In the first part of this two-part blog, I discussed the value of family rituals and traditions around Christmas time. The main benefits that were explored in my previous blog were:

  • Family rituals and traditions offer families an opportunity to make new memories and to also recall and process past memories
  • Family members might make it a point to keep their time free from other commitments to be able to adhere to traditions and rituals
  • Family traditions may bridge the gap between the different family generations.

In this second part of the blog, I wished to also speak about how family traditions around Christmas time might also act as a stressor for family members in particular situations. If a family member is, for instance, experiencing financial difficulties, and the family holds a gift-giving tradition on Christmas day, then this family member could experience tension and stress when trying to stick to this family tradition. Another example could be that a family member had experienced a loss or is going through a difficult period, and their family would still wish them to join the celebratory traditions. This is because traditions and rituals might, in a sense, set a standard of what is expected to happen at a particular time of the year, and having to steer away from these standards for whichever reason, might leave a person feeling stressed, ashamed or anxious.

Something that could support a family in such situations is that of having an element of flexibility in their traditions. If it is not realistic to stick to the tradition of grand gift-giving at Christmas time, or if gift-giving is a tradition that will lead to tension and stress, then the family can be creative and develop other strategies that could still lead to the same effect. For instance, a family can decide to give each other a letter or a message. At the end of the day, if we think of the meaning behind gift-giving, it would typically boil down to showing the other person that you have thought of them, and there are many ways to pass this message to someone.




Rebecca Cassar is a Family Therapist practicing the Systemic Approach. She specializes in offering therapy to families, couples and individuals who are experiencing distress in their relationships. She can be contacted on or call us on 79291817.