Why Are Traditions Important
I want to explore the importance of traditions. Not just for the sake of it but for the other benefits of maintaining our brain health. I hope to make the case for traditions not only on religious grounds but on health and wellness.
The Human Brain
Recent advancements in the study of the human brain have found out the true meaning of short term memory. Our brain has a long term memory and a short term memory. They serve different purposes. The short term memory allows us to plan and guide or daily lives. When a person looses his short term memory, such as by accident or injury, he is unable to function. Every day becomes a new experience. There is no sense of time and a plan for daily activities.
The brain relies on billions of interconnections of neurons to allow us to make sense of the world. A health brain contains numerous parallel connections that combines all senses to produce an awareness and a sensation of "knowing." Traditions plays and important role in that it re-enforces our cognitive ability to understand and to enjoy our lives. Without this, our lives will be full of repetition just as a robot in a factory that repeats the same operations hour after hour and day after day.
What the Christmas Tradition Bring
Just to use Christmas as an example of a tradition that are celebrated by a vast majority in the USA. You don't even have to be a Christian to get the benefits.
- Christmas Tree and wreaths
- Christmas carols
- Christmas cards / greetings
- Christmas lights and decorations
- Christmas gifts
- Christmas charity giving
- Christmas meals / family gatherings
- Christmas shopping
- Christmas Eve Mass
- Christmas prayer
- Christmas National Holiday
Besides the global traditions of Christmas, there are individual traditions that each family may adopt. The small things such as decorating the tree with ornaments may bring back fond memories.
As a Catholic, I am well familiar with the liturgical calendar and the weekly Mass. There is more to this than meets the eye. Did you know the various color vestments that the priests wear matches with the calendar? This is also a reminder of the seasons. Remember earlier my discussion of the human brain. By making a parallel connection between the various seasons using color as another connection, it helps the brain remember. The incense in churches act as an olfactory reminder.
The same goes with the order of the Mass. Did you know the various parts of the Mass is repeated exactly the same across the world regardless of which local language is conducted? On my various trips to Italy, Germany, Israel, Taiwan and Russia, every Mass has the same format as my local parish in NY. That is pretty amazing.
The brain is an amazing organ. It needs a certain order to process. Imaging if you wake up each day and have to re-learn everything. It would not work very well and you certainly will not progress very far. By way of repetition, and tradition, our brain is able to process where we stand in the "big" picture. Where there is tradition, we feel a sense of order, a comfort knowing that all is well.
Catholic Liturgical Calendar
In the musical "Fiddler on the Roof," one of my favorite tune is called "Traditions." It pretty much explains how some traditions come about and why people follow them.
It is hard for me to believe that some people are actually against traditions. I was surprised recently on HubPages when one hubber said traditions are a form of discrimination. He claims that traditions are a form of oppression by the "haves" on the "have not."
Some young people are taught that certain traditions are outdated and obsolete. They are indoctrinated to think that our civilization have advanced past many of the biases and old beliefs. They are wrong. Traditions do serve a purpose and if they didn't exist today, they would have to be invented. That is the reason every civilization and religion have their own traditions. It will help your brain remember and stay healthy and enjoy life.