evolve and grow. I can’t wait to see what our weird little family comes up with!
What are your favorite family traditions? What are traditions that you’d like to start?