60+ Family Tradition Ideas

by Brett & Kate McKay on October 16, 2013 · 82 comments

in Fatherhood, Marriage, Relationships & Family

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Last week we published an article that discussed why and how to establish family traditions. Traditions offer numerous benefits: they strengthen your family’s bonds, enrich the life you share together, contribute to your children’s well-being, and create lasting memories. For this reason, they form one of the three pillars of family culture.

Today we offer a list of over 60 specific family tradition ideas. You can incorporate some of these directly into your family, or use them as inspiration for creating your own traditions.

Before we get started, let’s cover a few things that will help ensure that your establishment of new traditions will be met with success:

  • While it’s tempting to go crazy with starting lots of traditions, shoot for quality over quantity. If you do a couple from within each category, you’re gold.
  • Choose traditions that most resonate with you. Having said that, as you review the list, try not to immediately write off some as silly or not elaborate enough. This isn’t only about what appeals to you as a jaded adult, but what will appeal to your kids. If you think back to your childhood, some surprisingly silly and simple stuff was a lot of fun and created great memories.
  • Traditions need to be practiced regularly to be effective. It’s easy to throw a tradition out the window when life gets busy and you’ve had a long day. Commit to the tradition and do your best to be as consistent as possible with it.

The ideas below come from The Book of New Family Traditions, from mine and Kate’s respective families, from our friends’ families, and from those we’ve come up with for our own family.

Daily Connection Traditions

Daily Connection Traditions are the small things you do every day to reinforce family identity and values. Without thought and intentionality, your family’s daily “traditions” can devolve into everyone surfing the internet on their own devices. So be sure to incorporate some rituals that bring you together face-to-face and allow you to re-connect each day.

Secret Handshake. Secret handshakes have been used by groups for millennia to distinguish members and non-members. Make one up for your own family. It can be elaborate and complex or simple but meaningful. An example of the latter comes from a family profiled in The Book of New Family Traditions. This family had the tradition of squeezing each others’ hands three times to signal the three words “I love you.” On the day the daughter got married, the father squeezed her hand three times as he walked her down the aisle. “Only she knew that this was happening, a tiny personal ritual lodged invisibly within one of the grandest and most public, and she says it was one of the most moving moments of her life.”

Family Meal. Countless studies have shown the positive influence that sharing a meal together as a family (it doesn’t have to be dinner) has on children. We’ll be dedicating an entire post to how to get the most out of family meals, but in the meantime, consider these suggestions to turn the breaking of bread into a cherished tradition:

  • First: no TV, no cellphones, and no tablets.
  • Begin with grace. If you’re not religious, have everyone share something that they’re grateful for that day.
  • Family news: everyone takes turns sharing something positive and negative that has happened to them during the day.
  • “Got any stories?” This is a tradition that Kate and I have had for a few years. Each person is expected to bring something interesting to the table that they’ve read or heard during the day.

Family Prayer. For religious families, prayer is an important ritual. Family prayer doesn’t have to be just a dinnertime thing. You can pray as a family before everyone leaves in the morning, before everyone goes to bed, or both. Our family has prayers at night. Everyone takes turns saying the prayer, including Gus.

Family Singing Time. There’s something about singing that unites humans on a primal level. What’s more, through song, you can pass on your values and cultural heritage to your children. Our family always sings a song or two when we put Gus to bed. It’s something we’ve done since he was an infant, and you can tell it makes him feel comforted, loved (we often sing songs about being a family), and relaxed. It’s been cool to watch him slowly learn the words and start singing along with us.

I really hope that Gus or Scout is interested in taking piano lessons, as I have a very fond dream of one day standing around the piano singing Christmas carols together.

The “What We Learned Today” Journal. “Buy a fancy, leather-bound journal. Each night before bed, every member of the family needs to write something they learned during the day. Parents can transcribe for little children. Entries don’t have to be long or profound. It can be as simple as, “If you touch a turtle, he puts his head back in his shell.” This is a great way to foster a love of lifelong learning in your children.

Surprise Daily Drawing/Note. There’s a guy here in Tulsa who drew little comics or wrote inspiring quotes on the napkins he put in his daughters’ school lunches. Napkin Dad was born. I want to do something like this when my kiddos start school.

Family Hugs. Kate and I try to get in one family hug a day. Afterwards, we usually put in our hands and say, “Three, two, one,” before lifting them up and shouting “McKays!” Yeah, it’s kind of cheesy, but Gus loves it, and the idea is to really drive home our family identity.

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Bedtime Story. Children who have parents that read to them regularly typically do better in school and have larger vocabularies than children who don’t. Reading with your child will not only make them smarter, but it’s a great way to bond. There’s something really comforting about hearing your dad read aloud to you. For inspiration, check out this dad and daughter who read together every night for 3,128 days straight until the daughter was in college.

Evening Walks. Not only can walking help solve problems, but it can also strengthen families. Evening walks are a great time to get some fresh air and digest the day’s events along with your dinner.

Family Call-and-Response Motto. When they were growing up, brothers Jim and John Harbaugh (the coaches of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens respectively) didn’t have much. But their father always made them feel like they had everything they needed. To reinforce this feeling, he would ask his boys, “Who’s got it better than us?” To which they would respond: “Nooo-body!” Jim now uses the same call and response to build the unity of his football team.

Weekly Connection Traditions

Family Game Night. Analog games, from cribbage to Apples to Apples, are a fun and cheap way to bond and have fun together as a family.  Tamp the competition down and ramp the laughter up. I personally can’t wait to play Boggle with Gus and Scout.

Movie Night. Let the kids take turns picking a movie to watch, and do an occasional dad’s choice night as well to introduce your progeny to classics like Back to the Future and Raiders of the Lost Ark while waxing poetic about how movies were just plain better in the 80s. Have fun with the snacks too – come up with dad’s special popcorn recipe or occasionally take the kids to the drugstore and let them each pick out their own candy.

Saturday Football. There’s something incredibly relaxing and comforting about watching college football with your family on a Saturday afternoon in the fall. Pass down your alma mater pride as you cheer on your team together.

Pizza Night. Everyone loves pizza, and it’s nice to be able to look forward to having it on a certain night each week. Skip the delivery now and again and make your own – allowing the kids to decide how to top their own super simple mini pizzas.

Don’t like pizza? How about Taco Tuesday? We love Taco Tuesday around here.

Family Home Evening. Mormons are encouraged to set aside one night per week (usually Monday night) for Family Home Evening. A typical Family Home Evening includes a fun activity and a short lesson or devotional on some virtue or scripture. FHE is usually capped off with a special treat.

The goal of Family Home Evening is to teach your children the principles and values you want them to carry with them as adults, all within an informal and loving atmosphere. FHE can be adapted by families of any religious stripe or even families who aren’t religious. There’s no formula for Family Home Evening. Just corral the kids for 30 minutes one night a week for fun, discussion, and eats.

