Nurturing & Establishing Traditions

When I wrote a post about Immigrants beating those Christmas blues, it got me thinking more about traditions and the value it offers to immigrants. Carrying over some old traditions and making new traditions in your new country can often help one feel more at home. If lacking that sense of association within your surroundings and relations, traditions can create something that’s predictably familiar and comforting as the years go by; not just for yourself but hopefully for others too. I encourage using traditions to help along immigration adaptation, adventure, connection, and joyous gratitude.

The wonderful thing about traditions is that they can be uniquely catered to each person, family, and community, meeting the needs of hopefully every individual. Not only can this do wonders for mental health for immigrants who may be struggling with their immigration, but it’s a way to spread the joy to others too. Culturally we often hold onto learnt traditions and some we may reject, but as a parent, I find it’s a blessing to be able to pass on traditions to our children and encourage them to create new ones of their own as well. I have found it fun to share some of our South African traditions with our Canadian friends; even when it goes wrong, like the time we served roast lamb for Christmas to Canadian friends who were not accustomed to eating lamb. These events can become funny stories and good memories.   

Partaking in community, provincial and national holiday traditions can develop a sense of belonging in your new country. For example, our family experiences this now by wholeheartedly celebrating Thanksgiving and Canada Day with our fellow Canadians. It goes beyond holidays though. Perhaps, like us, you have moved from a country that doesn’t have such distinct seasons as Canada has and if so, there is so much to savour in that. I can only encourage everyone to seek out what is unique to your new home and consider implementing yearly traditions around that.

For a little seasonal inspiration, I love to go hiking in the Spring where there are trails that are abundant with the splendor and beauty of our Okanagan Sunflowers, bright new green leaves, blossoms, and berries. In Fall, I search for the trails with the best Fall colours while enjoying all things cinnamon, pumpkin and apple spice. I am personally not a fan of winter, but a winter wonderland certainly has its charm and can be full of traditions outside of Christmas. Summer traditions for us include things like which beaches and lakes we’ll visit and walking along one of our favourite creeks where we swim to its waterfall once in the season. Unique to our greater area are things like the drive in and various local events in parks and vineyards. Perhaps you’ll enjoy seasonal sports, roadshows, markets, cultural events, hunting, a fun fair or rodeo tour. The point is, put yourself out there and be curious about new experiences and activities.

My husband and I didn’t grow up in camping families and yet we were intrigued by Canadians and their love of the outdoors and camping. After a few years in Canada, we finally took the plunge and decided to try it out for ourselves, fully prepared that it might not be our thing and that we were destined for glamping at best. Much to our pleasant surprise (and our relatives for that matter), we absolutely loved it! We may never camp in a tent for longer than a long weekend, but we felt so Canadian after that experience and it’s a new tradition that is rejuvenating to our souls and a cost-effective fun family holiday at that.

With optimism, many of your experiences in your new country in those early years is likened to a honeymoon phase that never completely dies out. When all the lovely firsts happen, the newness and excitement that comes with that creates strong memories. Purposefully reliving some of these joyful experiences hopefully brings those good memories back to life and can foster gratitude for the opportunity of making it a tradition. When you have lived in your new country for some years, novelties may wear off, but I find when I go back to some of those unique experiences or locations that are locked in with powerful memories, I am reminded of how much I have gained in my new country.

It is the first week of January as I write this, so I cannot help but mention one of the oldest traditions that has impacted many cultures – New Years resolutions. I was inspired by my pastor’s encouragement to implement spiritual growth, stewardship of the body, community engagement, service, and gratitude into 2024. Perhaps this can serve you too in some way when trying to decide which traditions to start, revive or nurture going forward.


Jirásek, I., Roberson, D. N., & Jirásková, M. (2017). The Impact of Families Camping Together: Opportunities for Personal and Social Development. Leisure Sciences, 39(1), 79-93.

Oregon Counseling. (Dec 23, 2021). “Why Traditions matter to mental health”.

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