Just hearing the word Tradition makes me see and hear Tevye and the Fiddler on the Roof song of the same name.
So what is tradition?
“A tradition is a belief or behavior passed down within a group orsociety with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past…The English word "tradition"comes from the Latin traditio, the noun from the verb traderere or tradere (totransmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping).”
We automatically assume that traditions are based in religious or cultural origins and perhaps that was the earliest intent. Traditions provided a form of stability knowing that “this is the way it’s always been done”. A set manner of doing things was handed down from generation to generation and of course there were little variances as each new generation interpreted the purpose as it fit into their current lives. Following tradition takes some of the hard decision making out of our hands, it helps point us in the direction we need to go.
Today the term tradition can refer to less-aged habits – the routine yearly family reunion, the regular candlelit anniversary dinner, the customary college graduation gift and more. Our reminiscences can make our traditions: Sitting and watching the Friday Night Fights with my dad as a child became a tradition; Vacationing at the Jersey shore every summer was a family tradition; and My mom hosting Thanksgiving dinner surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins was a tradition. Traditions are a way of holding on to something of the past, often it was something that “worked” or left us with warm memories.
“As people are walking all the time, in the same spot, a path appears.”
~ John Locke
~ John Locke
The beauty of our diverse society allows us to see many of our traditions melding together and sometimes forming new ones. We have a chance to learn from others and adapt. I recently heard someone quip about a cultural event (from another culture) as “not traditional”. I laughed. Our comfortable traditions that we grew up with aren’t traditional for other cultures either, it’s like who really is speaking with an accent, it all depends on who is listening.
If you ever have the opportunity to attend an inter-faith ceremony, go to it; you will get to see an exquisite demonstration of blended traditions — and in the end, it all still works out for the best.