Recommended listening: Tradition from Fiddler on the Roof
Lately, the presence of traditions of all sorts has been growing increasingly apparent in my life. Last weekend I went to Turnabout, a dance in the spring that is more casual than other dances (Homecoming and Prom -- which are also full of traditions) where the girls ask the boys. This dance is a tradition at my school as well as many others. For our version of Turnabout the Marching Band decides on a theme, hires a live band, decorates the cafeteria according to the theme, and encourages students to dress accordingly.
Then there are the traditions outside of high school. The way we celebrate holidays, the manner in which we approach significant life events, or even smaller daily rituals.
After my interview with Emory University alum this morning, where I marveled at some of the traditions (such as a giant Coca-Cola shot the student body does together), I truly began to think about why traditions play such a critical role in our lives.
Tradition in my life
Personally, I love most of the traditions in my life. I enjoy all the Jewish holidays where I dress up, occasionally go to synagog, and then eat a delicious meal with my entire family. I love school traditions of getting decked out for spirit days and assemblies, going to dances and parades, and this year having the privilege to chant "Seniors! Seniors" whenever we find it necessary. It may be the nostalgia of leaving home kicking in early, but for some reason every chance I get to engage in some sort of silly custom, I relish it.
One of my favorite and most important traditions is the 4th of July which I always spend with two of my best friends Corie and Sarmel (her real name is Sarah). Although we've never gone to school together, we met in elementary school performing in local musical theatre productions. Ever since then, we've been best friends. Despite the distance and increasingly busy schedules we always make it a point to share the 4th together. Our day is packed, starting with the community pancake breakfast in the morning, then parade in the afternoon, and fireworks at night. The day is always punctuated with tons of hilarious stories, interesting run-ins with old friends, and plenty of food and laughs. More than any other times I've shared with them, my memories of the 4th always stick because the progression from year to year is always so incredible and the reliability of our traditions strengthens our friendship.
Traditions: Something to hold on to
Like I mentioned earlier, I think the reason I've noticed traditions so much lately is because I value them now more than ever. As I think about moving on to the next step of my life, I cling to traditions to create a sense of consistency despite other changes. Even when it comes to looking for a college, I feel comforted when universities have similar customs to those I enjoy in high school, or other unique rituals that I can see myself grasping on to.
I don't want to be blinded, however, by the role traditions play in my own life, because traditions are different for everyone.
What do traditions do for you? What are some of your traditions? How/what makes such traditions meaningful?
Every heart that has beat strongly and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind.
Robert Louis Stevenson