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The Importance of Traditions in 2020

By Extension Assistant Professor, Tasha Killian 

Carving pumpkins

This year has thrown many new challenges to parents. Maintaining a routine and helping your family stay stable during this time of chaos can be hard.  We’ve gone from knowing when school, ballet and soccer are scheduled to needing to find activities for your children to do, make sure they can get online and participate, and try to maintain some sort of normal. If you are struggling to keep a level of sanity during this time you are not alone.

According to researchers in Colorado and Arizona, COVID-19 is an outside stressor that has the potential to overwhelm parents (Brown, et al., 2020). They theorize that because there is little control over the actual events happening, strain is being put on relationships between parents and children. However, there are things you can do to combat these issues. According to the same researchers, parents who have perceived control over their circumstances tend to have less stress and better relationships. One way you can create this perceived control is by incorporating traditions into your routine.

According to researchers at BYU traditions provide a sense of identity, a source of strength and a sense of connection for families (Newell, n.d.). As we enter the holiday seasons for the year 2020, it may be a good idea to think through traditions you currently have and work on ways to adapt them based on your local guidelines and family traditions. For example, if you live in an area where trick or treating is restricted, or you do not feel comfortable going trick or treating like normal, you could find a local organization with a safe trunk or treat. If you are unable to travel to visit family for the holidays, you can utilize technology and have a game night via Zoom or set an extra place at the table and Facetime during dinner. You also have the option of adopting completely new traditions.

Some of the best traditions are born from spontaneity. For example, one Christmas Eve at my home, there were some circumstances our of our control  that left my mom feeling tired and needing a new dinner option.  The solution she came up with was ordering Chinese take-out. This has now become a yearly Christmas Eve tradition we all look forward to each year. With all the change that has happened this year, it may be a perfect time to start a new tradition like a costume fashion show or a Thanksgiving baking contest.

Traditions may seem like they are harder to implement this year, but this year may be one of the most important years to implement them. As parents struggle with the current situation and the lack of control that seems to accompany  a world-wide pandemic, being able to implement traditions can provide your family with strength, connection, and a sense of identity. It can also give parents the ability to control something, even if it may seem small, and know they are making a difference. Whether your traditions will need to be adapted,  built, or can stay the same this year, remember traditions can be powerful tools to bring your family closer together.


  • Brown, S. M., Doom, J. R., Lechuga-Peña, S., Watamura, S. E., & Koppels, T. (2020). Stress and parenting during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Child Abuse & Neglect. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2020.104699
  • Newell, L. (n.d.). Traditions a foundation for strong families. Marriage & Families. Retrieved from https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=marriageandfamilies