Passing Holiday Family Traditions to Our Children

Passing on family holiday customs and traditions to our kids is so important, but yet so often neglected and ultimately lost as our lives become more and more hectic this time of the year.  Because family holiday traditions tend to bring together ever so closely family ties, I believe we must make an effort to continue and pass these traditions on to our children and they, more than likely, will pass them on to their children.  Family holiday traditions help to keep us grounded as to who we are, where we came from, and take us back to our family’s roots. 

My children are a second generation United States born Cubans and to them Christmas means more than holiday shopping and gifts on Christmas Day.  To them it means the ever so looked forward to Christmas Eve family get together at my parents house where the entire family gets together.  We start gathering early in the day cooking, watching the kids play, dancing to some good Latin music, and the highlight of the day, the roasting of the pig.  We get to see those who live far away and we haven’t seen in a while, we catch up on family’s important events and accomplishments and gives us an opportunity to create more memories that will last a lifetime.  We also continue to celebrate the Three Kings Day on January 6th, a much lost tradition amongst Hispanics who, maybe while trying to assimilate into the American way of life forgot that this was THE day that Hispanic/Latin children received gifts during the Christmas season.

Since I can remember, my parents always had family gatherings which included friends also, on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.  Before my parents, my parents’ parents would have the same family gatherings during Christmas, and today my children as well as nieces and nephews, and my cousin’s children look forward to continuing this tradition.  I believe it has been key in making our family such a close family, especially in a time where families scatter about and rarely ever see each other, if at all.

America is a great big melting pot made up of people whose ancestors have come from all parts of the world.  Other than American Indians, who have a very rich heritage, Americans are, in fact, a people with a vast variety of customs and traditions that have been passed on to them from generation to generation and must not be forgotten.  I believe that it is all part of teaching our children to be proud of their heritage.  The same way people would say “Oh, I’m half Irish, half Dutch”, it should be as easy for them to teach their children some of those Irish and Dutch traditions which play a significant role in making them who they are today.    

If we don’t teach our children the importance of holiday family traditions, we are neglecting to teach them an important part about who their grandparents, and the grandparents’ parents were, because as much as we may not realize it, all these grandparents and great-grandparents have influenced their lives in one way or another without even knowing it.

So, this Christmas season put things into perspective, make the effort and take the time to share with your children some of the old customs and traditions of your family, explaining what these customs and traditions mean, how they were started, and the importance of carrying these forward for generations to come.  While embracing new traditions (and possibly starting new ones) let us never forget where we came from, especially during Christmas!    FELIZ NAVIDAD!

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Thomas Gordon
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Posted on Sep 2, 2009