06 Aug Enjoying traditions: The perfect mix of comfort and fun
Chasing new experiences and embracing change to keep life vibrant is all well and good – but great fun can be found in enjoying traditions that mix comfort and enjoyment.
One of the great things about traditions is that you do know what to expect – and you know that (usually) you will find joy in it.
Traditions are so often tied to our favourite times, such as Christmas, birthdays and holidays. They serve as a celebratory marker in time when families and friends can join together in enjoyment.
But traditions can also be simple, weekly events that let you relax and enjoy the things that you love, alongside the people you love.
“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” Gustav Mahler
The joy of timeless traditions
A little bit like the way beliefs are passed on, traditions are passed down through families, classmates and communities.
Wikipedia defines a tradition as: ‘A belief or a behaviour, a folk custom that’s passed down within a group or society that has a symbolic meaning or special significance with the origins of the past.’
The Wikipedia page adds that the English word tradition apparently comes from the Latin traditio, via the French noun for the verb tradere (to transmit). It is originally used in Roman law to refer to the concept of legal transfers and inheritance, passing down money and goods to family.
Traditions can go back thousands of years, being passed from one generation to the next. They can belong to nations, or be cultural traditions rooted in religion or superstition that are designed to bring good fortune the following year.
Some are just for fun though.
Dining out on food traditions
One great tradition for the people of Stoke-on-Trent (my hometown) is eating oatcakes. Widely loved, there still remains a debate about the best way to eat these local delicacies. Many people, including myself, even make a tradition of eating oatcakes at the weekend.
One of the big questions is how do you eat your oatcakes? Are you a savoury oatcake eater with cheese and bacon; or cheese, bacon, sausage and mushrooms? Do you go for ketchup? Or do you put brown sauce on your oatcakes? Or, are you a sweet oatcake eater? Do you have them with jam or golden syrup? On Saturday lunchtimes when I was growing up as a kid we always had oatcakes.
“The human soul can always use a new tradition. Sometimes we require them.” Pat Conroy
Enjoying traditions around the world
Traditions are not always about the tried and tested. Travel can introduce you to traditions never heard of or experienced before, with all sorts of weird and wonderful customs taking place across the globe.
In Scotland there is tossing the caber in the highland games. Afternoon tea is popular in England. And making canang sari in Bali – beautifully woven little baskets filled with colourful flowers, incense and food.
In Hawaii the tradition is to welcome guests with a lei garland made from flowers to wear like a necklace. Visiting Fiji, you’ll be welcomed with a drink called Kava, made by mixing the powered root of a pepper plant with water.
Mexico has the Day of the Dead celebrations to remember ancestors, while in Thailand they have a tradition called Yi Peng where paper lanterns are released during the full moon to free people from all the bad luck of the past year.
Spain has the La Tomatina festival, where approximately 22,000 people gather to throw tomatoes at each other.
Celebrating the solstice is an ancient tradition here in England, where people would gather at Stonehenge to mark the occasion. On May Day people dress up and dance around the maypole with ribbons. And don’t forget Mardi Gras for carnival excitement.
Then of course, there are religious events and holidays that are also steeped in tradition – Christmas, Eid, Thanksgiving and Australia Day to name a few of the many traditional celebrations around the world.
“Tradition means taking account of a wonderful history but remembering that everybody today looks to the future.” Michael Kadoorie
Embracing challenge through tradition
There’s a tradition in Brighton on New Year’s Day where people gather on the beach, strip off and run into the sea. Now who would want to do that? It’s January, it’s England – and the sea is freezing! I’m happier bringing in the New Year running out the back door and in the front door with a piece of coal. Where did that tradition come from? Who are the first people to start traditions? When people follow these rituals year after year it soon becomes tradition.
There are food traditions linked to events such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or Diwali. Specific foods eaten in different areas – the Staffordshire oatcake, Scottish haggis, Pease pudding in the North West, lava bread in Wales, Cornish cream teas and Yorkshire moggy cake. You could have your own family food tradition such as getting fish and chips on a Friday, cooking a Sunday Roast or enjoying Saturday meals at your grandparents’ house.
Traditions to mark milestones
There are also school traditions, such as on the last day of school. It used to be a tradition that everybody got floured and egged, now that has been replaced by signing your name on everybody’s school shirt.
Prom nights was a strong tradition in the USA have now become a school tradition in the UK as well where youngsters plan their prom outfit, make up and jewellery months ahead – as well as flash transportation. Another great education tradition is the throwing of hats in the air after graduation.
“Tradition lives because young people come along who catch its romance and add new glories to it.” Michael Novak
A tradition could be to go to the same festival every year or to see Blackpool illuminations. Perhaps your family enjoys Party in the Park or a summer classical music concert with a picnic.
Maybe you have specific family traditions at Christmas – leaving out mince pies, sherry, lighting the pudding or playing special games. Do you always head out on an egg hunt at Easter too?
Traditions can be so valuable and so much fun, creating magical moments and memories as well as things to look forward to.
Choose the life you want to lead
What traditions do you enjoy? Did you create any over the last few months like having family Zoom get-togethers on a Saturday evening? Or quiz nights with family or friends? Have you started traditions during these last few months that can continue for many years to come?
Have some of your family traditions disappeared – ask your Mum and Dad what family traditions you used to do but don’t anymore? Maybe you could reignite one or two or create a new tradition?
Make some history, have fun and start some new trends by getting some traditions going. Find inspiration and share your ideas within the Back on Track Teens community, I’d love to hear all about your traditions. Share this with me, comment on this blog or find us on social media:
Enjoying traditions give people something to look forward to, something that they know will give them pleasure and satisfaction. When so much can be unknown it can be great to have a taste of the expected.