American Traditions____Alive Or Dead?
December 28, 2008 6:18pm CST
There are some countries where traditions die hard (if at all). If you are reading this, and you are in a country where traditions are strong, I congratulate you. However, in America, I'm beginning to see some very disturbing signs that traditions (whether a family creation, or one which is historical in nature)are beginning to have no meaning. For more than a decade, our immediate family had a tradition of being together at our house (the grandparents) during Christmas eve where we opened our gifts after reading the Christmas story (usually read by one of the children). Of course we ate, played games, and generally enjoyed each other's company. This year was different and I believe the children were the first to recognize what was happening. It only took one suggestion by one family member to change everything. The suggestion was to change the venue to another home. No one wanted to step up and say, "no, we will not break tradition," for fear of hurting some one's feelings. As a result, fewer family members came and the atmosphere was noticeably different. The first one to express her true feelings was one of the younger grandchildren. Have you ever felt that the traditions which are strictly American have begun to die? Can you even name some of them? I'm ashamed to say that, as I sit here, I cannot name even one strictly American tradition other than July 4th and Thanksgiving. Those holidays are obviously still around, but have they been corrupted in some way? Does your family have a personal tradition which has somehow changed?
29 Dec 08
I am an anthropologist, and traditions and their creation are an important part of my area of study. Traditons change. They change very slowly, which is what makes the difference between a tradition and a trend, but they do change. The culture changes with time, with social, economic, political, scientific, and spiritual developments. Eventually the traditions become irrelevant to the changed culture, and fade away. Some people find this very difficult to cope with. At its worst, the failure to change, the inflexibility of mind that refuses to accept change, becomes fundamentalism,. and some people will go to drastic extremes in their attempts to retain outdated traditions. But even those of us with the flexibility to accept the changes can regret the passing of our treasured traditions. And even one as radical as I am ses some traditions that might need saving, if only in altered form. I'm not American, so I can't comment on your traditions. But an example of change here is in our Anzac Day ceremonmies. Intially the annual Anzac Day march, celebrating the courage of Audtralian and New Zealand forces, origianlly in WWI but later embracing WWII, was only for returned soldiers from those wars. Over the last fifty years the tradition has changed to include those from the Korean, Vietnma, and more recently Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The reason for those changes is simple and acceptable: there are no soldiers left from WWI to march, and even WWII soldiers are disappearing now. But greater changes have occurred: the children of soldiers are now allowed to march. Those are not huge changes, and the basic tradition remains, but it is a perfect example of how and why traditions can change. In another fifty years it may be that the Anzac tradition is no longer relevant. ash
2 people like this