Five Unchanging Qualities of Family Traditions (Easter Musing)

It’s Easter today and I’ve been thinking.

I’ve been thinking about how some of our Easter traditions are changing.

The interesting thing about traditions ….. is that they cannot all indefinitely stay the same.

According to Wikipedia,

“A tradition is a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past.”

And one of Merriam-Webster dictionary’s definitions is:

” the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction”.

I really like my traditions to stay the same, and I love to share them and pass them on to my children.

But therein lies the rub. My “children” are no longer children. My sons are currently sixteen and eighteen years of age; an older teenager and a young adult.

And so although many things can and will stay the same, other things are changing.

dinner rolls and bag of potatoes

When I was a child, my parents hid candy in the house for us to find on Easter morning before church. I loved that tradition, but always had a “dream” of an outdoor Easter egg hunt.

We also poked tiny pin-holes in eggs, blew out the insides (probably saving them to cook later), and colored the eggshells with food coloring in water.

And we ate hot cross buns.

bread-maker bread

When my oldest was about three years old, we were invited to be a part of our very first Easter egg hunt. It was a very special outdoor gathering at a church friend’s farm home. The party consisted of an outdoor picnic and Easter egg hunt in their back yard (my childhood dream!).

searching for eggs at Easter egg hunt

Easter Egg Hunt

So every year on the Saturday before Easter Sunday (except for one during which we were away on vacation), we enjoyed this wonderful time of food, friends, and outdoor egg-hunting fun. Over time, the size of the event grew along with the age of our kids. The egg hunt grew to include the adjacent fields, and eventually, the big kids ended up looking for eggs all the way out in the woods, or decided to help hand out the extra candy and prizes to the little ones.

looking for eggs

 

 

finding eggs

Afterwards, we almost always rushed to our Saturday evening Easter service (another tradition of our church; we have an extra, early service on most holidays, in order to free up Sunday for those who have family to visit or entertain). We would change into our good clothes, enjoy a short but meaningful service, then come home to relax while the boys would compare treats.

dress clothes

 

fun at the egg hunt

Easter Egg Hunt eggs

We have enjoyed this particular tradition until just a couple of years ago.

I don’t think my guys are missing the egg hunt too much at this age, but a part of me still does. I don’t really want to go back to them being younger and relive the past, but it’s another one of those closing chapters in the book of our lives.

So this year, I’ve decided that it’s time for me to let it go.

But with the loss of an enjoyed, familiar tradition, I’m also realizing that I need to create some new traditions. I’ll be thinking about this in the years to come.

This year, I decided to bake a dried cherry almond bread in my bread-maker for an Easter morning treat. I programmed the machine last night before bed, and it was wonderful to awake to the aroma of freshly baking bread this morning. Perhaps homemade cinnamon rolls may make it to the Easter morning menu!

bread from bread-maker

One thing that’s nice is just having a little more breathing space in our Easter weekend. Due to either Easter choir or music ministry, usually my husband or I are involved at all three church services, while the other stays home and cooks the Easter ham dinner with the boys.

Although my sons would claim they are too old and mature for Easter egg hunts, they haven’t complained one bit about the chocolate and candy that I still surprise them with on Easter morning. Even my husband and I get in on the fun (who doesn’t like a little chocolate?), although this year I supplemented our modest amount of treats with a nice, scented candle.

Easter treats

You can see that while some of our family traditions are the same or similar to those of earlier years, others are in the process of changing.

This is a necessary development as people grow, preferences and circumstances change, or perhaps some traditional activities are no longer available.

What is important is the meaning of what we are celebrating, and the fact that we are sharing our old and new traditions with those we love.

family Easter dinner

Now that we’ve concluded that traditions themselves will sometimes change, it’s worth considering what part of our traditions should stay the same.

 

Five Unchanging Qualities of Family Traditions:

 

1. The True Meaning of the Holiday is Central –

The real meaning of the holiday is the most important element in the celebration. For those of us who are Christians, holidays like Christmas and Easter will have a central focus on the celebration of what those holidays mean to our faith. We are not simply passing on meaningless traditions to our children, but sharing elements of our values and beliefs.

2. Family and Loved Ones Are Together –

I think most of us would agree that one of the most important factors of holiday traditions is that we are together with family and loved ones. It may not always be possible to be together physically, but a phone call can keep us connected. Or we may chose to bless someone else who needs a family with whom to celebrate. Sharing time with loved ones gives special meaning and enjoyment to our holidays.

3. We Celebrate Our Family History or Culture –

What would certain holidays be like without the rich and varied traditions of our cultures? We can pass on both significant and fun elements of our family’s culture(s) through holiday traditions. It helps us to be proud of who we are, and understand where we came from.

4. Familiarity and Routines Are Healthy –

Most of us realize that while change can be fun, interesting and help us to grow, familiarity and routine are healthy and less stressful. We find a degree of security in doing something familiar and knowing what to expect.

5. It’s Just Plain Fun! –

This may sound shallow, but a big reason we do an awful lot of our traditional activities is just for good, plain fun! Making memories is the stuff of life, especially in our families. These are the times that draw us close and energize us for the more mundane responsibilities of everyday life. Our memories stay with us even as time passes and things change.

 

It’s interesting to note that I didn’t even make the connection until after I finished writing this post, that my word of the year seems to be “change”…..so thoughts about changing tradtions really shouldn’t have come as such a surprise. 🙂

No matter what changes time and circumstances bring, I plan to continue to celebrate family traditions and enjoy every moment.

*****

What special traditions do you observe at Easter? Do you prefer the familiarity of doing the same thing year after year or enjoy spontaneous changes? What important traditions do you wish to pass on to your children or loved ones?

 

2 replies
  1. Sue Pouliot
    Sue Pouliot says:

    Well Ann, the years do pass and slowly time changes things… Illness, death and aging, not only our children but ourselves, force holiday traditions to change. Sometimes distance keeps many family members apart due to mives from a marriage or job opportunity. Change can be tough . tougher on families who have had many “traditions with their children such as you and most fortunate people

    Like you said, I wouldn’t wish to go back in time to relive ” the good old days”. Instead, I wish to be thankful for the memories, be flexible and open to new plans in the future and Grateful to be included in my children’s holiday plans and celebrations… As there are two other families in the equation after a marriage, the in law’s and the new union of the couple.

    It all changed and will continue… Stay grateful and all will be well.

    Reply
    • Ann Guinn
      Ann Guinn says:

      You’re so right, Sue! There will be many more changes to come! I agree with you that it’s so important to consider the needs & desires of the “two other families”, once our children are grown and if they are married. Many family hurts and disagreements could be avoided if all families had such respect for each other! I will also treasure the memories, but choose to move forward!

      Reply

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