Family Vinyl Dance Party. AoM contributor Cameron Schaefer shared a fun family tradition in his post on getting started in vinyl record collecting. On Friday nights the Schaefer family gathers in their family room for a Vinyl Record Dance Party. A family member selects a soundtrack for the night, and they all dance until they collapse on the floor.

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Special Saturday/Sunday Morning Breakfast. Lots of families have special Saturday/Sunday morning breakfast traditions. For some it’s pancakes or cinnamon rolls, for others it’s a giant breakfast casserole. Dads and breakfasts just go together, so work on coming up with your own specialty.

Breakfast need not be a solely in-home tradition, however. I take Gus to Braum’s every Saturday morning for breakfast. Pancakes and milk for Gus. Sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit for dad. We’ve been doing this since Gus was about 10 months old, and we’ve rarely missed a Saturday. It’s a hoot to see Gus get all excited about “Breakfast at Braum’s” on Friday night.

Dinner & Grocery Shopping. Every Monday we go as family to a grocery store that also has their own little restaurant. We eat dinner there first and then do our shopping. Doesn’t sound really exciting, but we all look forward to it.

Weekly Family Meeting. Your family is an organization. And like any successful organization, you need to plan, discuss issues, and synchronize schedules. Enter the weekly family meeting. I’ll be dedicating an entire post on how to run a successful family meeting in the future. Stay tuned.

Monthly Connection Traditions

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Full Moon Walks. A full moon occurs roughly every 29 days. While you may have gotten used to seeing them, they really are a magical sight – especially for kids who haven’t lost their sense of wonder. Whenever a full moon has risen, take a walk outside at night as a family to have a look at it. Get into the woods sometimes if you can in order to experience the awe of nature at night. This is a great way to get your kids keyed in to the rhythms and cycles of our world.

Box of Goals. An important life skill for your children to develop is how to set and work towards a goal. What better way to teach this than with a family tradition? Get a cigar box or fancy wooden box and on the first day of each month, have your family members write down one goal they want to accomplish that month on a piece of paper and place it in the box. When next month rolls around, take out the pieces of paper and review the goals to see how everyone did. Then write new goals for the next month. Rinse and repeat.

Daddy Date. We have a friend who has three daughters. Ever since they were knee-high to a grasshopper, he took one of them each month on a “Daddy Daughter Date.” Rules were simple. The daughter he spent the evening with got to pick the activity they took part in. He didn’t care what they did. His goal was to give each one of his kids one-on-one time with dad.

The monthly date with dad isn’t just for daughters. You can do something similar with your sons as well.

Family Service Day. If creating a culture of service is part of your family mission statement, put that goal into action with a monthly Family Service Day. Designate one Saturday or Sunday to serving others. It could mean spending a morning at the homeless shelter or cleaning the garden of an elderly neighbor or sorting clothes at Goodwill.

Life Changes/Milestone Traditions

Milestone traditions celebrate events that may occur only a few times, or even just once for your immediate family. But they become traditions as they are passed down from one generation to the next.

New Home Traditions

New Home Dedication. Buying a home is a momentous occasion and thus a great time for instituting a family tradition. Some religious folks hold ceremonies in which they dedicate the home (and all those who dwell in it) to God.

In the Jewish tradition, it’s customary to hold a Chanukat Habayit (home dedication) party. At this gathering, words from the Torah are spoken and family and friends use the occasion to express their blessings and wishes for a fruitful and happy stay in this new home.

New Muslim homeowners will often host a feast in their new house and those that enter are to leave their blessing.

Differing Christian denominations have their own unique new home dedication rituals, but they typically involve a dedicatory prayer and a reading from the Bible. For some ideas on which scriptures to read check out this list. I know many Christian families that will place a plaque near their home’s entryway with the famous verse from Joshua 24:15 (“As for me and my house…”) after a home dedication ceremony.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” Blessing. In the classic holiday movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey and his wife, Mary, give a nice housewarming gift/blessing to a family that just moved into a new house:

Mary: Bread… that this house may never know hunger.

[Mary hands a loaf of bread to Mrs. Martini.]

Mary: Salt… that life may always have flavor.

[Mary hands a box of salt to Mrs. Martini.]

George Bailey: And wine… that joy and prosperity may reign forever. Enter the Martini Castle.

[George hands Mr. Martini a bottle of wine.]

You don’t need to know a thoughtful couple like the Baileys to experience this tradition. Just do it yourself when you move into your home. Make some focaccia maybe, and enjoy it with wine for mom and dad and grape juice for the kiddos.

Mortgage Burning Party. This one is for you Dave Ramsey “gazelles” out there. Once you pay off your home mortgage, throw a party with your family and ceremoniously burn your mortgage agreement. Mortgage burning parties were actually once a common tradition in America, but due to changing mores and the increasing mobility of Americans (thus making it less likely a homeowner will live long enough in a home to pay it off), Mortgage Burning Parties are pretty much unheard of today. I think it’s a tradition well-worth resurrecting.

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Family Time Capsule. Bury a family time capsule when you move into what you think will be your “forever home.” Fill the capsule with some of your family’s favorites things, notes, and items that represent the time period. Then open in it up in 20 or 30 years. Make sure you exhume it if you end up moving sooner than you thought you would.

School-Related Traditions

First Day of School Photos. On the first day of every school year, take your kiddos to the front of the house and snap a picture of them for posterity. You’ll enjoy looking back at how they’ve grown through the ages. I remember looking forward to this little ceremony as a kid. It was my chance to show off my cool new backpack and Air Force One high-tops.

First Day of School Chalk Pep Talk. Kids can sometimes be a little nervous on the first day of school. Give them a nice surprise by writing messages of encouragement on the driveway with chalk the night before. It will put a smile on their face when they walk out the door the next day.

Parent/Teacher Conference Note. Whenever Kate’s parents came in for parent/teacher conferences, they would leave a note for her in her desk, telling her how neat her desk was, how nice her artwork on the wall was, and a nice thing the teacher had said about her. Kate says she really looked forward to finding the note and that it was cool to think her parents had been there.

College Acceptance Celebration. One family I know would celebrate their kids’ college acceptance letters by buying everyone in the family a t-shirt or sweater with the school’s logo and then having a barbeque with the university’s fight song playing in the background. The mom would then snap a pic of the whole clan dressed in their school colors, frame it, and pack it in their kiddo’s stuff when he or she shipped off to college. Cheesy? A little bit, but I always thought it was a nice gesture.

Wedding Traditions

Night-Before-Wedding Roast. We have another friend whose family always stayed together at a hotel the night before one of the kids got married. They’d hang out and do a good-natured roast of the bride or groom-to-be. They had a big enough immediate family (5 kids) to make this fun. If your family is smaller, invite close extended family to take part too.

Birthday Traditions

Most families have traditions for celebrating birthdays. Cake, presents, dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. You know, the usual. Below are some birthday traditions you may not have thought about.

First Cake Cut Wish. I picked this one up from Kate’s family. In addition to getting a wish for blowing out the candles, the birthday boy or girl gets another wish for making the first cut into the birthday cake. Two wishes, one cake. Can’t beat that.

