How to Adopt Meaningful Holiday Traditions
Most of us start our married lives with the holiday traditions that have been handed down from previous generations. There’s nothing wrong with that! But maybe you find yourself “doing what you’ve always done” simply because it’s what you’ve always done, and you’d like to make some adjustments so the traditions in your household are consistently meaningful for you.
There are three simple steps to developing meaningful holiday traditions…
1. Start with what you already have.
2 Consider what you’re trying to communicate or commemorate.
3. Create new traditions.
- Start with What You Already Have
Our family doesn’t celebrate Easter (That’s not the point of this blog post so please don’t let me lose you here! I’m just using our situation as an example.) Easter has pagan origins, as do most of the traditions associated with it, and we simply haven’t found most of them worth adopting in our home. Our thinking goes something like this:
Easter (the name of the holiday) – comes from the name Ishtar. Ishtar was a pagan goddess also known as the “Queen of Heaven.” (Jer. 7:18; 44:17-25)
Rabbits and eggs are also associated with Ishtar, who was a fertility goddess. There’s nothing wrong with rabbits or eggs (or even colored eggs), but they aren’t something we feel add value to our springtime celebration.
The “Easter ham” is a throwback to the pigs that were sacrificed to the Queen of Heaven. This is in stark contrast to the sacrifices of God’s people, as pork was an abomination to the Lord. As a result, we consider this an inappropriate means of celebrating at this time, as well.
As far as I’m aware, there are no true pagan roots to the tradition of Easter baskets. Some commercialism, to be sure, but nothing blatantly anti-God. That makes this an “optional” thing in our minds – a thing that could be redeemed, depending on how one chooses to do it.
There are, however, some traditions which already communicate exactly what we’re trying to emphasize. They may be found in surprising places. For instance, new clothes!
I don’t know where this tradition originated, to be honest, but I find that it’s a perfect way to commemorate the Christian idea of “Easter” (or, more accurately, Passover).
Why? Passover is all about new clothes – in a spiritual sense. The Bible says that all of our righteousness is as filthy rags (Is. 54:6), but that He clothes us in His righteousness. (Is. 61:10) This was made possible through His sacrifice as our Passover Lamb and His resurrection three days later (at Firstfruits).
So here we have a perfect example of an already-existing tradition that can be adopted in a meaningful way. How do we make it meaningful? Talk about it. Be sure to tell your children why you’re getting new clothes. Explain to them how new clothes relate to Passover. In short, be intentional about making the connection.
- Consider What You’re Trying to Communicate or Commemorate
But what if you don’t already have any meaningful traditions? Or what if you want more? Or what if you have to replace existing traditions (if, for instance, your traditions revolve around food someone in your family can no longer eat)? Consider the same question: what is it we’re trying to communicate or commemorate? Then ask yourself what you can do that is fun, interesting, and/or memorable and will communicate that message.
- Create New Traditions
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Let’s use the Feast of Trumpets as an example. The Bible doesn’t say much about how it’s to be celebrated – just that trumpets were to be blown. For a kid, that’s not much of a holiday, and probably not very memorable, so you may want to do more. Well, what else says “trumpets”?
What about Bugles (the snack food)? Those are shaped like trumpets. Can you incorporate Bugles, or a Bugles-centric snack mix, into your celebration? If that recipe is something you use every year for that holiday, it becomes tradition; you will come to associate it with the holiday, and your children will remember it!
Or what about a cornucopia? That’s a “horn” of plenty. Perhaps you have a pretty cornucopia you can set out as decoration for the holiday. I think it could be interesting to set it out empty and then fill it when the Feast of Tabernacles (also known as the Feast of Ingathering, or “harvest”) rolls around a few weeks later.
Possibly you have an album of trumpet music that you could always listen to on this day. Sing praise songs about blowing a trumpet (“Blow the trumpet in Zion, Zion…” “…Year of Jubilee…”)? Decorate with trumpet flowers? You get the idea: just brainstorm ways to be mindful of that thing you’re trying to celebrate.
Before you know it, you’ll have a whole annual repertoire of traditions that are uniquely and intimately yours, serving as tools to pass the things of God on to your children in the context of your family!
Rachel is the wife of Michael Ramey, and mama to three girls and a boy. She blogs at Titus 2 Homemaker about all the things that go with being a homemaker and homeschooler – especially when you’re not innately domestic. Her family’s most notable holiday tradition is their Christmas tree!
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