Monday 19 October 2015


FECS' Family Traditions

I wrote a post on the ideas for cozy family traditions, and why they are important. Below is a list of family traditions that we have selected and adapted for our family. Some have been a part of our family for some time, some we hope to implement. Those highlighted in red are things which we have not tried yet, or would like to do so more frequently. It also shows me where we need to improve - mainly in the volunteering section... there is still a lot of room for growth for our family.

A. Meal Time

1. Say Grace Before Each Meal

We say grace and give thanks before each meal. We are not perfect, and sometimes we do forget, especially when we are really hungry.

One way to teach your children to be thankful is to ask them to think of all the steps that were put into bring the food to his plate and thank all the people who make it possible - the farmer, the picker, the truck-driver, the person who unloaded it, the person who stocked it on the shelf, the person who checked it out at the supermarket, mom and dad for cooking it.

2. One-Minute Speech

Have a "one-minute speech" during dinner. Give a family member a topic - anything from honesty to the funniest thing that happened that day - and the person speaks for one minute on it.

3. Thanksgiving

During dinner time, encourage each family member to share one thing they are grateful for that day. If your children have nothing to share, don't feel discouraged. Encourage them to share one thing they are especially looking forward to instead. Slowly, they will open up.

4. Affirmation

During dinner time, encourage each family member to share one thing he/she caught another family member doing something good.

5. Marble Jar

Whenever anyone catches another family member doing something good, he gets to put a marble into the jar on behalf of the person. When the jar is full, we discuss what fun thing we could do to reward ourselves at dinner time. See this post for more information:

6. A Mommy's & Daddy's Family Tradition Day

What do I mean by Mommy's & Daddy's Family Tradition Day? This means once a year, replicate the dinner that your mum used to prepare during your childhood or your hubby's mum used to make for his childhood. The above is a typical 3-course dinner my mum used to prepare for us freshly daily for us. You can read more here:

B. Cooking

1. Bake Together

Once a month, bake together. Here are our easy, tasty and healthy favorites:

1. Banana buns
2. Apple biscuits
3. Apple chips
4. Banana chips
5. Homemade muesli

You can find more recipes here:

2. Chinese Dumpling Day

Once a quarter, make Chinese dumplings together with your family. If you are a Chinese, it would be a very cozy way to inculcate heritage education to your children. Here are some pictures from our dumpling day:

If you wish to try this, here is the recipe for Chinese dumplings:

3. Steamboat

This has been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. Every Chinese New Year’s Eve, we have steamboat (hot pot) at home with my parents. It’s a very fond memory for me and a great way to spend the evening with family as we usher in the new year.

4. Fondue

Once a year, during winter, we will have cheese fondue together.

5. Sushi Night

Once a year, make sushi together. 

6. Singaporean Chinese Popiah Night

Once a year, make and eat Singaporean Popiah together with your family, where each will wrap his own popiah. You can make the ingredients beforehand during the day for your family or your family can also make it a family day preparing the ingredients together. It will be a memorable way to share your heritage with your children if you are a Singaporean, and of course, I am one :-)

If you wish to try this, here is the recipe for Singaporean Chinese Popiah:

C. Sunday Fun Time

1. Weekly Family Fun Night (WFFN)

Once a week, have fun together doing fun stuff, and if not, just laugh and relax together. For us, it is on a Sunday. WFFN is important because it provides a way to show unconditional love and acceptance for children, thereby building self-esteem of children based on Existence. It doesn't have to be expensive. It should ideally not be used as withdrawal of privileges during discipline of children. You can read more here:

2. Regular Tea Time

Once a month, have tea time with your children. That is something we can learn from the Brits - a relaxed tea time tradition :-). Start this when your child is young. It may actually help you bond to your child when he/she is a teenager. Here are some posts I have done with our family's tea time.

3. Quarterly Breakfast

Once a quarter, eat a big breakfast together. Wake up very early together in the morning. Go to the bakery to buy fresh bread. Make your own croissants, pancakes, fresh fruit juice, fruit yogurt served with homemade museli together. Or you can also have your special breakfast outside. When I was a child growing up in Singapore, something special would be the Big Breakfast at McDonalds.

