Frequent Questions and Concerns about Celebrating Holidays and Special Occasions

Why are holidays and celebrations important?

Experts say that holidays and celebrations that have meaningful routines and rituals create and strengthen healthy families.1 During times of family stress, they can provide shelter and predictability for family members. Holidays and celebrations bring family members together as they look forward to, plan, and work together to create a celebration.

Which holidays are worth celebrating?

It depends on the family. Some families have strong traditions with the Thanksgiving holiday because it’s a holiday that fits most families and their values. Some families celebrate specific holidays within their religious traditions. Some celebrate an adoption arrival day (often called “Gotcha’ Day.”) Others, such as military families, celebrate Veterans Day and American Independence Day. What matters is celebrating holidays that mean a lot to your family through the generations.

What’s the big deal about birthdays?

A birthday celebrates the day someone is born and marks years of growth. For many families, a birthday celebration highlights how happy they are that a family member is here, and that she was born into their family. Even as kids get older, birthdays still matter. The traditions and rituals may need to change to reflect and acknowledge growing up, but they’re still important markers. Kids also see that birthdays are important for adults when they mark certain milestones, such as a grandparent turning 75 or a great-grandparent reaching the age of 90. Even a parent who is ambivalent about growing older can celebrate turning 29 every year and have some fun with it.

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1. Barbara Friese and others, “A Review of 50 Years of Research on Naturally Occurring Family Routines and Rituals: Cause for Celebration?” Journal of Family Psychology 16, no. 4 (2002): 381-390.