Schooled: Family traditions


Photo by Daisy Draper

A Christmas tree ornament honoring Mama Perkins. This is a tradition in my house.

By Daisy Draper, staff writer

Here it comes. Another new year. Yippee.

Is anyone else feeling like it’s the same old, same old?

Well, it doesn’t need to be. This past Christmas I read about the students in Snyder Hall at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Campus. Since 1960, these college students have manned the Dial-a-Carol phones during their finals. Anyone from across the country can call and request a holiday song, and available students will play it over the phone. Every lucky fifth caller gets to hear the students actually sing the song. 

What a great tradition! Usually, a tradition is something that has been done for many years, like the Dial-a-Carol program, which just concluded its 53rd year of service, but the holidays are also a great time to make new traditions.

One of our oldest traditions is to put up our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. We decorate it with whatever ornaments we find, but we save the top part of the tree for the most important ornaments. When someone passes away in my family, we get a special ornament and label it with the person’s name. These ornaments get put on the reserved branches near the top of the tree. We have been doing this for as long as I can remember.

Then, on Christmas Eve, my family and I go to my auntie’s house to decorate cookies. This tradition started only two years ago, but it’s a lot of fun and some good times that I’m sure I’ll remember forever. My little cousins get frosting everywhere!

This year, we’re trying a new tradition: we’re writing down all the things we would like to do over Christmas break and putting the choices in a bowl. Instead of sitting at home all day, we can reach in the bowl and do something new every day.

On New Year’s Day, my mom makes black-eyed peas and corn bread. This is a Southern tradition, which my mom has been doing since she married my dad, who is from Texas.

There are many other cultural new year traditions. Here are a few I gleaned from Travel and Leisure’s article World’s Strangest New Year Traditions:

In Denmark, you can break glasses and dishes against your friends’ and relatives’ houses to banish bad spirits. Follow that by jumping off a chair at midnight to bring good luck in the new year.

Feel like taking a trip? Adopt the Colombian tradition of walking around the outside of your house with an empty suitcase, and your new year is sure to include a voyage.

In Belarus, married women hide little things around their homes for their unmarried friends to find. Single ladies who find bread will marry a rich husband, but if they find a ring, their husbands will be handsome! Hmmm…bread or ring? (Still have LOTS of time for that.)

Of course, our new traditions don’t have to be based on superstition. How about making a resolution instead?

Start a tradition of being kinder, studying harder, or being more helpful. It may not be as kooky as the traditions above, but every day is a good day to be a better person.

So, with the new year coming, what new tradition will you start?