Here are some pictures from our family:

Here is a recipe from our family:

4. Martha the C

Once a month on a weekend, dad can don a special apron and cook for the family. Give a nickname to dad e.g. Martha the Cook :-) (Note: Dad doesn't have to be a good cook. Even if the cooking goes terribly wrong, Dad can always fall back on a contingency plan of a take-away food, it will still be worth the effort and the memories that this family tradition sets.

5. Water-gun

Let your hair down. Once a year during summer, play water-gun together or go to a water park together. Your kids will love you for being a kid with them, and allowing them to get wet and all messy.

6. Edible Play Dough

Have the children make edible play dough together. You can get the recipe here:

7. Movie Day

Once a quarter, drag your comforters and some snack, sit back, relax and watch a movie together :-) 
Or watch an inspiring TED videos together. Here are some inspiring videos for our family (sorry, some are in mandarin):

8. Board Game Night

Have a monthly board game, playing UNO cards, jigsaw puzzle or Lego night, rotating among them each week. Turn off the TV, the iPod and the iPhone! Here are some pictures from my family:

Here is a list of recommended board games:

9. Have a Clear Your Calendar Day

"Sometimes it is okay if the only thing you did today was breathe." - Anonymous 

Every half-year, have a Clear Your Calendar Day, where you have nothing planned on that day, but simply spending the day with your children and spouse, doing whatever it is that they like to do.

10. J-Dose

Sniff and hug each other. We call it the J dose. I will tell J, "Mommy needs J dose now." Then I will sniff him and make nose kiss :-)

D. Bed Time

1. Bedtime Story

Although one can read to one's children anytime of the day, there is something special about snuggling up in bed and reading a book just before lights off. It provides a very cosy time of bonding with your child in a magical way. And children whose parents read to them tend to do better in school, be more competent in reading and have a larger vocabularies.

2. Super Family Sleep-In

Once a month, drag all your mattresses downstairs and sleep in the living room floor altogether with your children. (There's no good reason why as we all have our beds other than it's great fun.) Switch off the lights and light candles (you can use the fake candles for safety). The candle lights somehow helps to create a cozy conducive environment for family-togetherness. You can spend the evening talking about old family memories, or future aspirations.

3. Cozy Closet Night

Once every quarter, sleep in the walk-in wardrobe as a family. Chit chat, play cards and tell stories. Someone else has the same idea too.

Here is a post on our Cozy Closet Night:

4. Sleep in Kitchen

Once a year, drag your comforters and sleep in the kitchen. The children will find it thrilling and will remember for the rest of the lives.

Here is a post on our sleeping in the kitchen:

E. Housework

1. Practical Life Day 

Once every two weeks, put on your work clothes, roll up your sleeves and give one area of the home to give it a good scrub. This will teach your children the essential life skills and at the same time bring home the value that we belong to the family and we all help and work as a team to maintain the cleanliness of the home.

F. Exercise

1. Cycling

Go cycling with your family. Explore the forest and take a rest under a tree or watch sunrise together.

You may ask, "Where do we find the time?" One family does it at 6am in the morning. What an early time of the day, but that is a sure way to make memories. There is something special about doing things together either very late at night or very early in the morning. Don't our most memorable memories are those late night talks together while camping?

2. After Dinner Walks

Go for regular walks together. When I was a child, my grandparents will always go for a walk together after dinner. When I went to their place, they would take me along, and I always looked forward to it. We would walk up the hill and the park just behind the home. It was very simple, but very cozy and a very memorable experience. And talk comes naturally during walks. Take walks with your family, it can do wonders by walking the problems away and strengthen your family. It will be good for the heart and the soul. Now that we have our own family, we like to take a walk in the forest in our locality.

3. Walkathon/Marathon

Once a year, join a walkathon or marathon as a family. You get to exercise and have fun at the same time. You are also inculcating good exercise habits into your family tradition. I remembered my mum was very sporty, and was active in marathon. I remembered seeing her getting a trophy for it. You can also walk for charity and doing charity as a family together while walking or running.

