Traditions go back centuries in the way people celebrate, mourn, or gather around a table. Some customs are followed by millions, but many are private conventions that sparked within singular families, taking tradition to a deeper, more meaningful level.
While some of the following stories are centered around the holidays, these families take spending time a touch farther and it will warm your heart.
10. Keep on baking
“Every Christmas Eve when my siblings and I were little, my mom would bake sugar cookies. We would all sit at the table and decorate them before we rushed off to bed, anxiously awaiting Santa Claus’s arrival. Today, we’re all in our twenties and still like to decorate cookies with our parents on Christmas Eve; we’ve even roped our significant others into it! It’s a great tradition that brings us all together — we haven’t missed a year since we started.”
9. Turkey soup for everyone
“My father isn’t really one to cook, but every year on the day after Thanksgiving he makes a huge pot of turkey soup from the leftover turkey. He’s in the kitchen all day stirring and tasting and seasoning. It’s the cutest thing! When my mom and I arrive home after a day of Black Friday shopping, we’re treated to a nice dinner of soup and Thanksgiving leftovers. It isn’t the day after Thanksgiving without my dad’s turkey soup!”
“I studied abroad in England where I lived in a hotel with many other exchange students from all over the world. Because this was my fall semester, it meant I wasn’t home in the US for Thanksgiving. In lieu of the traditional American meal, one of my flatmates suggested a potluck Friendsgiving, where each of us would prepare food from our respective countries. We ended up having Wiener schnitzel, chicken made in a distinctly African style, Brussels sprouts, chicken pot pie, and snag, which is an Australian sausage. I may have not had turkey that evening, but I was able to experience a wide array of food from a number of different cultures.”
7. A day to remember
“One unseasonably warm evening when my partner and I were hosting Easter dinner, we decided to move things out to our deck. After dinner, we made our way back inside to gather around the table for dessert with our parents, my daughter, and a couple of our family members. My partner left the table for a moment, and when he came back upstairs, he asked me to be his wife!”
6. A quant New Years
“Every New Year’s Eve, my family cooks a Salvadoran turkey and we make sandwiches with French bread, radish, and curtido. We gather in the TV room and eat our sandwiches while watching movies together. No friends, no extended family — just the four of us (and our dogs!).”
5. Duck, Duck, Geese?
“Every year at Christmas, my family has goose and potato filling. My parents always roast a goose and we always use the same potato filling recipe — one that’s been passed down through generations.
“Incidentally, our family was big on A Christmas Carol, in which Bob Cratchit’s children bang their silverware on the table and chant ‘goose, goose, goose!’ Well, seeing as we loved our geese dinners as well, my siblings and I began chanting the same thing at a young age. We’re now in our twenties, and the tradition is still going strong.”
4. Sunday dinner
“Every Sunday growing up, my grandparents would host a Sunday dinner, which included each of their children and grandchildren. It was a tradition passed down from when they came to the States from Poland; it was derived from the tradition of getting together and spending time with one another after church. Foods such as chrusciki and cabbage rolls are served, and it’s a great opportunity to catch up with one another.”
3. An international Christmas
“I will never forget my family’s first Christmas in the US after moving here from Mexico. We couldn’t go back to Mexico because of my parents’ work schedules, but my mom still wanted to make it a special day. So we all gathered and helped her make hundreds of tamales, buñuelos, empanadas, and other traditional Mexican dishes eaten around Christmas. The house smelled and felt just like it had every other Christmas in Mexico. Some of my relatives actually ended up making it to our house, and I think that was the first time since we had moved that I felt like the US could be my new home.”
2. Making time when life gets busy
“My boyfriend and I live together, and both of us work extra shifts. I work mornings, while he works nights. The best days are when we finally have time off together. The night before a day off, he’ll cook an amazing dinner and we’ll watch a movie while eating and talking about our day. It may seem small, but it’s our private time together where no one bothers us.”
“Every Christmas, my grandfather — whom we called Papa — would make eggnog. For this very reason, my sister and I grew up calling it ‘Papanog.’ Years after he had passed away, our mother got us store-bought eggnog. We were maybe 12 at the time, and we noticed it tasted awfully similar to our beloved ‘Papanog.’ Initially, we assumed that eggnog companies had stolen our grandfather’s recipe. It wasn’t until a full year later that we realized our grandfather had just been making regular eggnog.”
What family traditions do you find you can’t live without? And if you don’t have one, perhaps some of these will spark new ideas.
Let us know in the comments!