This weekend concluded Holy Week and Easter (Pascha) for Orthodox Christians. A week full of Church services culminating in a festive Easter day full of traditions. From the barbecueing of whole lambs, to red Easter eggs, to traditional ethnic foods. All part of tradition.
Where do traditions take root? Primarily they get embeded during our youth. What others teach us as being important. Providing a script for us to follow making whatever the tradition very recognizable to those that have experienced it before.
Opening Christmas gifts always after our Christmas meal. Going to the beach every summer for July 4th. Baking chocolate chip cookies to take to Aunt Martha’s for Thanksgiving where she always hosts us with a great meal. Always, celebrating Christmas eve at our mother-in-law’s because it was her birthday.
In many ways, traditions make happenings easier. They require less thought. Especially once you know the script. They become almost automatic in our lives.
But why almost? Tradition does have its enemies that try to degrade and pull apart what once was so sacred. Time and convenience are its primary combatants.
In our rushed life, saving time becomes more sacred. We are too busy to bake the cookies. It takes a day in half before Easter to buy a lamb, baste it prior to barbecuing, prepare it on a spit so that it does not move, and storing it prior to the day of celebration. Who has the time? It’s easier to buy fried chicken for our guests.
Convenience has trained us to expect immediate gratification for little effort. We could easily Skype or Facetime Aunt Martha to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving because we did not have the time to make her chocolate chip cookies that she truly enjoys. It frees us from going to her house for dinner this year.
Be careful before you take these shortcuts. The enemies of tradition get excited when you do. What slowly gets lost when you do this, is the meaning and feelings we get when acting out the script of tradition we were handed.
Remembering that the responsibility of teaching tradition to our youth primarily rests on us as adults. The young conveniently get blamed for abandoning tradition without us ever looking in the mirror to reflect and understand that we ourselves, became the enemy of tradition, by what we chose not to do any longer.