4. Tennis

Find a family sport and exercise together as part of your family tradition. For us, it is tennis, but it can be any sports that your family enjoy.

5. Swimming

Swim 24 laps, thereafter sit by the pool, watch the sky talk about our lives, sharing a drink. We tend to only do this, when we are in Singapore.

G. Nature

1. Go for walk in Forest

2. Build a Cozy Hut

When going for a walk in the forest, once in a while, slow down, enjoy the moment and build a cozy hut for your children. It will create a lot of fun and bonding. This is something I need to learn - to slow down and enjoy the moment. It does not come naturally for me.

3. Horse-Riding

4. Explore a New National Park or Nature Playground

Here is a listing of all playgrounds in Denmark:

H. Chinese Traditions

1. Full Moon Gazing or Celebrate Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

Once a year during Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival or once a month during full moon which occurs roughly every 29 days, go for a walk and watch the moon. Light a lantern and walk with the children. You can sing a song as you walk with the lantern. Children will find it fascinating and unforgettable.

Here are some pictures from our family:

2. Calligraphy on Chinese New Year

Draw 福 (fu) on red paper and golden paint hang them upside-down around the house.

3. Chinese Angbaos

When I was young, my mum would hide an angbao under my pillow, on Chinese New Year's Eve when we slept, and we could open it on the first day of Chinese New Year the next morning when we woke up :-) Here are some pictures of opening angbaos from our family:

4. Spring Cleaning

Once a year, do spring cleaning of the home together as a family. Let the children put on swim suits and slide on the wet floor while you are mopping the floor. I got this idea here. For Chinese, it is a tradition to do spring cleaning once a year, and I remember growing up, watching and helping my mum with spring cleaning to usher in the Chinese New Year.

You can read more here:

I. Easter

1. Sleep in a Cave

To commemorate Christ death and resurrection during Good Friday and Easter, make a cave with sheets and chairs, etc. and sleep in the "cave," representing Jesus' tomb. Read a story of Easter in your cave in torch light or candlelight.

J. Spring

1. Planting

Once a year, mark the coming of spring by planting herbs, sunflowers, carrots, etc. See the growth of the plants together with your kids. Here are some pictures from our family:

2. Visit a Farm

Once a year, mark the arrival of spring by going to the farm and see the dancing cows being let out to the fresh air and smell of spring. Visit a different farm each year, and it will also introduce your children to nature and farming.

K. Summer

1. Summer BBQ

Kick off the summer with a BBQ. It doesn't have to be elaborate work. You can keep it simple with just sausages, sweet potatoes and corn cobs. We love to include salmons in our BBQ.

Some pictures here:

2. Sleep in Tent

After kicking off summer with a BBQ, sleep overnight in a tent in the garden or the balcony and tell a story under the stars. If you don’t have a balcony, nobody says that you can’t put up a tent in the living room and sleep in it. Doing something different than sleeping on the bed brings excitement, even if it is in the living room. During at times like that, you will see your children open up and share deeply as a family. For families without a garden or a large balcony, find a favourite campsite.

Here is a post on our camp:

3. Campfire

Once every summer, go to the beach. In the evening, light the fire, eat chocolate and tell stories in the darkness.

4. Snobrød (Danish Bonfire Twistbread)

Once every summer, go to the beach or the countryside, build a campfire at sun-set and make snobrød (Danish twist bread on a long wooden stick) with the family. If you live in the city, you can use a one-time BBQ grill to make snobrød. Here are some pictures from our family:

5. Camping

Teach your child the joy of setting up a home in the woods, having coffee and fried eggs in the morning, and poking the fire with a stick well into the night. Here is the link to one of the campsites in Denmark:

6. Canoeing

Once every summer, go canoeing together in a Danish canoe that comes with a cover. Watch the sunset, light the lamp in the canoe, have hot chocolate, sing and share.

