Traditions, we all have them, those consistent, routinely rituals performed for one stubborn reason or another. They’re in every culture, country, and family, and sometimes it seems like they last for generations, but are they necessarily a good thing?
In some ways, they are. For instance, it might mean more for a couple to maintain the same gift of a single red rose on Valentine’s Day rather than getting something new each year. If they pursued the change, they would have the potential to forget and damage the holiday and relationship. However, if they were to keep up with the tradition and prove that their love was just as strong as it was a year ago, perhaps even stronger now because yet another year went by that you cared enough to remember and reignite the flame. In this case, some would prefer the tradition.
There are some traditions that are formed by accident when joined with another. For instance, every Christmas, my family goes out to see a movie that we (miraculously) all want to see. This tradition would never have begun if we hadn’t gone on a whim with another family for their annual Christmas film. It’s significant to me because, without it, we probably wouldn’t spend the holiday together at all.
In other cases, secret societies or fraternities and sororities, have farfetched and extreme rite of passages that have been passed on from generation to generation. Ridiculous pranks and hazing that vandalize, defy and hurt. Yet, more and more idiots do it just to belong, to have connections to a world that actually accepts those things, justifying its continuation.
Other traditions are more damaging than that, or so we first perceive. Boys in various countries have to kill an innocent animal just to assert their manhood. Girls have to wear certain outfits or piercings to emphasize their availability. To us, it’s an issue of gender stereotypes or discrimination, as well as animal abuse, but to other cultures and countries, they may not see it as an issue at all, but a part of life, their life specifically. Any variation from it would be like a day without sunlight, unnatural and sad.
The real problem with traditions is that if it’s harmful, it’ll tread foul streaks in our past and poison our future, but how do we stop something that has gone so strong for long? And, how can we tell if a tradition truly is bad if we’ve been doing it our whole lives? It’s like breathing toxic air.
I imagine that to rid a bad tradition would be the same way that you start a tradition: Gather a batch of people who think along the same lines as you do and rebel, or cling on to a different tradition and evolve. Hopefully, what you choose would be better.
But, how can you tell?
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