The holiday season has arrived, and with it all the joy and increased stress (and expenses!) that we have come to expect. Amidst all the hustle and bustle, many families find some familiar moments of calm and connection in the ways they celebrate. Our unique traditions and rituals, whether daily or seasonal, hold immense psychological power.
The performing of rituals can strengthen family bonds and create a feeling of well-being and stability. They provide a sense of continuity in our life and become an important way to track time and mark milestones (like a first year of marriage, the birth of a child, or a move to a new city).
Traditions provide an excuse to escape from the rush and distraction of routine life, and focus inward on our deeper priorities. They invite storytelling and value-sharing conversations into everyday life, and can be a powerful way to connect with our cultural or familial identities, and to create shared family memories.
Rituals can even create a special kind of energy for participants. I know it sounds hokey, but imagine feeling a buzzing excitement while waiting for a concert to start, or feelings of joy and closeness when attending a wedding. Sociologist Emile Durkheim referred to the feeling as “collective effervescence” (is that not an amazingly fun phrase?!). Collective effervescence refers to a unique electric, almost transcendent energy that people can experience when joined in collaborative groups.
How does your family get their collective effervescence during the holiday season? What are your family’s holiday traditions? Is it a movie or game night? A specific meal? The dusting off of old records? An annual trip? Is it time to create a new one?