New Privilege/New Responsibility Cards. Amidst all the fun and hoopla, remind your kid that with age comes greater power and with greater power comes greater responsibility. In addition to birthday presents, present your child with two envelopes. One envelope is labeled, “New Privilege”; the other, “New Responsibility.” Provide an age appropriate privilege and responsibility each year.

8th/ 18th Birthday Time Capsule. On your child’s 8th birthday have him fill a time capsule with some of the things he likes and a note to himself. Open it a decade later on his 18th birthday.

Nose Grease. This birthday tradition comes from our friendly neighbors north of the border. In Canada (particularly the Atlantic Coast providences) it’s common for the birthday boy or girl to get ambushed by friends or family members and have their nose greased with butter for good luck. The buttered nose supposedly makes the person too slippery for bad luck to catch them. This tradition is said to come from Scotland. I think I’m going to have to adopt this one as it hails from my ancestral homeland of Nova Scotia.

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The Yearly Measurement on the Door Frame. Many families have a doorframe where they keep rough pencil lines marking off the height of their kiddos as they age. Make it a tradition to take the measurement on birthdays.

Miscellaneous Traditions

Hunting Traditions. Our hunter/gatherer ancestors developed meaningful traditions to celebrate the life-giving hunt. While hunting is no longer essential for survival, many families continue to have traditions that surround their yearly hunt. A few include celebrating the first kill by having the new hunter share his harvest with those in the group, the Hunting Beard, and the after-hunt breakfast or dinner. There are many more. I’d love to hear yours in the comments.

Meteor Watching Party. Once a year or so (use this handy calendar) get everybody up in the pre-dawn hours, dress warmly, drive out to a spot where there’s less light pollution, lie down on a blanket, and pour cups of cider or cocoa from a thermos as you watch for meteors and point out different constellations to your kids.

Welcome to Fall Dinner. Usher in the first day of the indisputably best season of the year by having a harvest-y dinner: turkey, stuffing, apple crisp, and the like. It’s something my mom did in my family growing up and I really enjoyed it.

Baseball Opening Day. While football has overtaken baseball as America’s favorite sport, there’s still something about celebrating America’s pastime by attending a game on opening day that resonates with me. It’s a chance to connect with your kiddos over a sport that’s connected generations of American families.

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Barbershop Visit with Dad. Every man should frequent the barbershop. So should every little boy. Instill in your strapping little lad the time-honored, manly tradition of visiting the barbershop by making his first visit a big deal. Take pictures of him getting his ears lowered and then take him out for breakfast or lunch afterwards. From then on, get your haircuts together.

Annual Camping Trip. Inspire a love of the great outdoors in your kids by taking them camping at least once a year. If you find a campsite you love, return to it again and again as you build special memories around that place.

Another fun tradition is to pick a day each year that you go backyard “camping” with your kid.

Holiday Traditions

The holidays are the most tradition-rich time of the year. There are a lot of great classic traditions out there from making cookies for Christmas to doing an egg hunt on Easter. Here are some holiday traditions you may not have thought of.

Easter

Easter Basket Scavenger Hunt. Instead of setting out the Easter baskets by their bed or in the living room, have your kids do a fun hunt for them. Leave the first clue by their beds, and have them follow one clue to the next until they find their baskets.

An important note: adding a scavenger hunt to anything turns it into an awesome, memorable tradition. I’m not sure there’s anything more fun as a kid than a scavenger hunt.

Egg Wars. The fun of dyeing Easter eggs doesn’t have to end when you pour out the food coloring. On Easter Day, commence the egg wars. Two people each hold an egg and on the count of three, they hit the end of their eggs together. Whoever’s egg cracks loses; the winner goes on to another battle. You can offer a prize to whoever has the egg that lasts the longest. During the Great Depression, Kate’s grandfather’s family was so poor, that the prize was keeping the other person’s egg.

Halloween

Pumpkinfest. Make the classic tradition of pumpkin carving extra special by finding a nice pumpkin patch that you return to each year, taking a hayride while there, and making a whole pumpkin-themed meal to precede the carving (pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie…).

Tombstone Rubbing and Ghost Stories. Tombstone rubbing used to be a popular pastime with folks. It’s still popular among genealogists searching for info about ancestors. Basically, you just get some butcher paper, place it over the face of the tombstone, and then rub charcoal or crayon on it so that the lettering on the tombstone is transferred to the paper.

To make this activity a bit spookier, visit an old cemetery at night and have a contest to see who can get the oldest tombstone rubbing. (Make sure to bring flashlights!) Afterwards, tell ghost stories while sitting in the cemetery. Spoooky!

Candy Swapping Wizard. This is a good one if you’re not crazy about your kids grazing on their trick-o-treat candy for the next 6 months, but want to do something about it that’s more fun than curmudgeonly. Tell your kids to select X number of pieces of candy they get to keep, and then to place the rest of their booty outside the door to their room. During the night, a wizard comes and swaps their candy for a gift.

Jack O’ Lantern Burial. After serving valiantly on Halloween Night, a carved Jack O’Lantern typically experiences an ignoble end by slowly wilting away on the front porch and eventually being tossed in the trash. One family featured in The Book of New Family Traditions didn’t think their Jack O’ Lanterns deserved such an anticlimactic demise. So they decided to give their carved pumpkins a proper burial the day after Halloween. They have a small patch in their backyard that’s designated as the “Pumpkin Graveyard.” The day after Halloween the family brings their respective Jack O’ Lanterns to the graveyard and offer a short eulogy that goes thusly:

“We are gathered here to pay homage to our dearly departed Jack O’ Lanterns. Throughout their short lives our Halloween Pumpkins have brought both us and our Trick-or-Treaters much joy. We now consign them to the earth where they first came. May they rest in peace.”

All of this is done, of course, with tongue firmly placed in cheek.

Says the mother of this family, “The Great Pumpkin would be proud.”

Thanksgiving

Thankful Box. As they hang out before dinner begins, family members are encouraged to take time to anonymously write down a few things they are grateful for on slips of paper, which are then placed in a decorated shoebox. Later on as the family eats dessert, the box is passed around the table and each person draws a slip and reads it aloud until the box is empty. The fun comes both in hearing family members offer heartfelt (and occasionally humorous) thank yous, and in guessing who wrote what.

Turkey Bowl Football Game. For families that have huge extended family gatherings at Thanksgiving, a morning of touch football is a great way to work up an appetite for turkey and pumpkin pie later that day.

Watching the Lions Lose. No Thanksgiving would be complete without the family gathered around the TV to watch the Detroit Lions lose. It would be like Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Christmas

Out with the Old, In with the New. To teach your kids to live just a bit more simply, to accumulate less stuff, and not to hold onto what they have too tightly, require that for however many gifts they get for Christmas, they have to get rid of the same number of their old toys/clothes. Throw away or donate what they discard.

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Glass Wax Stencils. This is a tradition from Kate’s family that we plan to carry into ours. Glass wax is a liquid window cleaner that comes out pinkish and dries with a white frost. By blotting it with a sponge over stencils, you can, as the makers of glass wax used to tout, “turn you window into a winter wonderland!” Stenciling with glass wax used to be popular decades ago, but has almost entirely disappeared, making both the stencils and the wax hard to find. Look for the stencils on ebay and the glass wax at the Vermont Country Store.

Pickle on the Christmas Tree. Legend has it that during the Civil War, Private John C. Lower was being held at a prison camp and was given a pickle on Christmas Eve by one of the guards. Starving, he believed the pickle helped save his life, and after the war he began a tradition of hiding a pickle on the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve for his family to find the next morning. Other origin stories for this 19th century American tradition are floated as well. Nowadays, a pickle ornament is hung on the tree on Christmas Eve and whoever finds the pickle first the next morning gets an extra gift or is promised a year of good fortune.

Countdown to Christmas with Books. There are a lot of fun ways to count down to Christmas with your kids, from making a paper chain to opening the doors of an advent calendar. Here’s a new one I picked up from The Book of New Family Traditions: wrap 24 books about Christmas, and open and read one each night during December. On the 24th, the book that is opened is The Night Before Christmas.

Run a Marathon Before Opening Presents. The parents of a family we know who are very ambitious, gung-ho about life, and love physical challenges would make their kids run a marathon before they got to open presents. Not individually, mind you! The 26 miles was split between the parents and their 4 kids, depending on age and ability. Quite a way to teach delayed gratification.

New Year’s Eve

Rent a Hotel Room. Staying at a hotel is terribly exciting when you’re a kid. Rent a room on New Year’s Eve, bring board games and snacks, let the kids swim, and have a family slumber party to ring in the new year.

Banging on Pots and Pans at Midnight. The tradition of noisemakers at midnight originates from the belief that it would scare away bad luck and evil spirits. Let your kids run down the streets banging on pots and pans when the clock strikes twelve.

Eating Chinese. I’m not sure why we associate New Year’s Eve with Chinese food, since the Chinese New Year is on a different date, but Kate and I have started a tradition of going out for Chinese food on December 31. Just seems lucky somehow.

If you’re feeling more ambitious, try your hand at making our own fortune cookies and creating personalized fortunes for your family.

Putting Regrets to the Fire. Have each family member write down and then share one of their regrets from the past year. Then throw the regrets into the fireplace to symbolize a fresh start.

Read the other posts in the series: 
Fathering With Intentionality: The Importance of Creating a Family Culture
Creating a Positive Family Culture: How and Why to Create a Family Mission Statement
Creating a Positive Family Culture: The Importance of Establishing Family Traditions
Creating a Positive Family Culture: How to Plan and Lead a Weekly Family Meeting

Despite the size of this list, there are tons of other great traditions out there – we didn’t even mention all the specific religious/ethnic/cultural traditions that exist! Tradition ideas are limited only by your creativity. Please share your family’s traditions in the comments!

Illustrations by Ted Slampyak

{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dave October 16, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Super Bowl Sunday.

No matter who is playing you sit down and watch the Super Bowl with the old man.

Oh and eat food that is bad for ya.

2 Ethan October 16, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Every year for Christmas, My Dad makes a gingerbread house and assembles it when no one else is there so he can put gifts for us inside. We then decorate it as a family. Then on Christmas Eve we break open the house to receive our first gift of the Holiday.

3 Joey E October 16, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Great list! Some of these we do, and some we need to start doing!

I go out with each of my kids (1 girl, 2 boys) once per month. Definitely just as important for the boys as for the girls. But we don’t call it dates. Just “out.”

An idea that a mentor gave me that I’ve been doing since our oldest was 1 year old: keep a journal for each of our kids. I know that some do this by blogging now, but most of what I write is private. And it’s great to watch my daughter pull an old journal off the shelf and read about when she was younger.

4 chris October 16, 2013 at 8:32 pm

For those Christians out there, check out the book, “Treasuring God in our Traditions” by Noel Piper for some good thoughts. http://www.amazon.com/Treasuring-God-Traditions-euml-Piper/dp/1581348339

5 Nabeeh Hasan October 16, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Hey, hey now! My Lions will mess up that turkey day tradition. This year is the year to hear a Thanksgiving Day Lion’s roar.

6 Casey October 16, 2013 at 8:58 pm

This is a great article. Another neat tradition is to put 100 dollars into a savings account every year on your child’s Birthday, along with a letter. Then when they turn 18, give the child the money and all the letters to read.

7 Atilla October 16, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Our traditions:
Monday steak dinner night – makes Mondays more tolerable!
Taco Tuesdays.
Say grace at dinner and always eat as a family at the table.
Full egg & meat breakfast. Every. Single. Morning.
At the very least – monthly father/son trips to the sportsmen’s club for some target shootin.
Annual trips to Grandpa’s Ponderosa for full blown weekends of off-roading, explosives and massive gunfire.
Volunteering at Church once a month.

8 Seth Carper October 16, 2013 at 9:31 pm

When my brother and I were growing up, my parents started the tradition of getting us each a Christmas ornament in the same style every year, and inviting the our extended family to do the same. My brother would get nutcrackers/soldiers, and I would get bells. Now that I’m married and out of the house, I have plenty of ornaments for our tree, and I’ve carried the tradition over to my wife: I get her a star ornament every year. It’s fun hunting down unique and special ornaments (I carved one for her last year), and each ornament holds memories of the person who gave it and the Christmas that it was given.

9 Mike October 16, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Some of my Italian-American family traditions. On New Year’s Eve we always open a front door and a back door – to let the new air in and the old air out. Always fun as a kid to open the front door at midnight and feel the frigid air. We’d also take a dish and toss it out the door, onto the stoop so it would break – for good luck.

On Christmas Eve we’d all get to open one present. And X-mas didn’t end until Jan. 6th – the Epiphany.

10 hagnat October 16, 2013 at 10:37 pm

a good tradition i had with my dad happened during the summer nights
we used to sit by the pool and watch the sky as we talk about our lives, sharing a beer or two
now that i live three states away from him i miss those nights, since living alone in a big city isnt as easy as in the small town i grew on

11 Bobby E. October 16, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Rather than a Jack-O-Lantern Graveyard, we blow our spent Jack-O-Lanterns up with fireworks! Admittedly, this started in college with my girlfriend and some buddies (after a few drinks), but everyone, including all our college town neighbors, loved it. We’ve done it ever since. Just save a few mortars from the 4th of July and place them upside down in the pumpkin (in a SAFE, clear area… and get outta the way!). The squishy, rotting pumpkin explodes wonderfully and the pieces decompose quickly into the earth. Great way to send our beloved Jack-O-Lanterns out with a bang!

12 Chris October 17, 2013 at 12:11 am

My family has always had the traditional Christmas tree burning every year. It sounds odd, but it was one of those things that just happened to become a tradition.

We take the Christmas tree down after new years, leave it in the backyard to dry out and in the summer we burn it in a bonfire. Dry Christmas trees go up in flames pretty quickly.

13 N. Watson October 17, 2013 at 1:04 am

My parents established the long-standing tradition that, on my birthday, I was required to get a gift for my brother, and on his birthday, he got a gift for me. It totally transformed birthdays from a self-centered day into a day where, though it was of course exciting to get a gift, the best part was when my brother opened the gift I’d found for him. It was also apparently a big help for my parents when we were too young to understand why only one sibling got gifts.

14 Asriel October 17, 2013 at 1:56 am

Growing up my parents had a few family traditions, one of which stuck with me the strongest:

On christmas morning my dad would get donuts, every christmas morning he did this, and we were not even to sit by the christmas tree or touch our presents until then. Once we had our donuts we got started.

Looking back now, as a father to be myself, i really appreciated that, and I think i looked forward to those donuts even more then my presents. :)

15 Matthew Spencer-Kociol October 17, 2013 at 3:15 am

This is an adorable article. I like how the 3 main religions of the book ave housewarming traditions and I’m ashamed that as an educated person I wasn’t specifically aware of them (but after all, I don’t know too many people my age who buy or own homes).

Also, a family time capsule sounds cloyingly adorable. Must try that some day.

16 Patrick October 17, 2013 at 4:41 am

The PA Dutch tradition for New Years Day is pork and sauerkraut with mashed potatoes. Eat it the first day of the year and it’ll bring you luck year long. One of my favorite things!

For all the home brewers around here, a friend of my dad’s made his son a “21 meade.” On the day his son was born, he made a bottle of meade, and he’s now letting it age until his son turns 21, when they will share the bottle together.

17 Fred October 17, 2013 at 6:30 am

Our most recent family tradition started about 5 years ago. The small town where I live has a festival every year in August. On the 2nd Saturday of August they close the festival with a fireworks display. You can see most of them from my back yard so I do a big family/friends cookout that evening and afterwards we all sit around and watch the fireworks. It becoming such a popular tradition that I’m going to build 2 more picnic tables this winter to have enough seating for everyone. I love doing and the fun of so many scattered family members and friends gathering together every year.

18 David October 17, 2013 at 7:22 am

I really appreciated this list, many great suggestions !
Even though my parents are often not at home, Saturday we share the lunch just after shopping. That really is the best meal of the week. We are a family of atheists, but we celebrate some kind of christmas, mixing tradiotions that have very different roots, we decorate a christmas tree with non-religious stuff and eat fondue.

19 Waitsel Smith October 17, 2013 at 7:44 am

Great idea! However, you included a lot of goofy traditions (like the pickle on the Christmas tree) and left off a lot of more meaningful ones. For example, candlelight services on Christmas Eve, traditions related to baptism and marriage, family devotionals each morning, bar mitzvah if you’re Jewish, coming-of-age or stages of knighthood/manhood (e.g., Raising A Modern Day Knight), etc. I would have STARTED my list with the Raising A Modern Day Knight list of ceremonies for boys and gone from there. But, to each his own.

20 Josh Maxson October 17, 2013 at 8:18 am

My wife and I adopted our Boy. I was very hesitant at first to consider adoption as an alternative to the fact we weren’t able to conceive naturally, and the story of how I came to embrace the idea and jump in with both feet and come home a year or so later with the best thing that’s ever happened to me, is a bit of a nerdy special story. Suffice to say, it involved my love of Star Wars, and the fictional culture of the Mandalorians from that universe. Now, I have instituted a tradition of a private little family signal of affection. We call it, “Bonk”, and it’s just a gentle head-butt, or simply touching foreheads. The Mandalorians call it a “Keldabe kiss”, imagine fierce warriors in armor with Boba Fett style helmets, smacking their foreheads together as a sign of family, clan, and strength. Now, even when A. isn’t particularly in a good mood, a “Bonk” lets him know that he’s loved, and usually leads to a good hug and snuggle. This has the added benefit of not being particularly embarrassing as my son gets older, and might not want his buddies seeing him be affectionate with his old man. It’s really cute and funny to see him go around and give bonks to everyone at bedtime, even our Lab.

I have tried this year to mark the astronomical days of seasonal importance as a semi-monthly tradition. My Dad instilled in me a sense of wonder and awe for the Universe and Astronomy, and I fondly remember many a fall and winter night as a boy spent with him bent over one of his telescopes. Now, I have tried to mark the solstices, equinoxes, and cross quarter days with a hike or a walk at least, and maybe a special fire or snack at sunset. As my little guy gets older, we’ll be able to make it a more robust tradition of marking the seasons outdoors, I hope.

I really like the idea of a Dad/Son weekly or monthly breakfast. I think I’ll try to make this happen as well. His Mom gets to spend all day with him, I see him the most on weekends and evening just before bed, because of my work schedule, and it sounds like a good thing to carve out some specific “guys only” time.

Thanks for this post, I really appreciate it.

21 Will October 17, 2013 at 8:21 am

Can’t help but smile, reading through something like this. And the comments so far are great, too. I look forward to checking back on this one to steal a few traditions for my up-and-coming family. :)

22 Ted October 17, 2013 at 8:38 am

One of our Christmas traditions: we each buy a small, inexpensive gift that will be difficult guess what it is. Then, with our last glass of egg nog after returning from midnight mass we play 20 questions. The point is to have fun thinking up something “special” and “dastardly” and then to get everyone in the Christmas spirit by actually getting to open the present early – but only if they guess what it is. It’s amazing how creative people can get when inspired. Over the years we have had a lot of fun and each of us looks forward to being the one to give something that can’t be figured out.

23 Jason Gaines October 17, 2013 at 8:41 am

We finish our our pumpkins in a much more exciting way.

Every year after Halloween we take all the pumpkins we have carved or used for decorations and use them for targets. My wife and I have a “blast” with this watching the pumpkins explode under gunfire. We take training serious (as we are instructors) but this one time per year it’s all about fun.

24 Bibli October 17, 2013 at 8:46 am

Every year we would watch the Kentucky Derby; before the race we would pick “our” horse out of a hat. Winner would get a wreath of plastic roses.

25 Matt Burleson October 17, 2013 at 8:59 am

Every Christmas morning – my family and I , before we are even allowed to open a present or look at a stocking, we read sing some praise and worship songs, read the christmas story and have communion.

26 Matt October 17, 2013 at 9:14 am

School related traditions.
Ask your kids to come home with the name of a new friend. It teaches them to get comfortable introducing themselves and helps any new transfer students feel welcome. In the case that your child is the transfer they become more comfortable around new people. This can even be carried on into the first years as a professional.

