Feature Article: Writing About Community Traditions

by | Sep 1, 2021 | Featured Article | 0 comments

Writing and publishing local community traditions is as essential as preserving national culture and heritage.

A tradition is a critical piece of any culture of any society or civilization. It is the transmission of customs or beliefs and practices handed from generation to generation. Without tradition, there is no preservation culture or even a collective memory of a people. Traditions form the structure and foundation of our families, society, and even a nation. Because traditions carry the collective consciousness of a people, a race, or a civilization, traditions are potent reminders that we are linked to the past. The people of today are shaped by past traditions and practices handed over to us. Abandoning tradition is abandoning culture and heritage, and thus abandoning our identity and that of our forefathers. Traditions are the reasons why we remember past events, mark our calendars and celebrate holidays. That is why it is important to talk, write and honor traditions no matter how small or grand they are. Local traditions and National traditions are both essential.

Preserving Local Traditions through Written Stories

Originally, traditions, beliefs, and culture were handed over orally and through practice. But the majority, if not all, of the existing traditions, would not have survived today if not for the preserved writings, encoded symbols, and other published materials that discuss these traditions. Literature plays a vital role in preserving tradition, even today. However, many local traditions are now lost or have not been appropriately recorded in the past. There are many factors for this, including the size of a population practicing a specific culture, location, accessibility to the main language, etc. Even today, there are still traditions and cultures that have not been documented. The world may never know of them if we don’t write about them, especially local community traditions.

Local community traditions are the ones that are harder to document because of the factors mentioned above. And with modernization, many of these local traditions and cultures have been lost or trivialized. The commercialization of holidays and celebrations has reduced many traditions into non-working events in the calendar.

One way to preserve and pay homage to local traditions is to write stories about them. Patchwork: Conversations Between Generations by Carol Wilson-Mack is one perfect example of writing about a local community. Published in 2020, Patchwork is a collection of stories that feature the stories and lives of women living in rural Bamberg, South Carolina, between 1939 and 1959. This group of God-centered women built a community where members can help their families through Quilting, a local industry in the area. What began as a quilting activity formed a platform for these women to share their stories. Women from different generations bonded together and form a tradition in their small local community.

Carol Wilson-Mack’s narrative is an inspiration for today’s women. Through their tradition and stories, the women of today can learn many important lessons- industry, solidarity, and empowerment. Out there are plenty of local communities with hundreds of stories waiting to be heard. Discovering and documenting these local stories and traditions is an integral part of nation-building. Preserving their stories and history is a part of national heritage. While the modern age has produced many distractions for us to explore history and traditions, we can use modern technology to identify, collect, and preserve local community traditions. Digital documentation, publishing, and archiving will greatly help secure these local stories rich in lessons, moral values, and collective memories. And all these can start with writing about local community cultures. Whether it’s a collection of short stories, a biography, or a novel featuring a local community tradition, literature remains a powerful tool in preserving culture and tradition.

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