Do You Follow Any “New” Traditions?


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
  • Babymoon
  • 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

Baby photos

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?



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