As the mom of 7 kids I’ve learned that one of the best ways to keep your kids connected is through family traditions.
When creating family traditions I always try to do the following:
Make it Easy
There is nothing worse that thinking up a tradition that takes all day and night to prepare for and that you can’t recreate the next year. I’ve learned, just keep it simple! I remember one Jewish holiday that My sister persuaded me to celebrate. It involved making an elaborate feast and then waiting until midnight. At midnight you hiked around your property three times and then honked your horn (symbolizing something important, I’m sure). Afterwards you came inside and ate the feast. The problem we ran into was that nobody wanted to eat at midnight. So they all just sat there sleepily at the feast table looking like I was torturing them. That was definitely a tradition we didn’t keep around!
Create Them Around Holidays
Many of our favorite traditions are created around holidays such as Christmas time, Easter & Valentines day. The reason I do this is because no matter what I know that my kids will never let me forget a holiday, so in a way it forces me to do the extra work required to create a memory that will last forever.
Adopt Traditions From Other Cultures or Religions
If you can’t think of your own family traditions, don’t be afraid to celebrate someone else’s! This is a list of some of my favorite traditions and how we celebrate them:
- Easter- My favorite Holiday ever is celebrated by putting up an Easter Tree, Planting an Easter Garden, Darkening the Windows on Good Friday, Passover Meal, And doing Easter devotionals the week leading up to Easter
- St. Patricks Day- The kids make leprechaun traps. But they rarely catch the leprechaun, instead he comes through the house and does silly things like put chairs on top of the table, or dyes the milk green. Of course he also leaves some treats for the kids in the traps.
- Valentines Day- When my kids wake up there is always curly ribbons hanging from the ceiling with a sweet little basket for each child and love notes from dad and I that are in their basket.
- Summertime- Summer Dances
- First Snowfall of winter- We ALWAYS make snow candy with caramel poured into the snow and cancel all school plans so the kids can play all day in the snow
- Shavuot- Jewish Holiday where you stay up all night and eat cheesecake and read scriptures
- Ukrainian Christmas- This holiday is celebrated by making perogies together and eating a feast
- Saint Nicholas Day– German Holiday on December 6 where all the children put out their boots and St. Nicholas comes and fills up their boots with candy and nuts
- Christmas Eve- I could write a whole post about this
- Christmas Day- We have a service scavenger hunt where we do acts of service for people around town. My kids love it. We also have a feast, make a birthday cake for Jesus, and have a silly string war.
- New Years Eve– Have a big party
- New Years Day– we make a list of everything all of us have learned all that year, or any new experience that we had. We keep these for our family journal and read them throughout the years. This has proved to be a priceless keepsake!
- The Day we Moved onto our Land– we always celebrate this with a neighborhood softball game
- Cold Days- For us cold days means that we have to make cinnamon buns. In the case of this picture we were living on a tropical island and there were no cold days, so excuse the anomaly!
- Sunday Singing- Many, many sundays our family goes to old folks homes and sing to them. We also sing to our neighbors or to people who are sick or sad in our community.
- Sunflower Sunday- Once a year the fields surrounding our house bust into vibrant colors of yellow, orange and green. We call it ‘Sunflower Sunday’ This magnificent display lasts for only a few days. The whole neighbourhood gets together and here’s what happens!
- Apple Cider Party– More about this later
- Thanksgiving- Big feast with friends and family
Learn the Meaning Behind the Traditions
One of my favorite things to do is to teach my kids what meaning each tradition has. This gives them a greater depth of understanding for other cultures and religions. This is one of the best ways to learn about other people!
Create Traditions Around Your Family History or Family Stories
One of the BEST ways to bind children together and to their past is through sharing stories and traditions that are past down from their ancestors. Is it making bread from yeast you caught yourself, or making soap once a year? Whatever it is as you celebrate that day, be sure to share lots of stories to help make it more meaningful.
Don’t be Afraid to Get Rid of Traditions that aren’t working for your family
I often try something and then get rid of it because it didn’t have the intended effect. Plus as your family grows your traditions will also need to grow!
Create Traditions That Include Other People
Every summertime we invite 100’s of people over to join us for outdoor family dances. It has created so many precious memories for my kids.
Every October, our neighbor has the neighborhood over for a fireroast and chili in the snow.
Every Christmas another neighbor invites everyone over for a star gazing and hot chocolate party
Every Boxing day a close family friend books the local church gym and invites everyone she knows for a potluck and party
Every Fall my brother gets out his apple press and all of our families and friends go to his house where we make freshly pressed apple juice and have a potluck dinner together.
Okay…so just to remind you!
So…what are YOUR favorite family traditions that will last? Leave us a comment
P.S. Here is a video of one of my favorite family traditions.