Genealogy doesn’t have to be dry – or boring. In fact, if you learn some fun ways to celebrate it with family traditions, it can be downright fun – and amazing. So, let’s talk about family tradition ideas.
Family traditions that celebrate genealogy can be both fun and educational – and they don’t have to be boring or stuck in time. Focusing on making genealogy a natural part of your family’s traditions will help your family develop increased resilience and stability while becoming closer.
Ready to see our top nine choices for ideas to celebrate genealogy through family traditions? Keep reading – and let’s do this. I’ll try to keep the gratuitous Fiddler on the Roof mentions to a minimum, I promise.
9 Family Tradition Ideas for Genealogy
Family traditions can be a simple or elaborate as you’d like them to be – even when they’re genealogy-focused! They can pull from (or build on) existing family traditions or you can create new, dedicated traditions that focus wholly on family history.
There’s no wrong answer – and that’s probably my favorite part. In order to make this work, all you have to do is try – and find simple ways to incorporate family history into your family’s current and future traditions.
|Family Tradition Idea||Example and/or Notes|
|Celebrate an ancestor’s birthday||Have a cake, streamers, a whole party, or even the works to celebrate an ancestor’s birthday. Get to know them and their stories as their birthday present.|
|Read your kids the bedtime stories you read when you were a kid||Did you have a favorite book or story as a kid? Read those to your kids for bedtime. Breanne’s mom read Little House on the Prairie to her and she plans to read them to her kids, too. Her great-grandmother loved the book “Little Britches,” so there’s another option.|
|Make, keep, and celebrate holiday traditions||What are your family’s favorite foods, books, songs, or whatever else on a specific holiday? Keep using those – and talk about how long they’ve been a tradition in your family.|
|Foods (on special occasions or just because)||Breanne’s family always eats breakfast casserole on Conference Sundays. On birthdays at our house, the birthday person gets to pick their favorite meal for dinner.|
|Celebrate holidays from your family’s heritage or traditional countries||Either celebrate holidays in countries that your family is from or incorporate that country’s traditions into a shared holiday. For example, one year you may want to consider: how do the Irish (or whatever your heritage is) celebrate Christmas? Learn a new tradition – and try it out.|
|Dia de Los Muertos||Go watch the Disney/Pixar movie Coco. Don’t forget tissues while you’re learning about this amazing cultural celebration of family past and present. Then, consider celebrating your own family next Dia de Los Muertos.|
|Important milestones||You may want to create special celebrations or activities for graduations, marriages, completing a school year, losing a tooth, or whatever else. Make it fun and memorable with your family.|
|Family hobbies||Spend time doing things together by making a family hobby. Breanne’s husband golfs with his dad and brother every Saturday. He’s excited to teach their kids. On the other hand, Breanne, her mom, and her grandma spend time together quilting. You don’t have to pick golf or quilting, though – my family loves jumping on the trampoline together or just going on a hike or bike ride. It can be as simple or involved as you want it to be.|
|Create and have daily rituals||These daily rituals can be as simple or complex as you want them to be. Simple ones can be memorable ones, like saying, “good morning, sunshine!” to waking sleepyheads or telling kids to “remember who you are!” as they’re headed off to school.|
Breanne found a pretty awesome idea for celebrating an ancestor’s birthday. There’s a company that creates and sells birthday cards for your ancestors – so you can have a visual aid that helps you learn about them and remember to look up their vital statistics. That way, for example, you definitely celebrate their birthday on the right day! You can check out those ancestor’s birthday cards at this site here.
What Traditions Do You Already Have in Your Family?
When you’re considering making a family tradition that’s more genealogy-centric, it’s important to first take inventory of your existing family traditions. You’ll want to include both the more basic and simple traditions and the more elaborate ones.
You’ll be surprised at what you think of while doing this initial inventory, because traditions don’t have to be big and elaborate. In fact, the simpler they are, the more likely they are to continue – and to be passed on to future generations.
My dad’s family had a quirky tradition for celebrating St. Patrick’s day (I say quirky because my dad’s side of the family isn’t where my Irish heritage comes from – that’s my mostly Swedish and English side!).
My granddad would tell us all about Louie the leprechaun – an invisible leprechaun who we’d try to catch. He’d tell us where Louie was hiding and we’d run off to find him. It kept us entertained for longer than I’ll admit. That led me to research more about my Irish heritage – and to this day, my kids love chasing the same, invisible Louie the Leprechaun through my house – while I tell them about the stories I’ve learned about Ireland.
So find those little traditions – or the ones centered around holidays and important events. They’re all important – no matter how little (or invisible) they may seem to be. Write them down. Then, find a way to use them as a learning experience so that your whole family can learn more about their heritage, roots, and the family who’s come before them.
How Do You Start a Family Tradition?
Starting a family tradition can be as easy or involved as you want it to be. It can be starting an entirely new tradition – or it can mean restarting a forgotten one.
