THE meaning of ’Tradition’, whether you read it on Google or in that dictionary in the corner of your shelf, will tell you that it is the passing down, from generation to generation, ideas, customs, beliefs and stories.
In the film Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye the dairyman tells us about the value of tradition. Without it, he says, “our lives would be shaky.” The late Eamonn Kelly, Seanachaí and Storyteller, always started his stories with the line, “In my father’s time.”
To get closer to home, how often have we heard it said, “In our family this is how it has always been done.”
There is the danger to think that tradition had its place in the dim and distant past and has no bearing on our present progressive lives.
But the fact of the matter is that it is enormously important. After all, tradition is what helps us to reinforce the beliefs and values we hold so dearly.
Of course the way that things have always been done may seem restrictive so we may just take them for granted, or worse, discard them entirely and think.
“That’s just old fashioned.” But it is like good health: we take it for granted until we lose it.
Tradition also gives us a sense of place and a feeling of belonging to a family or group which stretches both into the past but also into the future, if we make the effort to pass on to the next generation, the best of what we have learned.
It can be like a family heirloom, treasured momentarily, put away on a shelf or locked in a drawer.
Temporarily forgotten until we are reminded of it and then we search for what was of value. If it is not preserved, it is gone forever.
Tradition is rooted in the past but reaches out to the future. Things are changing constantly.
The world changes and so do we. But deep down, the essence of who we are is rooted in what has been passed on to us, the core beliefs and way of life we value.
We are also emotionally connected with traditions. We live in an ever quickening world where we seem to have less and less time to spend together.
Sometimes the only occasions to gather family and friends are during the traditional holiday times.
Our main holidays, the Hallowe’ens, Christmases, Summer holidays, birthdays and anniversaries are usually built around the way things were always done.
That’s what gives us comfort. It can be like slipping into a pair of old slippers.
Tradition also honours those who have gone before us. It keeps their memories alive. It is like a never ending story that includes all those we loved and from whom we learned the best of what they had to offer.
Tradition also helps us to place ourselves as characters in the stories that future generations of our families and friends will tell when they dig deep into their box of memories and remember what we had to hand down.
This will all come to life, courtesy of Lake Productions, in Mark Doherty’s surreal comedy Trad.
A 100 year old man and his father look at the value of tradition. It is a story full of passion and longing and a request from the father which his son seems unable to fulfil.
The past has its secrets and . . . but I don’t want to give too much away.
It’s best that you go to see how traditions affected this odd duo of father and son, as well as enjoying a night of theatrical fun, pathos and a look at family history.
Trad, by Mark Doherty, directed by Donal Gallagher. Cast: Derek Dooley, Mike Kelly, Joe Murray.
Live music will be played during the performance by Dan Ryan and Jimmy Conroy.
Venue: Cleere’s Theatre, Kilkenny, November 14 to 17.