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The Role Food Plays in Family Traditions

Food gives opportunities for learning within our families. Food teaches us about cooking and nutrition, meal planning, money management, and wise buying. It provides opportunity for families to learn about responsibility and tasks, as well as working and spending time together. Food clearly serves a purpose other than merely fueling our bodies.

Food is an essential component of celebrations in countries around the world, regardless of culture or religion. It can serve to connect and deepen communal bonds, as well as sustain a group's common identity. Food is used in different cultures to help commemorate occasions such as Christmas, New Year's, weddings, and birthdays.

The following are some wonderful examples of the meaning of food in our lives:

We always spend Christmas Eve with my mother's side of the family. Oyster stew, chili, and chicken noodle soup are always on the menu. My grandmother always prepared chicken noodle soup from scratch. When she became too sick and feeble to make it herself, she taught others how to do it for her. She's been gone for a few years but creating and eating that soup is how we commemorate and remember her.

My family has a tradition of praying before meals, either alone or collectively. We always hold hands and pray before eating together. When we get together for the holidays (35–50 people) we make a huge circle, hold hands, and pray before a meal. Praying together allows us to pause, think, and express thanks for the food, people, and faith in our lives.

My family has a couple of culinary rituals: we bless our food together, we eat special meals, if not most meals, at the table together, and we talk about our "good news" for the day at dinner. If the children finish all their food, after supper they are given a sweet treat. Eating together enables us to check in with each other and spend meaningful time together.

One month from today is #GivingTuesday. As part of Home Hospice Association's campaign this year, we are focusing on the theme of “Nourishing our Hearts to Ease Suffering,” and we are seeking donations of $50 gift cards. Each donation helps us reach this year’s goal of raising $10,800.00, which will provide 240 hours of care to those who need it. You can learn more about how to contribute here.

When you make a contribution to Home Hospice Association, you are helping to ease the suffering of our dying and those who love them. We were deeply grateful for your support.


Harshida Patel is one of HHA’s co-op students, working as a Project Manager. You can learn more about the co-op program here.

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