Community Resolution #6 – Start or Re-start a Tradition
Do you ever wonder about where a tradition comes from? Someone starts one, other people enjoy it, they all want to enjoy it again, participants have even more ideas on how to make it better and then they come to expect it. Have you ever heard your child saying, “If we didn’t do (insert tradition here), it just wouldn’t be Christmas (or Easter, or Thanksgiving). The dictionary has some interesting meanings that gives us a better appreciation of the importance of a tradition:
- A passing down of elements of culture from generation to generation, a custom
- A mode of behaviour followed by people continuously from generation to generation
- A time-honoured practice related to our heritage
Stories are a way to pass history along from one generation to the next, but a tradition can be an interactive and participative way to carry on the important experiences of culture. By participating in the tradition, we feel a connection to each other, to all those who took part in this tradition in the past, along with a sense of responsibility to mentor those who will carry on the tradition in the future. And as the present generation, we carry the torch. No pressure, right? Starting a tradition may also involve re-starting a tradition, if the torch has been dropped somewhere along the way.
This leads us to our next community resolution, #6 …
Start or re-start a tradition.
This resolution may require making a cup of coffee or tea and sitting down to think and make a few notes while answering these questions:
- Are there any traditions that your parents or grandparents took part in that have fallen by the wayside and you miss taking part in them? Were any of these traditions part of a community activity? What were they? What did you enjoy about them or hearing about them?
- If you or we as a community restarted any of these traditions, how would they be modernized or made more relatable to our current times? This could be an excellent conversation to have with children or grandchildren to get their input. Firstly, they will enjoy hearing about the ol’ days and, secondly, they will bring fresh new ideas on how it could be done to attract younger people who will, in turn, want to carry on a tradition.
- Are there any new traditions that we could start as a community?
If traditions connect us as a community and over generations, maybe this is part of the reason why communities struggle…they stop taking part in the activities or customs that once tied them together. Technology has influenced the evolution of communities over time. You once walked around your community; you then took a horse and buggy to the neighbouring communities; then you took a car, plane, ship or train to distant communities. The internet allows us to have a virtual community via the Clyde River website, for example. The underlying action is “interaction” and “traditions” are interactions we enjoy and want to do again because they represent who we are as a culture and our history as a community.
Maybe checking in to the website to read the latest stories has become a type of tradition that has been adapted from the days of meeting at the corner store to hear community news. It is possible our lecture series at the old Clyde River School is helping us connect to the tradition of learning that once took place there. Joy Fit classes might remind us of all the fun we had during recess at school e.g. hopscotch, skipping ropes or team sports. We celebrate Canada Day each year with hotdogs and ice-cream, and the kids enjoy playing old-time games. There is an annual Christmas Party where we get to play in skits and games just like in the old school concerts. The Strawberry Social brings together people of all ages and those home from away for a reunion. Art in the Park reminds us of the stories of generations past that enjoyed the spirit of play and creativity that existed at the old Murchison Place property, now Murchison Place Park. The children that now play in the park may not know its history but they connect with its tradition. Other events like the Apple Pie Festival felt like times in our community’s history when people worked together to achieve a common purpose.
Thinking about our traditions is great homework for our next Clyde River lecture with David Weale on Thursday evening, February 21st at 7:00 p.m. He will present “The Communal Islander – The Challenges to Island Communities”.
Also, Monday, February 18th is Family Day in PEI. Are there any traditions that you, your family, friends, neighbours could take part in that would connect you to an important tradition or experience that you remember enjoying or hearing about from the past? As important as this day is, don’t you think our ancestors would have a little chuckle and maybe shake their heads to hear that we have become so busy in our lives that now “Family Day” has to be an organized holiday once a year?
The underlying theme in our community resolutions is about making something a priority, starting to do it and, ultimately, making it a “habit” or even better “a tradition”. Here are a few suggestions on traditions you could start or re-start on “Family Day” or any day:
- Take a sleigh ride at Pott’s Farm in Argyle Shore.
- Go tobogganing or skiing at Brookvale Ski Park. They have a two-for-one special on Family Day.
- Cornwall is hosting “Outdoor Family Fun” from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. at the Terry Fox Sports Complex.
- Or create your own family/friends/neighbours event and, if it gets a “thumbs up”, think about making it a tradition.
As for community traditions, well, that is something we may have a chance to discuss on Thursday evening with David Weale and at future events. The goal of the Friends of Clyde River’s, Historical Education Committee, is to get your ideas and feedback on what activities we could undertake to support historical learning for both those with deep connections to Clyde River and for those who are new to the community and want to understand more about the history of their chosen home. And let’s remember our virtual community that connects with us on our website. Maybe, it will require a second cup of coffee…so much to think about!