The importance of keeping traditions alive at college

Amy McNeel

Before I became a student at Grand Valley State University, I was scared that college meant nothing was going to be the same again. In many ways, I was right. Some things are just never the way they were before. As we enter college, we meet new people, learn new things and go through all sorts of new experiences. In many ways, college is a journey that is constantly evolving. However, with all this newness, some things never change. For me, these things are traditions, and whether they are small or big, each one leaves a lasting impact. 

While I was away on winter break, I realized how powerful and important traditions are. A tradition is an action that is passed on from generation to generation, but it can also be something that a group of people do annually. For me, traditions include our Christmas-tree-ornament night, a “beach house blast” trip to Florida to see my extended family and a Panera outing with my best friends when we get back home from school. While these are simple, they give me something to look forward to as well as something to cherish. 

Our experiences and environment shape who we are as people, so it’s no surprise that traditions leave a lasting impact on our lives. According to Katherine Rose of HuffPost, traditions “propel us forward as human beings in life wisdom, understanding and even emotional intellect.” I think that the traditions in my life are a part of who I am. They have taught me that simple things in life are often times the most important things. states that customs are important because “our unique cultural traditions have the greatest potential to help in this process of self-definition, to contribute to well-being, and to cultivate an all-important sense of belonging and a healthy perspective of our place in the world.”

Furthermore, traditions bind people together. As shown in my own life examples, traditions can exist between both family groups and friend groups. When a tradition is formed and then continued, people can build similar values and grow closer together. This is important because a lack of traditions can create a sort of disconnection and absence of belonging. 

While at college, traditions can be hard to maintain. However, it’s important to know that whatever the time or effort they may take, they are ultimately worthwhile. My time at home with family and friends provided me with much-needed familiarity and brought me back down to earth from the college chaos. While at school, my friends and I also create our own traditions, from painting pumpkins to hosting a “Friendsgiving” and decorating our own Christmas tree. These were things that we were all familiar with in our own ways that helped us get closer and have great times as a result. 

Overall, our traditions shape who we are personally as well as who we are in our social circles. They are important and worthwhile. As written by Joseph Stein, “Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as … as … as a fiddler on the roof!”