Travel Theme: Tradition

The weekly Travel Theme from Ailsa at Wheresmybackpack? is Tradition.  I’m a little late with my response this week, but since I’m as much a sucker for traditions as anyone, here goes…

We tend to think of traditions as something that can’t be broken – or that have gone on forever. I was struck during the recent Diamond Julilee for the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II, by how many things I thought were “forever” traditions started with Elizabeth, Edward, or Victoria in the last 100 or so years.

Sometimes we assign the word “traditional” to something as if that attaches some mystical unbreakable charm to the event or item, but actually, in our normal anthropological evolution, some traditions necessarily fade and others spring up on a regular basis. Sometimes we cling to them too long, and sometimes we discard them too easily.

Some common US traditions that come quickly to mind….

1) Wedding traditions – Wedding rings date back to ancient Roman times or earlier. The pale ivory or white wedding dress was sometimes worn earlier, but it became the standard  after Queen Victoria’s 1842 wedding. Although diamonds had been used in wedding bands before that, diamond engagement rings became popular in the 1920’s, and became a must-have when DeBeer’s advertised that “A diamond is forever” in the 1950’s.

2) Christmas traditions – Christmas trees (Prince Albert brought the tradition to England in the mid-nineteenth century from Germany) are a big one. The current story of Santa Claus flying with his reindeer, coming down the chimney to fill stockings and leave gifts arrived with C. Clement Moore’s 1823 poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas (‘Twas the night before Christmas…) I’m not sure when authors and cartoonists decided that Santa was a first name rather than the honorific for a saint, and that Claus was a surname rather than a given name, but that always gets me – it’s a growing tradition I’m not fond of! In our family, we also like to go to Christmas Eve music services, and we always make way too much shortbread at Christmas.

3) New Year traditions – We sing Auld Lang Syne as the year turns. The old Scots tune with words of Robert Burns was popularized in the US by Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians, who performed it at New Year parties in New York starting in the 1920’s. Those performances were on radio, and later TV. Another tradition we follow in our family, on both Christmas and New Year’s Eve, is burning bayberry candles down to the nub for luck in the coming year.

This bayberry candle comes from a friend
so on Christmas (or New Years’s) eve burn it down to the end.
For a bayberry candle burned to the socket,
will bring joy to the heart and gold to the pocket.

4) Soup Day traditions – What, you don’t celebrate Soup Day? You’ve never heard of Soup Day? Well, you don’t know what you’re missing.  This is our very own tradition, invented by my beloved. Each October, we pick a weekend, and our kids, siblings, nieces and nephews are invited to bring their favorite soups to our place. We enjoy a weekend of comfort food (and family camped out in every room of our house.)  We’ve even designed special plates that carry 4 bowls of soup at a time. We’ve been doing this for quite a few years now, and the kids really count on it, so it definitely qualifies as a tradition. Still, in a few years it will get harder to get kids and grandkids together, and we will be downsizing our home, so Soup Day will have to move/evolve, or go the way of wedding rings worn on the index finger!

To see what traditional topics other bloggers have posted, click here.

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34 Responses to Travel Theme: Tradition

  1. Pingback: Honey, I’m Home! | The Retiring Sort

  2. Madhu says:

    Loved your interpretation TRS! The family soup tradition is certainly worth borrowing 🙂

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  3. Super list of traditions. It’s interesting when someone points something out how you think … MMmmm … ahh , yes, that’s a tradition. Well thought out.
    Isadora

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  4. eof737 says:

    I love soups but have never heard of soup day either! 🙂

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  5. Ouw lovely entri this time my friend 😛

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  6. CurlsnSkirls says:

    Such a charming and well-researched post!
    Thank you for looking at my blog so I could discover yours.

    Like

  7. pommepal says:

    So well researched and interesting. A bit of the old with the new. Now where have I heard that tradition? Maybe just needs a bit of blue……

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  8. Pingback: Travel Theme: Tradition | mothergrogan

  9. Touch2Touch says:

    What a delightful post! Interesting information on stuff I thought I knew — but didn’t. And your Soup Day sounds marvelous. Soup is one of my favorite ways of entertaining, and this gives me furiously to think — maybe it should be “institutionalized”? Become a —- TRADITION?
    Loved this.

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    • Thanks – What makes it extra fun is the variety of ideas people come up with for the soups – the kids all coordinate to avoid duplication (although we might get both meaty and vegan chilis, for example). I’m guessing it could be a fun theme for a fall party. Those who can’t do soup can bring salads or breads… and everything goes with the beer and wine the kids show up with!

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  10. cocoaupnorth says:

    Love the soup tradition.

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  11. deepa says:

    Lovely insights on tradition! Soup day sounds fun..

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  12. ailsapm says:

    Totally stealing soup day! The bayberry candle tradition is something I’ve never heard of before, do you have any idea where it originated?

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    • Google says the American colonists started the bayberry candle thing, but my Nana always did it, and she was from Scotland. I guess before paraffin, wax candles were smelly, not in a great way, but boiling bayberries brought a wax substance to the surface that was a nice smelling substitution – it just took a lot of berries!

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  13. adinparadise says:

    Lovely post. I rather like the idea of the soup tradition. Four bowls of different soups at a time, would be delicious. 😉

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    • The kids now look for soup recipes all year and try to outdo one another! I usually make beef barley and vegetarian pea soup. My kitchen and laundry room fill up with crockpots and extra plug-in burners, and the house smells wonderful!

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  14. I like the reminder that a tradition is as much of our own making as something handed down through the generations and imposed on us. Great post TRS:)

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  15. Nothing wrong with soup for two. 🙂
    I am a big fan of soup. I love your own special tradition and the equipment that goes with it. FUN!

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  16. coastalcrone says:

    Excellent post. Sometimes traditions have to be adjusted to continue as traditions.

    Like

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