Fiddler on the Roof’s Tevye had it right when he sang to the rooftops about tradition. He remarked, “Because of our traditions, everyone knows who he is.” Warm pies—even the ones you don’t like—lining the pantry counter the day before Thanksgiving. Piling sticks onto half-birthday bonfires. The raucous white elephant office potluck. Pasting cut-out hearts and sticky doilies on stacks of valentine cards before delivering. These traditions help us define our circles and find our belonging within them.
Thankfully, traditions extend beyond holidays and special occasions. The annual summer pilgrimage to a lakeside camping spot or the family stacking wood on brisk October days count, too, because they mark moments that matter each year. Even when these traditions involve long drives or hard work, we wouldn’t dare miss them.Frank Sonnenberg, author of BookSmart: Hundreds of Real-world Lessons for Success and Happiness, champions the benefits of traditions. They ground us in lots of ways:Traditions give us a sense of comfort and belonging. They bring families together and enable people to reconnect with friends.Traditions are a way we create lasting memories with our families and friends.Traditions offer us a meaningful reason to pause and reflect.
Our traditions are deeply personal, and that’s what makes them powerful. They bridge what we value individually with the kinship of our circles. The experiences we repeat and share with our communities are simple and generative. They help us feel gratitude for what is and create a rhythm in our lives that anchors us. Tevye says that traditions are the way we keep our balance, and he’s spot on. As we approach the holiday season, why not take a minute to consider those traditions that make you feel at home? They are familiar customs you repeat over and over—and yet somehow never get old. When they are good and rich, we can’t help but look forward to them.What traditions will greet you in coming months? Do you get a little giddy planning for them? Can you nearly smell the pies cooling on the counter? Take a deep whiff, and relish all that awaits. Tradition, tradition! Tradition!