Eating dinner as a family is a cultural tradition virtually everywhere in the world. It’s a time to catch up with each other, relax, and make those family traditions that will last for the rest of our lives and will hopefully be passed down to the next generation. While many people in America do still do this, more and more families eat separately as our hectic lives get in the way of good family time. Eating together has some great benefits for the family unit as it promotes togetherness, dissipates family tension, gives the family better nutrition, and has been proven to help children do better at school! Here are some great family traditions from around the world that will hopefully get you wanting to eat together again.
Food is a big part of French culture both in and outside of the home. Artisan farmer’s markets are much stronger in France than most other European countries due to the tradition of eating regionally and the strong bonds with the land. But, at dinner time the French love to get together and have big, long meals that often include cheese and wine late into the night. 80% of French households regularly eat together, which is much more than here in the USA, and the tradition looks set to last well into the future!
Shabbat, or Sabbath, lasts from sundown on Friday until the following Saturday evening, and it’s a time when families get together and break bread with a candlelit dinner. The Shabbat is taken very seriously, with most households observing a no cell phone or computer rule, meaning time can be solely spent together as a family.
In Russia, it’s a strict custom to wait for everyone to arrive home before dinner is served, which can mean it’s served at around 8 or 9 pm. The family always eats together, and it’s often the only time of the day where the whole family will sit together, meaning it’s an important bonding and information sharing space.
Italians are renowned for their love of long, late meals with everyone in the family. In this way, eating traditions in Italy are treated more like a philosophy than a simple social event, with three or even four generations sometimes gracing the same table. Italians often eat late because it’s a time when the day begins to cool, meaning that meals can easily slip into the early hours of the morning. On top of this, multiple courses are often served.
Around the world, the tradition of eating together as a family is still going strong, and it seems that here in the USA we can learn a thing or two! Studies show that families who eat together are often considered more functional, with lower divorce rates and with children doing better in school. If you can’t remember the last time you sat down as a whole family and broke bread, chatting into the late hours of the evening, maybe it’s time you started planning a family meal for one or two nights a week. Take it as an opportunity to put your electronic devices aside and rekindle those family bonds!