7. Watch Sunrise

Once a quarter, wake up very early and go for morning jog together and then watch the sun rise together and jog back home for a breakfast or café for breakfast.

8. Watch Sunset

Watch sun set together. There is something about watching sunset that helps us appreciate the passing of time and gain more appreciation of one another. Here are some pictures from our family:

9. Share an Ice-Cream

While you watch the sunset, we share a big ice-cream together.

10. Summer Picnic

Every summer, prepare a basket and checked blanket and have a picnic. If it's raining, have a picnic at home on a blanket.

11. Strawberries Picking

Once a year, mark the harvest season by going strawberries picking or apple picking. The excitement of eating your own strawberries that you pluck will be unforgettable for your kids.

Jordbærcentret Vejborggaard
Roskildevej 203
Freerslev 3330 Gørløse
Tlf. 4827 8635
Tlf. 2097 8635 

The farm is open daily from 10 am to 7 pm for strawberry-picking.

L. Autumn

1. Apple Picking

2. Chestnut-Picking

3. Carve Jack-O-Lantern

Buy a pumpkin and carve a smiling face with Daddy. Then read the The Parable of the Pumpkin Patch, which tells of how God is like the farmer, and we are like the pumpkins, chosen by Him, our cores are made clean by Him and given His light. May this halloween filled your lives with the light of God's love. You can see more pictures here:

M. Winter

1. Make a Snowman

Once a year, build a snowman together with your children, and take a photo for memory. You can see more pics and our post here:

2. Sledging

Once a year, go sledging together. It is one of the most effective way to create laughter, great fun and memories... at least for our family. Then have a cozy soaking of feet in basin of hot water while holding a cup of hot chocolate with the hands. You can see more pictures here:

3. Ice-Skating

Mark the arrival of winter by going ice-skating as a family or skiing. Have hot chocolate under cozy candle-lights thereafter.

N. Christmas Traditions

1. Weekly Family Meeting Night (WFMN)

Each Christmas, give up your beds and sleep on the floor together to remember what they have endured, as Mary, Joseph and Jesus did that first Christmas. Read a story on the birth of Jesus as you hit the "hay" :-) Some pictures here:

You can see more of our Christmas traditions here:

O. Family Time

1. Weekly Family Meeting Night (WFMN)

Once a week, have a family meeting to review and sync calendar, resolve conflicting schedules, plan meals for the week, discuss transportation needs, maintain communication, teach values, etc. You can read more here:

2. Family Devotion Time

Once a week, worship God, pray and read the Bible together as a family. This is something I aspire for my family, but we have not achieved it yet.

3. Sing Together

Once a week, sing together as a family. Sing a song or nursery rhyme during Bedtime and do that from your child is an infant. Many values and Bible verses are best remembered through songs.

4. Pray Together

Don’t leave home without giving each other a hug and saying a little prayer. It has been our tradition for the past 8 years that every morning before stepping out of the main door, we will give each other a hug and say a little prayer for each other. It makes me feel very loved when we parted each morning each on our way to work. Years from now, the main door will bring back lots of sweet memories...

If you don't know what to pray, this book "The Power of a Praying Parent" by Stormie Omartian is very useful:

You can read more here:

5. Browse Photo Album

Once a year, browse through old photo albums together. It will bring back a lot of good old memories and create conversation topics and help bond the family. See our post here:

6. "What We Learned This Week" Journal

Encourage reflection and learning in your children by being a family that learns together. Buy a nice, leather-bound journal. At the end of each week, each family member can write about something they have learned during the week. If you have young children, you can write down their words for them. It can be as simple as, "This week, I learned that the earth goes around the sun." Idea adapted from here.

7. Monthly Goal Chest

Encourage your children to set goal and monitor their own goal and incorporate this life long habit into your family culture by having the tradition of having each family member write their goal they want to achieve for that month and place it in a small wooden chest (or a paper box or a glass jar). When the month comes to an end, take out the pieces of paper and review the goals to see how everyone has progressed. It can be as simple as, "I want to learn how to use the chopsticks." or "I want to learn how to tie the shoelaces." or "I want to master the piece Itsy Bitsy Spider on the piano." Then write down new goals for the next month and repeat.

