3 Ideas for New Holiday Traditions That Will Keep Your Family Healthy

Stay warm and resilient through the season with these tips for starting family traditions

The holiday season is ideally a time filled with joy and excitement for all ages. It can, unfortunately, also come with stress, sickness and bad habits. Keeping your family strong and resilient throughout the season ensures that you can focus on the joy and let the stress take a hike. However, this does not come simply. It requires some effort on everyone’s part to stay on top of a healthy holiday season. 

Starting healthy holiday season traditions is an excellent strategy for success.

Traditions are incredibly important in building and maintaining a strong family foundation. They help our children to mark the passing of time and offer another layer of seasonality to their lives. When traditions are personal, purposeful and created together as a family, they will pass on to your children the values that you, as parents, hold strongly. This is a great way to teach your children practices that they will likely continue into their future lives. Traditions also create lasting memories. When asked about favourite childhood memories, older adolescents and adults will often reminisce on the consistent traditions that were a part of their childhood years. 

Starting family traditions does not have to be an overwhelming task. Start small and be in constant conversation with your family group. These decisions do not have to be all on you as a parent, but having a clear intention and desired outcome will help guide the process. 

Traditions can be something you all do together every day, every week or every season. There are no rules and no limitations but your imagination! Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Pay attention to prevention 

When it comes to the holiday season, we want to encourage healthy habits through a sometimes-unhealthy time. Prevention is always a great place to focus. With the holiday season comes a great shift in temperature (at least in Canada) and so preparing and supporting our bodies through that transition is paramount. Use a tradition to educate your children and yourselves around the idea that as it gets colder, we have to keep our bodies warmer. 

You can do this in a variety of ways. One easy practice to add into a daily routine is wearing scarves at all times when outside. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the back of the neck is known as our “wind gate,” which is where pathogens sneak in and make us sick. An easy way to protect our wind gate and ward off any possible invaders is to wear a scarf. Having fun scarves in the house that everyone can wear, and learning how to tie them in different ways can be a fun and effective way of warding off those first seasonal chills. 

Use a tradition to educate your children and yourselves around the idea that as it gets colder, we have to keep our bodies warmer.

We can also warm the body through food! It is no coincidence that green, leafy and light foods do not grow at this time of year. These foods are considered energetically cold and offer a cooling effect to our bodies, which is perfect in those hot summer months. This time of year, hardier vegetables are abundant, which are only enjoyed once roasted and stewed, creating warming food for our bodies and soul. Having some favorite food recipes to start incorporating at this time of year is a way to stay on top of the chilliness of the outdoors. 

Bone broth is another warming tradition that can start at this time of year that is both delicious and nutritious. Bone broth made from organic, grass-fed cow or chicken offers a plethora of minerals and nutrients, all of which increase our immunity and gut health. You can easily throw a pot on the stove or slow cooker and enjoy throughout the week (if it will last that long!) 

2. Out with the old, in with the new 

The holiday season can also be a time of accumulation in our life. Another tradition that can be started at this time of year is a mindful purge of items not being used or outgrown. By doing this, we physically and energetically create more space for the new objects and opportunities the season will bring. This is a great time to encourage your kids to acknowledge how fortunate they are and how others may benefit from items that may not be so dear to their hearts any longer. It fosters an attitude of giving in a season that can sometimes be more about getting. 

3. Fill up with fun 

Of course you also want to create some traditions that will be remembered for the laughter and smiles they inspired! Laughter is also an incredibly healthy dose of medicine. Do you have something you can do together on the first day it snows? Perhaps you all take a day to make Christmas cards for friends and family, or to deliver to a shelter or nursing home. Now is wonderful time to include your children in brainstorming what you can do together as a family to spread the good cheer the holiday season is all about. 

Whatever you end up doing together as a family, make a point of highlighting the beginning of the season so everyone is on the same page. Talk to your kids about why these are important health practices to engage in and bring in new levels of information at age-appropriate levels. Do not be afraid to play around with new traditions until you find the ones that fit with your family the best. 

Stay warm!