Tradition in the making
Writing about traditions over the past few months has been very interesting and informative. However, I have been wondering just what it takes to make and tradition and how traditions came to be.
The word tradition comes from the Latin traditionem, acc. of traditio which means "handing over, passing on", and is used in a number of ways in the English language:
1. Beliefs or customs taught by one generation to the next, often orally. For example, we can speak of the tradition of sending birth announcements.
2. A set of customs or practices. For example, we can speak of Christmas traditions.
3. A broad religious movement made up of religious denominations or church bodies that have a common history, customs, culture, and, to some extent, body of teachings. For example, one can speak of Islam's Sufi tradition or Christianity's Lutheran tradition.
However, on a more basic theoretical level, tradition(s) can be seen as information or composed of information. For this is brought into the present from the past, in a particular societal context, is information. This is even more fundamental than particular acts or practices even if repeated over a long sequence of time.
A tradition is a practice, custom, or story that is memorized and passed down from generation to generation, originally without the need for a writing system. Tools to aid this process include poetic devices such as rhyme and alliteration. The stories thus preserved are also referred to as tradition, or as part of an oral tradition. Traditions are often presumed to be ancient, unalterable, and deeply important, though they may sometimes be much less "natural" than is presumed. Some traditions were deliberately invented for one reason or another, often to highlight or enhance the importance of a certain institution. Traditions may also be changed to suit the needs of the day, and the changes can become accepted as a part of the ancient tradition. I found it very interesting to find that the main way of passing on traditions was through poetic rhyme. With all the technological advancements it is easy to forget the very basics of communication, how information was shared and spread, and the art of storytelling.