27 Shawn G October 17, 2013 at 9:23 am

For Christmas we do quite a bit tradition wise. We put up the Christmas tree on the first Sunday of Advent (typically the Sunday following Thanksgiving), hand stockings on St. Nicholas Day (Dec 6), use an Advent calendar that has scripture and candy for each day. The other tradition that we are starting this year because my daughter will be 2 and can actually understand presents now, is that she will get 4 presents total. 3 of which will be for her, and the 4th will be a gift to give someone else that she chooses (donating money to an organization, buying chickens for Heifer International, etc). We really want Christ to be celebrated during Christmas, and not make it all about presents and santa, so this is how we are doing it.

28 Larry Johnson October 17, 2013 at 9:36 am

We make a big deal about the first game of our favorite football team’s season. We make a special spread. Let the kids, who are still young, eat in the living room in front of the TV etc.

On Easter we do cascarones, a Mexican tradition. Children of all ages love to smash confetti filled eggs on another persons head. The little ones get special joy in being able to do this with mom, dad, grandma and grandpa.

I’m definitely going to be adding some from this list. great article

29 Grady October 17, 2013 at 9:38 am

A good friend of mine and his wife recently had a new home built. After the house was framed up they invited their friends over to pray with them in the home and the distributed Sharpies for people to write their favorite scriptures on the studs, the subfloor, even the ceiling. We are not superstitious and certainly don’t believe that this brings some kind of magical power over the house. But there is something nice about knowing that as his children walk into their rooms, the walls are literally filled with scriptures about God’d blessings over them.

30 Bob October 17, 2013 at 9:50 am

My family are not very religious, but we most closely associate with Buddhism. I have two young daughters (4 and 11 mos) and each night before dinner we ask our 4 year old to look at the food on her plate and name what is on it. Then we ask her to think about all of the steps that were put into the food coming to her plate and to thank all of the people who made it possible; the farmer, the picker, the person who drove the truck, the person who unloaded it, the person who stocked in on the shelf, the person who checked it out at the supermarket, and mom and dad for cooking it and providing it. This helps to make her more interconnected with and mindful of the world that she lives in, and reminds her parents as well.

31 Ethan October 17, 2013 at 10:13 am

Just a little tip for bedtime reading:

You can enhance your child’s experience by utilizing what’s called “Shared Story Book Reading”. This basically means you’re asking your child questions about the story: questions about vocabulary, questions testing for comprehension. Try utilizing this acronym when teaching vocabulary during shared storybook reading:
Say (say the word you want to focus on)
Explain (explain what word means)
Example (use the word in an example)
Repeat (have the child repeat the word with you)
Preread the books you’ll be reading with your child and pick out a couple of words to focus on (Tier 2 words: words that tend to have a simpler synonym and will challenge your child). I say a couple because you don’t want to halt the story every other sentence. That’ll frustrate your child and screw with the flow of the story.

This is just one tip, but an overall theme is that you don’t want reading with your child to be a “passive experience” . Try to find various ways to engage them and encourage their participation in commenting or answering questions during bedtime reading.

Some tips for you from a masters student in Clinical Speech-Language Pathology :)

32 Terrance October 17, 2013 at 10:21 am

My wife’s family holds a “Voting In” event for everyone who is marrying into the family. The last couple to get married hosts the next voting in. Sadly, since we got married 9 years ago, no one else has. At our voting in, my wife was almost voted out (all in fun, of course).

33 Brett October 17, 2013 at 10:44 am

My wife and I are not too big on letting our kids have tons of candy at Halloween. So, my wife recently found out that some dentists in our area will actually pay cash in exchange for candy (For example, 1 pound of candy = $1). The candy they collect is then sent over to our troops.

We are going to let our kids have some of their favorite and then take the rest to the dentist so they can have a little extra cash. You might check your area and see if some of the dentists offer something similar.

34 Andrew October 17, 2013 at 10:56 am

In the week before Christmas we do “Cookiepalooza”. The children of our family and friends gather to bake and decorate cookies.

35 Sebastian October 17, 2013 at 11:45 am

I think the biggest problem of today’s society in terms of family tradition is that nearly no family has lunch or dinner together. At least in Germany it is like that and I think in many other western countries too. They eat in their room, are on Facebook, watch TV and nobody knows what is going on in their lives. Somehow that’s sad…

36 TJ October 17, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Wonderful list. As a newlywed I have taken some of these and put them into my Evernote so I have them when the time comes. One tradition that my parents did that I will be bringing to my own children is the “Special Birthday”. It was a random day with no real significance where my mom would bring one of the kids breakfast in bed and that child got to choose where we ate for dinner and received a present. We never knew who or when it would be but it was a great way of making us feel special on “ordinary” days.

37 Marty Coleman, The Napkin Dad October 17, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Thanks for the mention guys! I appreciate the connection with my fellow Tulsans. m

38 Craig October 17, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Being part German, my family has always celebrated Saint Nicholas Day on December 6 by putting shoes by the fireplace the night before and getting a few extra presents in them before Christmas. Not a hard tradition for us to get used to as kids.

39 Donbon October 17, 2013 at 1:10 pm

We adopted our daughter from Russia and while there we bought presents for every year until she’s eighteen. Every adoption day we celebrate it like a birthday but the only present is one from Russia.

40 SoloRio October 17, 2013 at 1:51 pm

I didn’t have my dad around for long, but I was surprised to remember all the traditions he did with me when he was there. These last two articles have definitely brought back fond memories of himand god willing/forbid I should end up with some spawn of my own: I will incorporate the traditions he shared with me and take some new ones I have learned from you guys.

Thank you and keep up the good work.

41 Tommy October 17, 2013 at 2:16 pm

I don’t like most of the things you listed – I understand that your kids are small now, but my guess is that you will have to change the traditions as they grow older – did you want to go shopping weekly with your parents when you were a teen? Heck did you want to spend so much time with them?

I sure didn’t.

42 Avery October 17, 2013 at 2:40 pm

What a wonderful idea for a blog post. This one should stay on the front page for some weeks to come!

43 Jim Collins October 17, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Esteemed Brett, Kate, and Readers,

Perhaps prayer isn’t the best word for what we do — maybe convocation avoids confusion; the tradition of prayer doesn’t depend on a religious devotion. The effect of ritually and solemnly naming our setting, our thankfulness, our hopes, and our love has value even for ice-atheists such as myself as by so doing we affirm our values and aspirations.

Respectfully,

Jim Collins

44 Sakura October 17, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Growing up we had little parties on the summer and winter solstice and the fall/spring equinoxes. Nothing religious but just to mark those milestones in the year. Summer solstice you can have a big bonfire late into the evening. Winter solstice was like an early Christmas party. Spring equinox was a quasi Chinese new year tea party. Fall equinox was a find of harvest party.

45 Nick October 17, 2013 at 4:20 pm

One of my favorites is celebrating Burns Night. It’s a Scottish holiday in which we gather with other Scotch families at a local pub, eat haggis, and recite poetry by Robert Burns. I love that it reminds my children of their roots and they get to learn from the great moralist Burns

46 Brandon October 17, 2013 at 5:16 pm

The buttering the nose thing isn’t from Nova Scotia its from Prince Edward Island .

