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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

November 15, 2022 - 8:53am --

If you asked your children to finish this sentence “At Thanksgiving, we always...” what do you think they would say?  I’m sure some would mention their favorite food, and some the parade or football game on the TV, but if you’ve ever really wondered what your family traditions are, this is a great way to identify them. 

Traditions and rituals are the fabric that hold families together during challenging times.  The fun times and fond memories from childhood have been shown to increase social emotional protective factors and possibly reduce disease and risk factors in adults.  Additional benefits include higher quality of work, satisfaction of better relationships and lower possibilities of mental health issues.  There’s research that also shows increased feelings of bonding in families and all-around well-being for family members. 

Happy Memories Make for a Healthier Body

The American Psychological Association indicates that happy memories can affect our overall health and the ability to manage adversity throughout life.  The group shares that when we “savor a positive memory, senses were engaged, and the emotion associated with the memory was experienced.”

Penn State University research shares that both routines and rituals hold important roles in maintaining structure and cohesion within the lives of the family members. Family routines and rituals provide a sense of rhythm to all family members, especially developing children.  Routines such as reading a book or having a bedtime routine help children develop skills and offer parents and caregivers important one-on-one time with children.  Family routines like mealtime or travel conversations give family members time to talk about the good and the bad from the day and develop coping strategies in a safe environment.

We have daily rituals in our lives like waking up and getting to work or school in the morning, the meals we eat together, the activities that we enjoy and the bedtime routines we’ve established to help us wind down at the end of the day.  Those routines provide stability for family members, they know what to expect and when to expect it. Sometimes we don’t realize how important these routines are until we don’t practice them and then feel out of sorts, or unable to accomplish tasks in the way we usually do them. 

Traditions Strengthen the Family Bond

Family traditions are created activities, year after year that embrace gathering of family members and strengthening relationships.  Children come to expect these activities from year to year as they are unique to each family.  They give members a strong sense of belonging to a greater group and help with identity and where we’ve come from.  Traditions also help families reinforce the importance of values and the things that are important to them while offering security through the years as children grow and understand. The family stories from generation to generation can be kept and tie them to their history while allowing the flexibility to change as needed through the years. 

As we enter the holiday season, have a conversation with your family, what are they looking forward to and what might they like to change?  What plans are needed to make these events happen and what might we alter for all generations to participate?

As you ponder these questions don’t forget the importance of gathering together to celebrate your family. 


Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or

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This article was previously published in The Daily Record.