Once you’ve taken stock of your existing family traditions, see if there are any things your family already does on a regular basis that you love to do. Keep doing it – and over time it’ll become a family tradition.
Just remember to keep it simple – and don’t declare something a family tradition after a single time trying it. It takes time for something to become a tradition – and it’s more likely to become a tradition if it’s one of those quietly-done things that everyone in your family enjoys doing (even if it’s not their #1, all-time favorite thing to do).
You’ll know if a tradition is a keeper (even after a single time trying it) by the way your children and family react to it. Watch their reactions closely. The ones they like are the ones you should most definitely keep around. The ones they don’t like as much? Well, you’ll need to think about those ones.
That doesn’t mean you should immediately boot any traditions that your family doesn’t totally love, though. Sometimes, the traditions that have a little bit of grumbling and groaning can turn into the best kinds of traditions, given enough time, patience, and understanding.
For example, what if your family has a Christmas tradition of doing service? It’s bound to have a few grumbles – but you wouldn’t want to ditch that tradition! These kinds of traditions are more than just traditions – they’re also learning experiences that help your family develop character and connect to others.
These kinds of traditions are worth all of the groans about, “Why are you making us do this again?” or “Why are you telling us about this again?” One day, your kids may learn to love those traditions. Who knows? They may begin their trip down memory lane with, “Oh, man… Remember when mom told us that thing all the time?”
In any case, give your traditions time to see how they work before you immediately approve or reject them. And if they’re important enough to continue – keep doing them, even if they get a few complaints.
Now, if it’s a trial activity you wanted to test to see if you should add it as a family tradition? It may need to be skipped or adjusted for going forward. Or if it’s an important, existing tradition that you’d like your family to learn to appreciate, know that they may need more exposure, practice, or time to develop an acquired taste for that tradition.
Then, over time, keep doing that activity or event. If it’s been changed or adjusted to some degree so that your family will enjoy it more? That’s okay. Over time, that event will become a family tradition.
How These 9 Ideas Can Help Preserve Family History
Family history is all about remembering and being a family over the ages. That remembrance is the key. So when you memorize something about genealogy, a tradition can help you stress its importance or help you learn to remember important facts, events, or whatever else.
So use the family traditions to help you remember your family’s history. Traditions will help you not only remember your family’s identity but also help you come closer as a family. That’s the whole point of traditions and family events. So use it as it’s intended – and not just to make everyone spend an unhappy time together fulfilling some forgotten requirement.
So use these nine ideas from this article to help your family strengthen its identity – and to come closer together. Spend time together doing things you all enjoy. Make those your family’s traditions. That way, you’ll enjoy being a family – and want to spend even more time together.
How Family Traditions Strengthen Families
Traditions shouldn’t be onerous. Instead, they should give you something to look forward to. They should be an expectation of something exciting that’s coming your way! And they should definitely be something that draws your family closer together – and maybe even be an enjoyable activity. Okay, fine… they should be enjoyable or at least tolerable. They definitely shouldn’t be miserable!
Traditions help your family become stronger on so many levels. Here are some of them.
- Traditions are a way to learn by doing and being together.
- They help you form and see a family’s identity.
- Traditions help tell your family’s narrative or story.
- They build upon your family’s mission and goals.
- Traditions remind you that it’s fun to be together.
- Traditions teach your family important principles and really cement them into each other’s minds.
So if you want a stronger family? Make some traditions and go have fun together. You’ll be stronger, happier, and more ready to spend time together as a family. And your family’s traditions? They can be as simple as Sunday dinners together with all of the cousins.
Using these 9 Ideas at Family Reunions
If you’re having a family reunion soon, consider strengthening your extended family’s identity and narrative by adding a couple of family history themed activities or games. They can be as simple or complex as your family prefers.
And if you’d like to have even more ideas than these 9 we’ve already given you, here are 21 more ideas for a family history-themed family reunion.
Is Genealogy Just for Old People? While in the past, family history was seen as a more geriatric hobby, today’s genealogical research is more technologically based and is suited for people of all ages. Read more about who enjoys genealogy in our post here.
How Can You Make Genealogy Fun for Young Kids? Add fun to genealogy so that younger kids will enjoy it. Tell them stories or tie it to something they’re already interested in, like events, sports, or specific family members they’re particularly fond of. Here are more ways to make genealogy fun for younger children.
How Can You Make Genealogy Fun for Youth and Teens? The best way to make genealogy fun for youth and teens is to make it relevant, interesting, or related to something they are wanting to know more about. Here is our dedicated, entire article about how to make genealogy fun for youth and teens.
Finding out about your last name is cool. But what if your family's name has ties to nature? Can that help you learn about where you're from or how your family took up that nature-based last...
Growing up, I assumed that all records were both boring and infallibly correct. As it turns out, not all records are boring - and it's important to question the validity of every record. How...