Holy night, silent night. Joy to the world, the lord is come?!
We all know these lyrics and almost everyone loves them at Christmas time. Every year at the same time they are brought out again. Even the very young know them, so that we can pass this knowledge on from generation to generation. This is how traditions are created. But of course, not only the carols are part of our Christmas tradition. Our traditions also include the Christmas tree, presents, an Advent calendar or an Advent wreath, among other things. This list can certainly be extended forever. There are many things that can be a tradition. And not only at Christmas.
Once is coincidence, twice is a repetition and with the third time it is a tradition.
Traditions are rather the opposite of change and upheaval. They tend to be static and unchanging. To be honest, I find that very refreshing. Traditions give us support, ground us and give us a sense of security and control. After all, a tradition only becomes a tradition when an event is repeated several times in the same way. My fiancé always says “Once is coincidence, twice is repetition and with the third time it’s a tradition.” For example, in our circle of friends we have established an Advent breakfast that always takes place at the same couple’s home. This year for the fourth time in a row, but this year each at their own home via video conference. So definitely already a tradition that we continue even in times of Corona. Well, and if you know that something specific is happening at a certain time, you can prepare for it, plan for it and feel anticipation. Even though it’s a little different this year, it’s still our Advent breakfast with the same people as every year. I look forward to that already.
The meditative anchor of anticipation and planning
In a world where everything is changing rapidly right now and where things are beyond our control, traditions are an important anchor. They can help us get through times when our fabulousity has been thrown out of balance because external circumstances are not what we want them to be. Especially when a lot of things are changing, we are busy trying to keep up and adopt new behaviours and patterns that help us cope better with the new situation. We all know that this can be quite exhausting and can take up a lot of energy. We usually associate traditions with positive emotions, so we look forward to them. As a result, they symbolise a light at the end of the tunnel for us, because we know that in the foreseeable future we will experience something beautiful again. Depending on the tradition at hand and what is being experienced, it can also help us to regain our focus on the essentials and to recognise what is really important. Besides anticipation, planning also plays a big role. We have already experienced most traditions many times and know their sequence quite well. As a result, we know exactly what has to be done when, how and where so that it is the way it always is. This planning gives us security because we know “This is how we’ve always done it, so this is how we’ll do it again.” Because that’s how it worked well the years before. So we know with a fair amount of certainty what’s going to happen. And sometimes that’s a good thing. Surprises are all well and good, but when your whole life currently consists more or less of surprises, a bit of consistency is not so bad. Moreover, for me personally, preparation and planning for a tradition also have something meditative about them. Since I know exactly how it should be done and what I need, I don’t have to think much about the preparation and can devote myself completely to the task. This allows me to focus my mind on something I know and am familiar with. So traditions also offer us distraction.
If necessary: Create your own fabulous traditions.
There are traditions that do not necessarily evoke anticipation and feelings of happiness. For some, Christmas may simply be a horror. But then that’s also a tradition in a way, isn’t it? No, but let’s be serious. Just because a tradition is a tradition doesn’t mean that you should necessarily stick to it. As with everything, the same applies to traditions: only do what is good for you. If feasting at Christmas is a nuisance to you, then don’t do it. Cook something that suits you and tastes good. Try out a new recipe every year or take turns cooking in the family. This can also be a tradition. Just because we’ve always done something this way doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Try to find the traditions for you that you would like to repeat. Then you will feel anticipation, be able to give yourself fully to the planning and be grounded by the tradition.
And what if there isn’t a tradition you like? Simple: Create your own fabulous tradition.
I look forward to hearing from you about which traditions you love? What do traditions mean to you? Feel free to write a comment here or send me an email directly.