Marshall Stevenson
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Unique Family Traditions from Around the World

Here are the best family vacations where you can learn and explore new cultures.

When was the last time you participated in a family tradition? Chances are, you didn’t even have to think about it as it was just a common custom your family did, and has been doing, since you were young. Family traditions—both big and small—can be found the world over, and if you were looking to add some different traditions to your familial unit, consider these ideas.

A Butsudan—Japan

The Japanese are very passionate about respecting, honoring, and remembering their ancestors. They do so by placing a small family altar, or a butsudan, in their home, and periodically make offers to their ancestors. This can be anything from your ancestor’s favorite food, or a bouquet of flowers to honor the ones you’ve lost. The goal of these altars is to keep the memory of your loved one alive at all times in your home.

Take special care of animals—India

India has a culture that really cares for animals, and emphasizes that no one animal is better than another, and that everyone is created equally. Every year, India celebrates the Hindu harvest festival, Thai Pongai, where families give the animals around them some extra treats and food. This can easily be done, no matter where you live. You can create some bird feeders, leave out some treats for the squirrels and bunnies in your backyard, and make a trip to a local farm to feed the livestock. Giving back to the animals will help you remember how little you are, and the impact of the animals around you.

Sinterklaas poems—Holland

Sinterklaas is the Dutch holiday season, and it comes with a tradition that many wordsmiths will love. This is usually reserved for older members of the family. Each person will draw a name from a hat, and then write a poem about that person while sitting around the fire and enjoying a nice hot drink. The goal is to be mischievous, and most families will vote on what poem is the funniest. For some Dutch families, this is the most prized gift given during the Holiday season, as it is the most personal gift you can give. However, buying a loved one a gift, such as sister bracelets, and other personalized gifts, is also a common practice.

Tooth fairy teeth—India, Korea, and Vietnam

It is a fairly standard practice in the United States to put a tooth underneath your pillow, and the tooth fairy will come and leave a little present or some money. But in cultures such as India, Korea, and Vietnam, the children are encouraged to throw the tooth far into their backyard. Then during the throw, the child must wish that the tooth becomes that of a mouse, because mice keep their teeth for their entire life.

A coming-of-age ceremony—Native American cultures

The Navajo Native Americans have a very special ceremony to commemorate a girl’s coming of age. Known as a kinaalda, preteen and teenage girls are asked to run in foot races, and compete in other physical events to show the sheer power and strength of womanhood. In addition, after a girl menstruates, they will wear special clothing to commemorate the “Changing Woman.” In Navajo culture, the Changing Woman is a god that grants longevity. As the Changing Woman ages, she is able to become youthful again by walking towards the east, and turning counterclockwise four times. The ceremony for this coming-of-age in Navajo girls is revered, and is something to look forward to.

Anywhere you look, there are family traditions. Try something new while embracing new cultures by adopting these practices in your home.

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Unique Family Traditions from Around the World
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