Sometimes it’s hard to commit to old family traditions or create new ones when mama’s life is already so busy, right? I understand completely, trust me.
But then I realized why they’re so important and how much my son would miss not having to count on those traditions and I decided that there are actually many good reasons to make it happen.
And I’m going to share with you the ones that I believe are the 5 most important reasons to pass on or create your own family traditions.
Think about Christmas holidays for example. The first thing every parent wants is to make sure their kids will preserve incredible memories, right? But do you really think that gifts are the only thing that create the magic atmosphere around this holiday?
I truly do not believe so!
Instead, I believe that one of the things that kids anticipate with excitement is the moment when they can experience their family traditions, whichever they might be. It’s knowing that, in this particular time of the year, everything spins around them and that there will be unforgettable times such as
- choosing the Christmas tree
- decorating with background music
- a good Christmas movie
- hot chocolate everywhere
- dyi projects
- magical stories
- downtown Christmas parades
- And let’s not forget the letter to Santa Claus and the anticipation about the gifts also play a good part for sure.
Family traditions though are important in many ways that are not just related to Christmas or other big holidays.
You can create your own family traditions that are unique and transform an ordinary day into a very special one.
Why it’s so important to create your own family traditions
I’ll never get tired to say that there are many reasons why they’re important but let me tell you why they became even more essentials since I moved abroad.
If this is the very first article you happen to read on my blog, you must know that I was born and raised in Milan, Italy, and that I moved to the US in 2015.
Why is this important?
Well, if you’re an expat mama too, you already know what it means to live in a new Country trying to keep your roots and origin at the same time.
Even though family traditions are valuable to many people, when you’re an expat mama they acquire more significance.
When you live in a place that has traditions different from yours and your kids live far from their grandparents and uncles/aunts, it’s a necessary way to pass your culture and customs on to your kids.
So let’s dive into the deep reasons why every family, regardless of where they comes from, should establish their own family traditions.
5 Reasons to pass your family traditions on to your kids
- Stability. Children are always in search of repetitiveness and stability. The anticipation and expectation of an event that they already lived and appreciated makes them feel safe and loved. If such event is also very special and unique of your own family, it’s even better. It makes them feel like they belong, that they’re part of something great. Besides, it also helps creating attachment to their family and healthy habits (yes, even when, once a year, they eat their own weight in cookies).
- Anticipation. As mentioned above, all big events create expectation which are not tied to material things such as food or gifts, but to the moments spent together. So if your child expects to make cookies for Christmas or to egg hunt on Easter, she’ll also anticipate dearly the moment in which she can go camping the first day of summer, or go pick up chestnuts in October, or simply a Sunday lunch when everyone of the family stay together and cook (throwing random examples).
- Big value to small things. It’s not necessary for family traditions to be major events. It could be a home made lasagna once a month with some good music in the background or a soccer game in the backyard during the first big summer rainfalls, where you get muddy up to your ears. Still randomly guessing here, but the main idea is that the key factor is not what you do, but the time spent together with joy.
- Happy memories. Kids grow so fast. When they keep you awake for endless nights it might not seem like that, but the reality is that one day you wake up and they’re taller than the dining table. Then taller than you and eventually leave the house. Among all the things they’ll bring with them, you’ll find the happy memories of the time spend with their family. Creating your family traditions will allow you to give them the opportunity to remember how fun and memorable their childhood was.
- Inheritance. What’s more valuable for a grandparent (yes, I’m talking about you) rather than knowing that their kids loved so deeply their family traditions to desire to pass them on to their own little ones? Creating a special atmosphere is irreplaceable. If you give the right importance to it, not only they’ll anticipate it with excitement, but they’ll want to relive it through their children’s eyes.
As an Expat there’s even a greater mean to it
When you live far from your family of origin and you have children, you often wonder how you’ll be able to pass on those same values that you received.
You also have to put into account that your new family is half made by you and the other half by someone who most likely had family traditions different from yours.
And clearly both have equal importance, right?
For instance, my husband is American while I’m Italian (as mentioned already) and our son is a very proud Half-blood (yes I love Harry Potter! ;)) In Italy we have the Befana (I’ll explain later) while here in the US nobody knows what the heck that is. Instead here it’s Santa Claus who brings all the gifts and sweets. Slightly sexist, right? (Just kidding!).
Interesting fact: While we still have Santa Claus on the 25th of December we also have La Befana, who is a sweet old lady-witch flying on her broom the night between the 5th and 6th of January and bringing you candies, occasionally some small extra gifts or black coal if you didn’t behave. That’s why Italian Christmas holidays end on the 7th of January.
On the same line, American people don’t party on the 15th of August what we call Ferragosto (mid-holiday feast) or the San Lorenzo night (the 10th of August called also “The night of the Shooting stars” because every year is the night when most of the shooting stars are visible in the sky).
In short, we as family had to find our own way make sure both traditions and customs are passed down to our little monster.
That’s exactly why, when you’re an Expat, your desire to share the meaning of those traditions you cherish becomes almost a felt need. The ones that your own parents gave you and you don’t want them to get lost in such a new everyday life. Those habits you think are valuable and you want your kids to fully enjoy them.
What if I don’t have family traditions to pass on?
The answer is very simple: create new ones!
In our family we didn’t have big family traditions outside the major holidays. There was the tooth fairy exchanging money for baby teeth, the big Easter chocolate egg to open for a surprise, the tree decorating and gifts to open on Christmas, candies (or sweet coal) to chew on the Epifania day (See Befana above) and the costume to wear during Carnival for the masquerade.
In short, all the classics.
Which are wonderful, but it wasn’t really our own family tradition.
And then we started going every year to the same place during summer vacation. Let me tell you that the anticipation of going to that small slice of paradise made of beach and rocks was just amazing.
I still clearly remember the deep disappointment when, for the first time in years, my mother decided to change destination.
So if you too come from a family that doesn’t really have specific family traditions to pass on, then have fun creating a new one (or ones) and that is completely yours!
Therefore, in addition to the big holidays, you’ll have your personal special day, one that only you know and understand the importance of.
So what are you waiting for?
Go and establish your family traditions. Whether it’s the jelly day or a book reading afternoon in front of the fire (Harry Potter is a good one btw 😉 ) with a hot drink, or a go sailing, make sure it’s unforgettable, take lots of pictures and always bring those memories with you.
Because once your kids are grown, this will be a huge part of your inheritance. And the values you’re gifting them of is priceless.
P.S. = if you liked this article, don’t forget to share it 😉