While modern mobility may mean that distance keeps members of a family apart, more – and younger – members of many families across the country are finding significance in their heritage, and making it come alive in their own ways. Special family and cultural traditions can strengthen family bonds, provide a sense of belonging and connect the present day to a richer history. Whether tied to holidays or unique meaningful moments, gathering in together helps a family have fun and create new memories. Here are a few ways you can explore and celebrate your own family traditions.
1. Identify your family’s origins and cultural heritage. With the increasing popularity of DNA kits and family websites, more people are exploring their family origins than ever before. Whether you speak with older members of your family to learn more about your background, send off your DNA in a box or explore a genealogy website – or a combination of the three – now is a great time to explore where you and your spouse or significant other’s families came from.
2. Create a family tree to share with your parents, siblings and extended family. Maybe other relatives can help fill in some of the missing pieces. Talk about what these discoveries mean to all of you, and how they help you better understand some of your family’s traditions, traits and habits. Create a photo album, collage board or scrapbook to commemorate what you’re learning about your family tree. This will be a great gift to leave your children and grandchildren someday.
3. Become a tourist of your origin countries. Whether you can travel to one or more of your origin countries for real or just become an armchair tourist, for the time being, find out more about the country or countries your ancestors came from. Taste some food and wine from that region, explore the art and music of that area of the world, immerse yourself in a craft or learn to play a traditional game or sport – like bocce ball if you’re Italian – to help you identify with your origins.
4. Rediscover traditions from your family’s past and recreate them. Talk to your parents, grandparents and other elders in your family who can tell you stories about the traditions and celebrations that may have fallen by the wayside during our busy, less connected modern lives. Look through photo albums and family memorabilia and see if you can recreate a family tradition to bring the newer generations that sense of history and continuity.
5. Develop new family traditions. What could be better than enjoying a weekly or monthly dinner with your family, serving the food and drinks that are part of your family’s heritage?
Learning about family and history is all about making connections with those people who are most meaningful to you. What better way to use what you learn about your heritage than to turn it into an opportunity to gather together and celebrate where you came from and where you’re going.
Courtesy of BPT.