Faith of our Children: Traditions

For the next few months I’ll be participating in a monthly blogging project called Faith of Our Children with several other mom-bloggers.  This month we’re talking about the impact of traditions on our kids’ faith.
When I think about traditions, the image that comes first to my mind is Christmas eve at my mom’s house.  Every year my siblings and I gather to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.  With in-laws and cousins and a friend here and there, our group is huge– around 50 people these days.  But we all squeeze into mom’s big long dining room for clam chowder in bread bowls.
By the time dinner is done, the littlest kids can barely take their eyes off the heaps of gifts around the Christmas tree in the corner of the room.  But there’s no rushing this particular tradition.  Dishes are set away, and chairs moved into a big ring in the living room, and we all go sit together. Then always, always, my mom pulls out her well-worn Bible, opens it to Luke 2, and hands it to my brother.  In the ensuing quiet, in a room lit only by twinkle lights, the Christmas story is told.  Then we sing Christmas carols together, ending always with Happy Birthday To Jesus.
Within minutes of that last song, our living room looks like any living room anywhere in America, littered with wrapping paper and children clutching new goodies.   But never has a year gone by without carols and the Christmas story and honor being given to the One whose birth we celebrate. I hope those moments are ones that our children will never forget.  And when the ‘tradition’ baton is passed on to their generation, whether their gatherings are big or small, hear or far, I pray they too will treasure that tradition, and will continue to tell the precious story to their children, and their children’s children.
If you would like to read what others have to say on this topic, visit the bloggers below.  And I would love to hear your traditions as well.   How are you actively working to pass your faith on to your children?

Other Faith of Our Children bloggers



  1. My favorite tradition that we have done with our children are Resurrection Baskets…When our children were little, we made the decision that we wanted certain holidays to be about Christ, not what the culture said, and yet, we wanted to opportunity to bless our children. So Resurrection Baskets were born. They kind of go hand in hand with Resurrection Eggs, but each gift given in our basket points to something in the last week of Christ on earth…and we talk about it as they look at the baskets. So Sunglasses represents darkness from noon to 3 pm, towels, bubble bath type things, shaving kits with shampoo, body wash, etc all represent Jesus washing the disciples feet, hats represent the crown of thorns, and so on…we do not do EVERY item every year, but God has brought different things each year. Next year, I am thinking about giving each of my children 30 silver dollars (maybe 50 cent pieces if the dollars are hard to find) Through these baskets, we found that our children really KNEW the Easter story, even if they could not fully grasp the deep meaning of Easter. It has been very special for us!

  2. We have two, sort of recent, traditions–both beginning in the past 20 years, and both get us back to remembering who we are. The first is Hanukkah–about 10 years ago my sister had the idea that we should stop giving gifts to each other’s children (we had already stopped giving to each other) and we should take the money and pool it and donate it to a charity. Through an elaborate process, we would let the kids decide on the charity. The kids were happy to oblige (which thrilled and surprised us). There is a custom in Judaism to give $ in multiples of 18 (the numeric value of the the hebrew letters for “life” equals 18). And, it turns out, that when we pooled our gift money, using the limit we had agreed upon for gifts, it coincidentally was a multiple of 18. Our kids learned that even in our happy times we must remember our obligation to make the world a better place.

    The other is just with my husband and kids. The holiday of Sukkot is meant to be a joyous holiday, but every year my husband and I would have an argument about it. Many Jews do not build a Sukkah, but when our kids were very young I wanted to build one. For years we would argue about whether to build one (we did from the first year I wanted to), then we would argue about where to build it and how to build it. This turned into our “annual Sukkah argument.” It became a big joke for us, turning what could have been a real problem into a joyous tradition for our kids.

  3. My favorite traditions revolve around Christmas, and they are ideas I have taken from others. We leave our nativity empty except for the animals, and Mary and Joseph travel through the house during the Christmas season, spending at least one night in each of the kid’s rooms. They arrive at the nativity on Christmas Eve and the baby Jesus arrives overnight. We place the wise men either later in the day or the day after Christmas. Sometimes we are really good about reading about the journey they took as we go. Other years we simply read the story from Luke on Christmas morning.
    We also bake a birthday cake for Jesus for our celebration at my parent’s house. We use chocolate cake to represent our sin with white icing to represent how Christ can take the darkness and make it white as snow. We then decorate the cake with an angel to represent the announcement of the good news. We also decorate with 12 red candles and evergreen trees for the 12 disciples, everlasting life and the light Christ brought into the world.
    For Easter the baskets are hidden and the kids go on a scavenger hunt to find them. All of the clues (they don’t usually pertain to the Easter story) come from scripture, and I have them listed on my blog on one of my posts around Easter. We do change a few from year to year.
    I love building in all kinds of traditions to our family life. They are usually simple but will be the things our kids remember most. We also have non-spiritual traditions that we consider part of our family identity.

  4. In our house, we celebrate the feast day of St. Nicholas. By Dec 6, our stockings are hung, and that morning the kids will find nuts, chocolate, and clementines in their stockings. We talk about who St. Nicholas was, how much he loved Christ and because of that, he gave all his wealth away to those in need. They know that he’s the model for Santa Claus, though they still believe in Santa Claus too. We deal with Santa by saying that Jesus loves children and wants to give them good things, and like St. Nicholas, Santa helps Jesus by giving good gifts.

    Mostly in our family, we just try to infuse our everyday life with our Catholic faith. Feast days that are important to our family, we celebrate with some traditional food like shepherd’s pie and soda bread on St. Patrick’s Day. We attend Holy Day masses together even if it’s the middle of the week and a school day. It’s important. Our prayer is that by making our faith a lived faith, and not just a “Sunday” faith, our kids will grow to know, love, and serve the Lord with all their hearts.

  5. What a cozy Christmas, Mary! Reminds me of my own grandma’s house before our family got to big. Our “new tradition” for over 100 of us is to take over the local school gym for our Christmas celebration. That’s one of my favorite days of the year! 🙂

  6. Beautiful! Great tradition! With our kids still babies we haven’t set a lot of traditions yet, but I love the way a family tradition feels. I think we’ll add this to our Christmas Eve too!