47 Timothy October 17, 2013 at 5:59 pm

My extended family has had a tradition of going camping every Summer somewhere here in Oregon, and it goes several generations back. I found out recently that my Dad has gone camping every year of his life. With his parents getting older and in poor health, this year was the first time they didn’t plan a trip. I decided this tradition was too special and integral to our family identity to be forgotten. So this year I took the reins of carrying on this tradition and planned a simple, two-day camping trip with my dad. Though I’m single and don’t have kids, it felt incredibly manly to choose to take on this tradition. I look forward to sharing this tradition with my future family so they can know the joy of setting up a home in the woods, having coffee and fried eggs in the morning, and poking the fire with a stick well into the night.

48 lady brett October 17, 2013 at 6:44 pm

similar to what bob said above, we do “thanks” before every meal and thank the people, animals, and things that brought that meal to us (the pig for bacon, the chicken for eggs, the farmer, the sunshine, the farmworker, the cook, etc.)

also, it’s funny what you remember of traditions – the thing i remember most about christmas growing up isn’t the presents: it’s that we had to sit at the top of the stairs until my folks’ coffee was ready, then we could come down and open presents!

49 Daniel October 17, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Kids Birthdays: Surprising the child with the birthday theme (pirates, superheroes, knights, ninjas, etc), which they discover on the morning of the birthday through decorations and the cake.

4th of July: Read the Declaration of Independence aloud.

Chinese New Year: Deep housecleaning the day before. Draw Fu (Spring) on red paper and hang them upside-down around the house for good luck. Wear red clothes, give out lucky money envelopes, and eat Chinese food on the first day of Chinese New Year.

50 Will Dole October 17, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Cider pressing parties in the fall are fun. A little bit of an investment to get a chopper and press (plus apples if you don’t have access to free ones), but oh so worth it for the fun…and the cider. And even little kids can help.

51 Rob October 18, 2013 at 11:45 am

We’re part Swedish, so the presents are usually opened on Christmas Eve. After the unwrapping, we all slyly start gathering the wrapping paper and start scrunching it into balls. When the oldest person at the gathering deems it ready, a wrapping paper fight erupts for the whole family. It makes clean-up a breeze too, as we just shoot baskets into the trash.

52 Joshua October 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm

For Catholic, “New Home Dedication” ceremonies are extremely important. For those who don’t know, we Consecrate our homes to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

A priest prays a formal blessing over the family, the home itself and blesses a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is placed in a prominent place in the home for proper veneration. As Our Lord Jesus Christ said to St. Margaret Mary: “I will bless those places wherein the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.” – 9th Promise of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

53 Joshua October 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm

The list doesn’t include a yearly attending of State Fairs and local festivals! Ocktoberfest and the Renaissance Festival are my two personal favorites. Well, anything with a theme…and beer!

54 Rebecca October 18, 2013 at 5:31 pm

My two kids have always had very different tastes in books. When they were old enough to want longer stories, it was impossible to read to them both individually or together. We started doing family “read-overs”, where we all crawl into someone’s bed (we take turns) and read to ourselves for a half hour. or more. We enjoy just being together and I think it also sets a good example of being a life long reader.Sometimes there is more giggling than reading going on, but it is all to the good.

55 Trent October 18, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Great post. My family has a couple of these down pat. I like the barbershop one a lot. Great idea.

56 Steve October 18, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Some hunting traditions I’ve heard of are a spot of blood on the forehead for a hunter’s first deer, and the last meal: placing a sprig of vegetation in the mouth of a downed animal.

57 Jonathan October 19, 2013 at 12:47 pm

This article got me choked up and almost brought a tear thinking about all the traditions my father and I did. It’s also amazing to think about all the traditions when I have children and how amazing the time would be together. Thank you for this article.

58 jvs October 19, 2013 at 12:54 pm

When my 3rd child (a boy) was about 5, he liked arm wrestling me and we decided that every year on his birthday, we would arm wrestle until the year comes that he can beat me. He’s 7 now and he thinks he needs about 20 more years to beat me!

I also really enjoy audio books of great childrens’ literature. Each of my kids has their own story that I listen to with them when I’m driving them to a sports game or a lesson or running errands. It’s a small thing, but it’s something they all look forward to when they’re with me and it’s just a regular part of our weekly routine.

59 Jaron Ballard October 19, 2013 at 2:27 pm

We’ve started the tradition of setting fire to our Christmas Tree on New Year’s Eve down at the beach. We’ll do it with a few other families to get a huge fireball going. I like the idea of incorporating the burning of regrets into this. THANK YOU!

60 John Luby October 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm

My parents on Christmas morning would let us 3 kids go through the stockings before my parents got up. Then Dad would cook breakfast before opening presents. Well,that meal had “Christmas cube steak”. Toughest piece of meat you could possibly give to a kid,of course we had to finish that shoe leather before leaving the dinning room. It’s one tradition I could not continue.

61 Josh October 20, 2013 at 3:21 pm

My family has started a Christmas story-esque tradition by getting take out Chinese food on Christmas Eve night. We also enjoy my late grandmother’s homemade Chicago-Style Italian Beef Sandwiches on a regular basis.

62 FeatherBlade October 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I really enjoyed the “Date with Daddy” tradition when I was growing up. Dad would take each of us kids out to the mall, and buy us a treat and spend some time at the video arcade. Sometimes it was one-on-one, and sometimes he would take two of us out at a time.

The best part (from my parents’ perspective) is that they could then go out on dates, and if we whined (as kids are wont to do), they could say to us “You had your date with Dad, now it’s Mom’s turn.” ^_^

63 Steve October 21, 2013 at 8:39 pm

One of my favorite traditions was cold pizza night. When my mom was going back to college, every thursday night my dad would make a frozen pizza for the three of us while my mom was at her night class. The pizza was usually burnt, but my sister and I always loved those nights with our dad.

64 Pike October 22, 2013 at 11:34 am

As a Lions fan I have to say that watching them lose is kind of a tradition. I want them to win, I really do, but when they did in 2003 it upset me a little bit

65 Paul Maffesoli October 22, 2013 at 10:18 pm

One day my Detroit Lions will WIN on Thanksgiving

66 Conner October 23, 2013 at 2:48 pm

One I always loved growing up was going to Scottish festivals. We’ve started taking my 2-year-old son now, and he’s learning to enjoy the wail of the pipes and the long hair of the Highland coo’.

67 Luke October 23, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Pete’s rant

We have the danish tradition that on christmas eve we eat a rice pudding with an almond in for good luck (and a prize). Pete has “never” got it and has up to a half hour rant about this.

It is now part of Christmas and must happen! Last year he sang a song :)

68 Craig October 23, 2013 at 4:30 pm

It’s a long story, but the best family tradition I ever started was the Easter Iguana. He would bring hardware to good little children Easter morning. They loved it, and when they were ready to leave the nest, they had a complete tool kit.

