Why holiday traditions are a big deal for many (and how to manage)

Christmas and other religious or cultural traditions have taken on a very dominant role over the holiday period.

From smells and tastes, to sights and sounds, holiday traditions have become important signifiers explains behavioural psychologist Dr Helgo Schomer.

We tie a huge amount of meaning to memories called sensory information. Out brain loves ritual with a lot sensory information.

Dr Helgo Schomer, behavioural psychologist

Dr Schomer advises that human traditions are born out of the need for predictability and stability.

Whatever religion or belief system, all traditions tend to follow theses four elements:

  • strictly defined time and place
  • set features that do not change
  • set features that evolve
  • a great deal of symbols, meanings and memory

Schomer continues to explain that rituals create a sense of belonging, security, comfort and values, while also strengthening family bonds.

At the same time, he cautioned that people should behave in moderation in order to remain healthy and stable.

Here's how to cope if it gets overwhelming:

  • plan and delegate
  • understand that some family members won't participate in the same ways
  • be kind, flexible and sensitive
  • remember the spirit of the tradition
  • concentrate on the good and focus on the positive
  • be free to create your own unique rituals

Take a listen to Dr Schomer explain how traditions can provide cheer:


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