Family Rituals Contain Identity Messages



Well, it’s that time of year again.  Time for families

to come together and repeat the traditions that remind us who

we are, who we belong to, the proper ways to do things.

Shared rituals carry powerful messages about our

membership in social groups, not just the family but the

community at large as well.

There are two ways that family rituals develop.  Some

are handed down through the generations and become important

links to extended family groups who observe the ritual in

similar fashion.  In our mobile society, these observances

are more important than ever to family identity as they

may be the only occasions when we communicate in depth or

visit with relatives outside our nuclear families.

Other traditions develop as the result of events,

successes, and special moments within a nuclear family group.

These spontaneous rituals may have meaning only for those

living under the same roof but still carry stong messages

about who we are and how we do things.

Holiday celebrations may contain aspects of both.  In

young families designing rituals can be a challenge.  When

spouses come from families with strong and engrained

traditions of how things should be done, there can be a bit

of contention about how the new family should observe the

holidays.  How elaborate the preparations, how much to spend

on gifts, how much religion to incorporate, what foods to

serve, how much visiting to do and with whom, even what sort

of Christmas tree to have, all these must be decided somehow.

When a couple marries, their family traditions come with

them.  They must find a way to blend, select or create

rituals together that work for them and that feel right.

Much of this will be done unconsciously and without effort.

But some may involve struggle and negotiation.

However a ritual develops, its regular repetition will

contribute to a sense of belonging, stability, predictability

and the right way to do things in our family.  In this world,

we need it.

From my family to yours, here’s hoping your holidays are

full of love, togetherness and good cheer.




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