69 Eduardo from Brazil October 24, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Brilliant article. I’m from Brazil and I love this blog. Family values ​​and references made ​​in this article make me believe how universal are the family values​​. My sincere congratulations to the author for making us remember what really matters!

70 Gwen October 25, 2013 at 11:23 am

Man, I can’t wait until we have kids. :)

A note on the Easter scavenger hunt, though!

My parents used to hide my Easter basket somewhere in the house the night before Easter, and it was great. But one spring, we were having a really bad ant problem… and when I found my basket, it was swarming with ants who were just LOVING all the sugar open to the air. If you’re likely to have this problem, maybe packaged treats are the way to go. :)

71 Jean October 28, 2013 at 1:49 am

When the children were young we had Christmas Eve parties with carol singing and Father Christmas arriving as it grew dusk. My children carried on the tradition and it is so very special.

72 Chrissy Tan October 29, 2013 at 9:45 am

Has anyone mentioned exercise together? Months ago puchased a stretchable band online. We get another one among us to do the exercise after we are done. Show them the movements you done and see if they can do the same. Helps to check whether your dear old one show any early signs of joint pain.

73 Brett Clemmer October 30, 2013 at 10:54 am

My son got jealous of our Daddy-Daughter Dates, so we added Father-Son Adventures. Same rules. And a lot of great experiences and memories.

74 chris October 30, 2013 at 11:36 pm

The saturday after Thanksgiving we always have a very nicy meal and then we put up the Christmas tree and decorations. Then we end the night with a family movie.

75 Keegan November 3, 2013 at 2:52 am

I grew up with an Easter tree. On Easter Sunday, we go outside and find the perfect dead branch on the ground (plenty to choose from this time of year). Then we bring it inside and make our Easter tree. The whole point is to make it fun. I typically “plant” the “tree” in a coffee tin with a whole bunch of shredded paper “grass” and other stuff to keep it standing upright (have the kids engineer it). Then we decorate it with stickers, plastic eggs, pieces of nature from outside, and generally anything else that you can come up with. We then keep it as a centrepiece on the kitchen table until we deem it time to get rid of. Usually we end up burning the branch in the fire pit or fireplace.

76 Abigail November 18, 2013 at 10:55 am

Our family almost always eats meals together, and someone always asks the blessing on the meal. Every night after dinner, even if we have guests over, we gather for what we call “family worship” where we have a small lesson from the Bible, sing a hymn, and pray together.

On Thanksgiving, Dad and a couple other kids will go turkey hunting in the morning, while Mom and I get started on the meal. We’ll often have friends over for the meal who don’t have family in the area to celebrate with. After the dinner, we’ll pull out the .22′s and pistols and shoot at targets and soda cans in the back yard.

Because we don’t celebrate Christmas, we’ve made a tradition of giving gifts at Thanksgiving instead. Around Christmas, my grandparents will take the whole family out to dinner.

My dad and I would go hunting together quite often, ever since I could walk. Mom would always pack a lunch and a couple Thermos bottles of coffee and tea. Thus, I started drinking coffee very young as the only other choice was tea. Finding a bottle of hot chocolate instead was a huge treat. Whenever we would drive to our second hunting property in another county, we would stop for dinner on the way back at a little place called Carl’s. To this day, once hunting season starts, I get a terrible craving for a Carl’s burger. When I got old enough to hunt on my own, as we would walk to our separate stands, Dad would always tell me “Go get ‘em, Tiger.” Last week I got to go hunting again for the first time in a couple of years. It meant the world to me, when once again, he gave me a pat on the shoulder and said, “Go get em, Tiger.”

We also had storytime ever afternoon with Mom where she would read a chapter or two of a book to us, often from The Chronicles of Narnia. And, when I was young, I would stay up very late at night with dad, drinking coffee and talking about politics and current events in the world (Mom was horrified that I, at age 12, was staying up so late and drinking coffee!). Good times, and I miss them a lot now that I’ve moved out of the house.

77 Hugh November 26, 2013 at 9:41 pm

When my son was 5 years old he was confused by “Black History Month.” He’s White (or as his generation says, “blond skinned.”)

So, I brought him to the Scottish Games to show him what our family history was.

It was the best thing I ever did. My sister now brings her photography from Scotland and sets up a tent.

He saw the “Sgian Dubh” knives in the socks of the men in the Highland dress, and wanted to wear the knife.

I told him, “You can’t wear the knife, unless you wear the kilt.” And, he easily agreed to wear a kilt.

This past year, he wanted to wear a kilt for his fourth grade school picture, and we had to tell him “no.”

We’re now both learning the snare drum together to march in a Scottish Pipe and Drum Band. Don’t ask how that happened – I don’t know.

But, I know his grandfather would be proud – and that’s enough.

78 David December 4, 2013 at 7:07 am

Love the article and the traditions from others!!

One of our Christmas tradition started when my kids were all little and my in-laws would come visit. It continues with them as teenagers (and my widowed m-i-l lives with us).

We have a Christmas morning treasure hunt. In our case, the clues are a short poem or limerick, and a (sometimes, loosely) related bible verse the kids look up, both of which hint at a location in our home. I *used* to have the kids find their own gifts, but now it all about the hunt and we just go round robin and find the next gift on the list. The finder gives the gift and gets to read the next hint for the next ‘finder’.

Here’s an example…

RHYME: For pizza, toast, and nick nack snacks, this is just the thing. And when your treat is ready, it even has a bell to ring.

VERSE: Leviticus 7:9 — And every grain offering baked in the oven and all that is prepared on a pan or a griddle shall belong to the priest who offers it.

LOCATION: TOASTER OVEN in KITCHEN

Our kids now have their own lists with hints and clues for the gifts they have purchased. It gets fun (and challenging) to think of new hints and hiding places when we’ve been in the same place for awhile now.

79 Gustavo Solivellas January 13, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Hi there! I usually love your posts and share them everywhere, but I must complain about this one for two things: 1. Going to a cemetery to tell ghost stories? That is a total lack of respect for the deceased! And 2, “during the night, a wizard comes and swaps their candy for a gift”? Lying to your hildren is a lack of respect to them :(

80 Brian February 20, 2014 at 12:09 pm

You are the first person other than my wife/in-laws who I’ve heard mention egg wars as a tradition. (Except they call it ‘egg butting’.) My kids LOVE it! When all of the cousins are together it’s a mass chaos of ‘Who has an egg?’ (Kate must be from east Baltimore or of Czech/Bohemian decent…)

We recently moved, so the time capsule idea is something I’ll initiate when we hit the 1 year mark (in May).

Monthly Goal Box goal #1 – begin the monthly goal tradition!

Excellent list!

81 Mitch March 17, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Today it is the 17th, my first son is due the 19th. This is awesome, almost brought a tear to my eye seeing the handshake thing. My dad was a single father, and since day 1 we had a secret handshake. I may have to pass it along, really helped us through the hard times.

I love this website.

82 Beryl March 18, 2014 at 8:57 am

Great traditions that need to be a part of all families.

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