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Holten: The importance of tradition

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_preview","fid":"2553605","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"180","title":"","width":"180"}}]]Do you have any traditions? Are there things that you do over and over in particular circumstanc...

2553611+0525 Holten Cartoon.jpg


Do you have any traditions? Are there things that you do over and over in particular circumstances? As a society, we are engulfed in traditions. We tend to do the same general thing every Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day. There’s nothing wrong with that. It breeds consistency. But I think that tradition is the first cousin of superstition. We do certain things consistently because we are superstitious. Those things worked in the past, so we think we need to continue to do them the same way or something bad could happen. The motive behind tradition is much the same. In some ways, they are good luck charms and they make us feel secure. Ellen Goodman is an American journalist and syndicated columnist who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1980. She said traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can’t even describe, or aren’t even aware of. According to Mr. Dictionary, tradition is the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs and information from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice. When I was young, we went to Grandma’s house every Christmas Eve. Before doing so, we opened a few presents and then went to church. Then my grandparents and uncle gave us more presents after the meal. After that, we’d go home and open presents from each other. Then Santa would come during the night with the big stuff. It was the grand finale. As I write this now, I realize that we were pretty spoiled. That was a tradition which, because it was so special and so much fun, I naturally wanted to continue forever. In fact, we more or less have, with a couple of changes. I no longer get as many presents, my sister’s house has replaced my grandparent’s house and some of the key players are missing, having been replaced by a younger generation. When I played basketball, if I had a particularly good game, I would put my socks on the same way the next game. Isn’t it silly to think that I somehow thought socks were going to help me perform better? Wouldn’t it be funny if they did? They’d be magic socks. By itself, the word tradition conjures up pleasant images and thoughts. But not all traditions are pleasant or memorable. For example, the Klu Klux Klan might have some traditions that aren’t so fabulous. And the Aztecs sacrificing children on those flat-topped pyramids south of the border hardly seems positive. There are other unusual traditions. For example, in the Vatican of Roman burial grounds, graves contain pipes that led to the outside of the graveyard. Feeding the dead is a tradition of the Romans. They pour honey, wine and food stuff into the grave through this pipe. In many locations in China, Indonesia and the Philippines, you might find hanging coffins. It is believed that hanging coffins over a cliff can prevent the dead’s body from being taken by wild animals. Meanwhile, the Masai Tribe, found in Kenya and Tanzania, spit on someone they meet as part of a greeting. Then there are those American traditions that the rest of the world thinks are weird, like canned laughter on TV shows, asking people what they do for a living in great detail, guys asking girls out in random places and laws that change dramatically from state to state. But when it comes to tradition, I think Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson summed it up best when he said, “Every heart that has beat strongly and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind.
Do you have any traditions? Are there things that you do over and over in particular circumstances?As a society, we are engulfed in traditions. We tend to do the same general thing every Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day. There’s nothing wrong with that. It breeds consistency.But I think that tradition is the first cousin of superstition. We do certain things consistently because we are superstitious. Those things worked in the past, so we think we need to continue to do them the same way or something bad could happen. The motive behind tradition is much the same. In some ways, they are good luck charms and they make us feel secure.Ellen Goodman is an American journalist and syndicated columnist who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1980. She said traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds.The most powerful ones are those we can’t even describe, or aren’t even aware of.According to Mr. Dictionary, tradition is the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs and information from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice.When I was young, we went to Grandma’s house every Christmas Eve. Before doing so, we opened a few presents and then went to church. Then my grandparents and uncle gave us more presents after the meal. After that, we’d go home and open presents from each other. Then Santa would come during the night with the big stuff. It was the grand finale. As I write this now, I realize that we were pretty spoiled.That was a tradition which, because it was so special and so much fun, I naturally wanted to continue forever. In fact, we more or less have, with a couple of changes. I no longer get as many presents, my sister’s house has replaced my grandparent’s house and some of the key players are missing, having been replaced by a younger generation.When I played basketball, if I had a particularly good game, I would put my socks on the same way the next game. Isn’t it silly to think that I somehow thought socks were going to help me perform better? Wouldn’t it be funny if they did? They’d be magic socks.By itself, the word tradition conjures up pleasant images and thoughts. But not all traditions are pleasant or memorable. For example, the Klu Klux Klan might have some traditions that aren’t so fabulous. And the Aztecs sacrificing children on those flat-topped pyramids south of the border hardly seems positive.There are other unusual traditions. For example, in the Vatican of Roman burial grounds, graves contain pipes that led to the outside of the graveyard. Feeding the dead is a tradition of the Romans. They pour honey, wine and food stuff into the grave through this pipe.In many locations in China, Indonesia and the Philippines, you might find hanging coffins. It is believed that hanging coffins over a cliff can prevent the dead’s body from being taken by wild animals.Meanwhile, the Masai Tribe, found in Kenya and Tanzania, spit on someone they meet as part of a greeting.Then there are those American traditions that the rest of the world thinks are weird, like canned laughter on TV shows, asking people what they do for a living in great detail, guys asking girls out in random places and laws that change dramatically from state to state.But when it comes to tradition, I think Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson summed it up best when he said, “Every heart that has beat strongly and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind.

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