Many rituals and traditions are associated with the celebration of Christmas. Whether it be the decorating of the tree, carolling, or a church service, most of us part-take in activities that mark the event as a time for reflection, celebration, and above all engagement with family. It is here that true meaning is created as each family constructs its own unique rituals that continue to bring joy across generations.
Why are family rituals important?
Family rituals help us to feel a part of something that is strong and ongoing. They create a team bond between family members known as “family identity”. As activities are systematically repeated over time, rituals stabilise family identity by clarifying family member roles, setting boundaries within and outside the family, and establish rules that say “this is how our family is”.
Children: Rituals are important for children in creating a sense of stability and consistency. This helps a child feel safe, wanted, and contained. They learn that some things in life are predictable and can be reliably looked forward to. They learn that they play a certain role in fulfilling the ritual and take enjoyment in knowing they are part of “how our family is”.
Teenagers: Rituals help bridge the road from childhood to adulthood. Even when everything else is changing within and around them, teenagers can rely on and look forward to something predictable in which they understand their role. It offers them an opportunity to rekindle their relationships with family if they have been distant or rebellious and remember fondly their days of childhood perhaps softening some of those hard emotions.
Adults: Adults and particularly parents swell with pride as they recreate the traditions they experienced as a child. This is an opportunity to show the next generation “how things are done”. By putting a unique spin on a tradition, parents can also take joy in knowing how they have contributed to their own children’s pleasant memories.
Elderly or grandparents: Finally, rituals allow the elderly or grandparents to connect with younger generations. They have an opportunity to pass on their wisdom and take comfort in knowing that “how things are done” will continue to be done by future generations.
So however you celebrate Christmas, enjoy the knowledge that what you do is important in the psychological continuation of your family and connecting the generations. You’re creating a sense of love, personal and family pride, and a sense of belonging that no one else can give.
Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.