A baby wearing a Santa hat sits in front of a Christmas tree and smiles big. Multiple presents are placed in front of him.
A new baby adds a whole new dimension to the holidays. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Life gets busier than ever at this time of year.

Family, friends, food, parties, get togethers and plenty of other obligations just seem to gobble up the schedule.

And if you’re pregnant this holiday season—or if you’re new parents—you have much more to think about.

There will be the typical adjustments to having a newborn. This is true no matter what time of year, although when you factor in the holidays, it just seems things get busy rather quickly.

This season also reminds me of traditions and things our family has done for years. We have new traditions that have begun with us, but then we have some older traditions that my husband and I did with our families growing up.

Passed down from generation to generation, seasonal traditions can instill in your children a feeling of belonging to something special that your family does each year.

Globe-trotting: Holiday traditions

  • Ecuador: They make a straw man and burn him at New Year’s, in hopes he’ll “burns away” their faults as they start the new year.
  • Japan: New Year’s Eve is the second most important holiday. Families eat a late meal and then celebrate the day together.
  • France: They celebrate Christmas much like us, but Father Christmas is Pere Noel. Shoes are left by the fireplace to be filled with treats.
  • Ukraine: The Holy Supper begins when the first star is seen in the sky.
  • Iceland: Christmas, called Yule Day, is celebrated with family. Lamb is usually served. Each family can shape their leaf bread.

In our childbirth classes, I often ask soon-to-be parents to think about something from their childhood that they’d like to continue with their own children. We also talk about traditions they may want to start with their growing family.

People mention all kinds of wonderful things—dining together as a family, camping, taking family vacations, playing outdoors.

What are some traditions in our family?

• We put the tree up and decorate it while listening to Christmas music. Then we eat sugar cookies and sip hot chocolate together.

• We all sleep around the Christmas tree.

• We read the Christmas story and sing some carols.

• We make Christmas treats and give them to neighbors.

• The children receive a new ornament each year.

As you start your new family—or as you grow the family you already have—what traditions do you want to establish with your children?