23 May 2013


I'm sure that most people are familiar with the song, "Traditions," from Fiddler on the Roof.  While treated in a light-hearted way in the Broadway show, make no mistake, traditions are serious business! What things do you look forward to on important occasions or holidays? The odds are you have certain practices that are linked to the event that are very important to you. It could be as simple as a wonderful dinner that gathers in loved ones to complicated activities that are only done at certain times. No matter the event, we look forward to the celebratory process and feel let down if we are unable to complete it. It's just not Thanksgiving without the turkey!

Just as every family has traditions, many of which have been handed down through generations, there are cultural traditions as well. Many traditions originate from where one grew up, and we would probably be very surprised at how far back some of the things we do now actually go. This is a great starting point for learning more about your family-- examine those traditions, and figure out how they originated.

While some traditions are all about fun, others have more serious connotations. An example would be the role of children in a family and their responsibility in contributing to its economic needs if necessary. This was a very strong tradition in Bob's family, and even though his maternal grandmother was born in Boston in 1896, children were expected to help out financially until the Baby Boomer generation, which in his family, was the first one in which children were expected to finish high school and learn some sort of trade. His father, John Domenico (1912-1989), was never able to finish high school because his financial support was needed to help sustain his family. This action forever influenced the rest of his life and in large part, defined who he was as well as who he wasn't.

By studying your family traditions, you can learn many things about your ancestors. Think about those things that were so important to your growing up, and then think about how many generations may have done similar things. We have a need to ritualize certain aspects of our lives, and our ancestors were no exception.

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