By Emma Thomas

Rituals and traditions are a beautiful connection point within our families. They help us build meaning and bring purpose to our lives. 

For many families Christmas is such an important time of rituals and traditions! Thinking about my childhood, I have many fond memories of our Christmases and summer holidays. Having a December birthday also adds to the excitement of the season! We’d go for holidays at the beach, attend Christmas carols events, catch up with family and friends and eat so much delicious food! 

For our children rituals have power – they start before birth and follow them through early childhood education, primary school, secondary school and beyond! Being able to come back and revisit the same routines each year provides strong links back to family and community. When life is changing or children are going through a tough period, being able to return to rituals and traditions each year is very grounding. 

When we are in new or unfamiliar environments sharing strong rituals and routines can help us feel safe and secure. This could be as simple as your child having a blankie or cuddle toy when starting in a new room at their early learning centre, or as complicated as recreating an ‘Aussie Christmas’ if you’re living overseas! 

It can be helpful to think about rituals as a ‘process with meaning’. It is something that we do again and again and attach certain significance to. Recognising the rituals and traditions of our families builds them into authentic and powerful moments. Both our simple, repetitive daily routines and our special celebrations become anticipated and treasured. When we understand the power of ritual we can connect with each other on a deeper level. This connection builds trust and the relationships that children need to grow. 

In the excitement of the Christmas season it is helpful to remember that our children still need their regular routines to help settle them within the bigger traditions that are happening around them. For our young children, consistent and predictable routines help them feel safe, and when children feel safe, they thrive!

For some families Christmas can be a challenging time – maybe the rituals and traditions of your childhood don’t bring you joy, or maybe you’ve lost a family member and your old traditions were linked to them. No matter where you are at, remember you are in charge, you can adopt new traditions and reject old ones, to best suit your family. 

Maggie Dent shares her thoughts on ‘The comfort of family ritual’ if you would like some further reading (please click here).