I’m very interested in the traditions of everyday life.
Research shows that traditions and rituals boost physical and emotional health. They can elevate experiences, enrich memories, strengthen relationships, and reduce decision-making. They can add a sense of whimsy, community, and holiday to our lives.
I got curious about new, secular traditions in the United States—ones that have arisen in recent decades. I came up with:
- elaborate yearly photos for the first day of school or summer camp
- the great expansion of Halloween
- Taco Tuesday
I asked on social media for other ideas, and was fascinated to read about so many traditions—many of which I’ve observed myself, but without quite realizing that I was participating in a new traditional practice.
People suggested so many traditions:
- Dry January—my sister Elizabeth likes to do this
- Promposals—an elaborate “Will you go to the prom with me?”
- NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month—I’ve done NaNoWriMo myself
- Graduations for many milestones—preschool, kindergarten, sixth grade
- Tailgating at football games
- Elaborate bachelor and bachelorette parties
- Pregnancy photos
- Push present
- Photos of marriage proposals
- Pumpkin Spice Latte release date—I think it’s so funny to think of this as a cultural tradition
- Black Friday
- Cyber Monday
- Giving Tuesday
- Monthly photos of a new baby, with a prop to show how old the baby is and how big—I did this for my daughters, but took a photo every three months, not every month
I’d never heard of some traditions:
- Leprechaun trap
- 100th day of a baby’s life—though my daughter’s kindergarten did celebrate “100th Day”
- Dog weddings
- Wellness Wednesday
Someone wrote, “Here’s a tradition that I wish would gain some traction: clean up after yourself. Can someone make this a social media sensation?” Hilarious.
If you want some ideas for family traditions, Elizabeth and I talked about listeners’ ideas in episode 378 of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast.
Traditions are fun, but they can consume a fair amount of time, energy, and money. Do you tend to embrace new traditions, or are you more reluctant to join in?