8. Family Trophy

Buy a real trophy and give it to the family member who had been closest to the family mission statement that week or month.

9. Burning Regrets

I got this idea from here. Once a year, come together as a family and encourage each family member to write down and share one of their regrets for the past year. Then hug each other, forgive where needed, encourage where needed, support where needed. Then throw the pieces of paper into the fireplace to symbolize a fresh start. For me, for example, I want to be more patient with my loved ones. I want to treat each family member kindly.

10. Journal for Your Child

Keep a journal for each your children. You can do so by blogging. It would be great to watch your child read it, or when your child reads it with you.

11. Family Crest or Stamp

Design a family crest together. Think of a motto to build into the crest. I got this idea from my Significant Other's family. It will foster a sense of belonging and identity, and help your children to be proud of their family. Use the stamp when you are signing off post cards, when you are sending a card to someone as a family. You can see our family's crest here:

12. Family Cheers

Have a Battle Cry that is unique yours and identifies you from other family. For example, ours is to put our hands together and say, "Hip hip hooray! ______!" Here is another one which I got this idea from.

Our long version is as follows which I got inspired during my NPCC school days:

Who are we are who are we,
We are we are we are we,
Who are we,
We are we,
We are ___

We are ___
We are the ___
Hip hip hooray! ___

You can read more here:

13. Family Secret Code

I got this idea here. Squeeze each other's hands three times to signal the words "I love you." In the book The Book of New Family Traditions, "On the day of the daughter's wedding, the father squeezed her hand three times as he walked her down the aisle. Only she knew that this was happening, a tiny personal ritual lodged invisibly within one of the grandest and most public, and she says it was one of the most moving moments of her life."

14. Create a Family Brand Name

We call our family "The Family FECS". You can sign off greeting cards using your family brand name. This helps to create a strong family identity and culture.

15. Record & Read the Family's Biography

If your family has family biography, you can read the family's biography together during Weekly Family Meeting (WFM). Through this tradition, it will strengthen your family's culture. You will be able to teach and share with your children his heritage, teach him respect for elders, inspire him to look up to the wise people, teach him about family values and about life.

If your family does not have a family biography, you can start interviewing the older members and writing the stories down. You can read more here:

16. Family Retreat

Once a year perhaps at new year's eve, get out of the routine, check into a hotel and have your family retreat. You can also have your family retreat in a cruise. Reflect over the year past, review the family mission statement and plan the week. Then watch the sunset or sunrise together.

. Take a Course Together

Once a year, take a course together as a family. You develop as a family. We intend to take up tennis (

Here are pictures of our sushi courses:

P. Volunteer

1. Volunteer

I got this idea from "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families" book. This is a great and fun way to create a culture of service in your family. You could also designate one day a month, where your family serve at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter, or visit a old folk home, etc.

Here is an activity centre for senior people where you can volunteer:

Volunteering opportunities in Denmark for families and kids at risk:

Here is a volunteer job site for Denmark:

You can read more here:

2. Give Up a Meal

 During the week before Christmas, give up a meal and pray during that time for the poor, hungry and spiritually lost in the world.

3. Project Phantom Family

Christmas is as much able giving as about receiving presents. Our children today are so fortunate to receive so many presents during Christmas. Teach the meaning of Christmas by giving and serving. Rent the video "Magnificent Obsession" and discuss the movie. Make a special treat or a hamper filled with food and goodies. Place a note to your neighbour and tell them the things they did which you are grateful for. Or you can make a hamper containing food, bread, canned food, household items, etc. along with a note to a welfare home, children's home or old folk's home. End the note with, "Love, from the Phantom Family" or "The Phantom Family strikes again!" Ring the door bell and run like wildfire. The thrill of being anonymous, plot, drama and mystery will make a great adventure. It will also teach your children the principle of anonymous service and integrating it into your family life.

4. Serve in Soup Kitchen

5. Mission Trip

Once a year, go on a mission trip as a family. Serve the less fortunate. Go and visit prison.

