Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, which some people really enjoy participating in and others detest. I have also heard it referred to as Single Awareness Day, a day that highlights the single-ness of unpartnered people.
Like it or not, society has many of these societal rituals. One particularly salient one for me is tomorrow – the Chinese New Year, or the Lunar New Year. My family and I usually get together around this time, eat a lot of food, and exchange ‘hong bao’, which are red envelopes of money. It’s like Christmas except children get money instead of presents.
Rituals are very important, particularly in families and partnerships, in creating and maintaining a shared identity. In my work with families, sometimes I talk about ‘family rituals’, which are regular celebrations, routines, traditions, and quirky activities the family do together. They are different from public holidays and celebrations or commemorations in that they are more personalised and meaningful for the people involved. Sometimes they can tie into societal rituals, like going to the beach for Australia Day, but more often than not they are daily differences, like reading a book together in the evenings.
Rituals help families and partners experience predictability and security, as well as create shared values and a positive sense of belonging that strengthen relationships. They can also help us maintain a routine. So if strengthening a relationship is something that you have in mind, consider the following: