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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

What do we gain from or lose to tradition?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25799 points ) December 23rd, 2012

Tradition can be helpful to individuals in society or it can hurt, I believe. For example, religion offers hope for difficult times, but it has also been used as a means to control behavior.

Tradition can relate to small things like the seating arrangement at your holiday dinners. It can also reference a set of beliefs that damage an individual such as homophobia.

In broad terms or in smaller examples, how do humans benefit from or what are the disadvantages to tradition?

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16 Answers

Unbroken's avatar

Tradition grants consistency, stability, you know your place and role. It leads to bonding experiences and often include rites of passage. It gives one a cultural identity.

Even those who rebel or disagree with roles and ideals are shaped through the lens of them.

But ultimately, if too restrictive it progresses to stagnation. Resentment; symptoms of a sick society emerge. Persecution, rebellion, and so on.

You know persecution really hasn’t changed so much since ancient times with superstitious stigmatas and pushing a person or family out of a tribe, killing in various methods. It is humbling to find that dispite our enlightenment, science and technological advances we are still stymied and stuck on overcoming ourself fear and other intangibles.

Good question.

JenniferP's avatar

When I got married, I did not follow tradition and saved a lot of money. I bought a $50.00 green dress and got married in a court house. I got a gold band without a diamond.

Why should I follow some expensive tradition, just because everyone else does. Now I am divorcing after 15 years. I am glad I didn’t waste all that money just to impress others. Some people who did had shorter marriages than I did.

JLeslie's avatar

Traditions can give us something to look forward to. I think having something we look forward to is good for us emotionaly. Whether it be putting up decorations, a special meal at a holiday, seeing family, going to vacation, all these things move the yeat along. Depressed people usually have some sense of hopelessness and helplessness. If we know where we are headed we feel more in control and hopeful for the next event.

Tradition also helps us feel connected. When I light my Chanukah candles I know other Jewish families are doing the same and I feel connected to them. On July 4th all of America is part of that holiday. Fireworks being set off in the country once the sun has set.

The negative about tradition can be the pressure felt to celebrate them in a certain way. Or, the feelings of sadness when a holiday does not meet a tradition or expectation from years past.

Also, not all traditions fit all individuals. We still need to be able to feel good about being individuals. But, then, we can just start our own traditions.

Sunny2's avatar

Family traditions are sometimes a nuisance, but creating new traditions for your own generation is fun. Usually you save some of the old ones along with the new. This year we’re resurrecting a tradition from my childhood. Our favorite dessert was a chocolate icebox cake made with ladyfingers and a chocolate egg cream. I’m making it for a new generation.

augustlan's avatar

Like nearly every thought we have/action we take/belief we hold, a tradition must be examined in order to determine if it’s a positive, neutral or negative thing. Probably most traditions fall into the neutral or positive categories. So long as they make us feel good and don’t hurt anyone else, traditions can be quite lovely. Honoring a memory or bonding with family or peers can strengthen ties and just give us warm fuzzy feelings.

Clearly, though, some traditions actively hurt others. In that case, I say the harm caused to others outweighs any warm and fuzzy feelings we may get from holding onto the tradition. Those traditions should be laid to rest. “But it’s tradition!” shouldn’t carry any weight in the face of harm.

zensky's avatar

I don’t want to get into the religious or cultural aspects of tradition because I am not equipped to do so. But I will give you a recent example; instead of just writing down my recipes (or take-offs on other people’s recipes) I have recently begun writing a recipe book, intended for my children, with stories around the recipes plus tips and things.

For example, if I make a particular dish one day – I’ll write down the different ingredients I used that time and also follow up and include how it came out, and what the kids thought of it.

Someone visiting mentioned that I was starting a new family tradition.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Shippy's avatar

I am beginning to abhor them. that is not entirely true I’ve despised them for around ten years now Every year it is this “What are we doing for Christmas” question. Really? I would be quite happy to shut the door and sit here doing what I normally do. I cant stand the site of Turkey, I hate crackers, and what is it all for? To stuff your face, swap silly gifts and as most people do, eat too much. That goes for Easter too. Shoving chocolate eggs down your face? For what. Funerals? christenings they can all take a hike.

And since I am having a rant here. I want to remind the human race, Christmas is for kids. Although I am not even sure why we have it for kids, except to buy them loads of gifts and again stuff our faces.if you can afford all the food it takes to stuff ones face After the age of 10 christmas should vanish from your life. For good and all. I feel like throwing mince pies at the wall.

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JenniferP's avatar

@Shippy I don’t celebrate Christmas for religious reasons. Do I miss it? When I was a little kid I liked it. Who wouldn’t like getting gifts? But as an adult I am relieved to not have to buy gifts and exchange them. I fortunately have a very practical personality. If I need something, I buy it. Why should I buy somebody something they may not want or need and have them do the same for me?

I’m not going to lie. I like looking at the Christmas lights. They are very pretty.

Shippy's avatar

@JenniferP Yes, I can see that if it was celebrated for Christ’s birthday but, unfortunately none of my ‘family’ believe in that so that’s not an option. For me also Christmas was spent as a kid, with drunk abusive parents and drama. Plus over the last few years we have had a death at Christmas. I wouldn’t mind so much but I am FORCED to celebrate. In a way I dislike, booze and food.

JenniferP's avatar

@Shippy I had some of the same problems in my family.

Nullo's avatar

We gain cultural stability. We lose cultural flexibility, but to me that’s no hardship.

wundayatta's avatar

Tradition that you don’t like is painful. But traditions you enjoy make everything more meaningful. Humans thrive on the return of things they know well. It makes us feel like things are right.

If we can dump the traditions that are hurtful and allow ourselves to build new, meaningful traditions, we’ll all be happier.

blueiiznh's avatar

For me traditions are nostalgic comforts.
As long as it retains comfort then it is positive and a gain.
Some traditions over time may evoke sad or negative feelings. If so, it may be time to start a new tradition.

Last Christmas day was the last day i saw my father before he passed. While I may have some sad feelings on Christmas day for that, and I know it will bring out a miss, I will still enjoy the traditions of the day.

mattbrowne's avatar

We gain structure of the day and year as well as group identity. We might lose opportunities to modernize and improve our conditions.

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