Q. Vacation

1. Vacation

Once a year, go on a vacation somewhere together. It doesn't have to be an expensive vacation. It can be a cruise. It can even simply being tourists in your own city. We like to take the Copenhagen canal cruise from Nyhavn once a year. You can read here for more information:

2. Car Vacation

3. Listen to Audio CD During Car Rides

Have audio books and songs ready in the car. Put it on each time you are driving the kids to a sports game or a lesson or running errands and make it part of your weekly routine. When they are older, they can listen to audio books such as "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens" or audio sermons.

4. Caravan

Once a year, rent a caravan and drive to somewhere together. Cook, eat and sleep in the caravan. Even if daddy does not feel confident to drive a caravan, just drive a symbolic distance and park it stationary in a campsite in substitute of a tent :-)

5. Go on a Cruise

Once a year, take a cruise together and tell stories together in a cabin.

6. Train Vacation

7. Rent a Hotel Room

I got this idea from here According to this blog, "Staying at a hotel provides a different experience. Rent a room on New Year's eve, bring board games and snacks. Let the kids swim. Have a family slumber party to ring in the new year."

R. School

1. First Day of School Photo

One the first day of school, take a picture of your children in front of the house or door-step. Years down the road, it will give you and your children many nostalgic memory. You will enjoy seeing the growth of your child from the pictures.

2. First Day of School Note

To calm your child down on the first day of school, make it a family tradition to leave a note of encouragement either in their lunchbox, or on sms. It will bring a smile on their face when they return to the classroom.

3. Parent/Teacher Conference Note

I got this idea here. When you go to the Parent/Teacher meeting, leave a note on your child's desk telling him how neat his desk was, how nice his artwork on the wall was, and one nice thing that the teacher had said about him. Your child will look forward to finding the note.

4. Little Surprise Note

Leave a word in your children's school lunch boxes. You can simply say, "I love you. Have a good day." You can write some inspiring quotes. If you are a Christian, you can write a Bible verse to encourage your child. Here are some pictures of our little love notes in J's lunchboxes:

5. College Acceptance Celebration

I got this idea here. Celebrate and make memories by buying everyone in the family a T-shirt with the school logo and take a picture together.

S. Date

1. Date One-on-One (DOO)

Once a month, it is important to spend time with your spouse without children around.

Once a month, it is important to spend time one-on-one with each child, where the agenda is set by the child and he or she picks whatever he or she wants to do. This means one parent and one child. As soon as a third person is introduced, the dynamic changes. The basic relationship building block is one-on-one.

T. Singapore

1. Go Fishing in a Tongkang

Once a year, hire a fishing boat and go fishing for a day. Growing up in Singapore, my grandfather owned a tongkang (Chinese junk boat) , and he would take us for a ride in his tongkang. It was not so much the fishing than the carefreeness and joy of being together. We would sit right in front of the tongkang, enjoying the sea breeze and each other's company.

When in Singapore, you can hire fishing boats from here:

2. National Day

Once a year, stand and sing the National Anthem and recite the National Pledge during National Day, when we wake up in the morning. Here are some posts:

Here is a family picture of our SG50 National Day:

U. Singapore

1. Sick Day Family Tradition

This is our Sick Day Family Tradition - cold towel on the forehead passed down from my side of the family to bring down the temperature and give relief; and the honey pill passed down from Mr. FECS' side of the family (Mr. FECS will mix Panadol pounded into powder with honey, that he learned from his dad).

You can read more here:

Additional Information:

I am inspired by these two books and I found many insights about how to manage my family, which I would like to share. You can also find these books from Amazon.

This book is simple and easy to read. It is thin and can be finished in a short time. I finished reading it in 2 evenings:

This book is on the other hand a little harder to read, but is jam-packed with very structured and well illustrated principles, which challenges one to a reach a higher goal in one's family:

References and other ideas:

- The Sixty Minute Family by Rob Parsons

- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey




- “Treasuring God in our Traditions” by Noel Piper





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