Every Community Needs Traditions; Here’s How To Make A Successful Tradition

Do you know what’s odder than a boat carrying a giant herring? 

When that boat with the giant herring is carried through the streets of a town; it’s called the “Herring March” of Spakenburg in the Netherlands. The herring is a symbol of the town’s fishing heritage, and the parade is a celebration of community spirit, creativity, and humor.

Or, have you heard that in the English city of Brighton, they have a “Burning of the Clocks” festival? This tradition involves a parade of handmade lanterns and paper clocks through the streets, culminating in a bonfire on the beach. The festival celebrates the winter solstice and encourages participants to reflect on the passing of time and the turning of the seasons.

Or, lastly, Did you know that the Warlpiri people in Australia have a tradition called the  “Kangaroo Dance?” This tradition involves dancers wearing kangaroo skins and mimicking the movements of kangaroos, creating a mesmerizing and powerful display of dance, music, and storytelling. The tradition celebrates the long-standing relationship between the Warlpiri people and the large population of kangaroos unique to the area.

These traditions are just three examples of the many unique and inspiring traditions that exist worldwide. Creating a new tradition within your community can be a powerful way to foster a sense of belonging, celebrate shared values, and create a legacy that will endure for generations. 

In Dance Floor Theory, we say traditions are the social habit of engagement. People seem to participate in much higher numbers when an activity is labeled a tradition, no matter how ridiculous they think the tradition is.

But how do you go about setting up a tradition? What are the key elements that make a tradition successful?

Here are Four Critical Elements Needed to Create a Successful Tradition:

Meaningful Purpose:

Every successful tradition has a clear and meaningful purpose that resonates with the community’s values and goals. Whether it’s celebrating an important event, preserving cultural heritage, or promoting a particular value or message, a tradition’s purpose should be something everyone in the community can relate to and feel passionate about. 

The “Herring March” of Spakenburg celebrates the town’s fishing heritage and promotes community spirit and creativity. The “Kangaroo Dance” of the Warlpiri people celebrates their connection to the land and their cultural heritage.

Active Participation: 

A successful tradition depends on the level of participation and engagement from the community members. Therefore, a new tradition should be designed to encourage active involvement of everyone, regardless of age, gender, or background.

The “Herring March” of Spakenburg involves the participation of local fishermen, boat builders, and artists, creating a sense of shared ownership and pride in the tradition. The “Burning of the Clocks” festival in Brighton involves the participation of community members in creating handmade lanterns and paper clocks, as well as in the parade itself. The “Kangaroo Dance” of the Warlpiri people involves the participation of dancers, musicians, and storytellers, creating a sense of shared ownership and pride in the tradition.


A successful tradition should be flexible enough to adapt and evolve as the community changes. A new tradition should be open to modifications and adjustments that better suit the community’s needs and preferences. This could involve seeking feedback from the community and incorporating their ideas and suggestions. 

Both the “Herring March” of Spakenburg and The “Burning of the Clocks” festival in Brighton have incorporated new ideas and themes, such as sustainability and community service, into the parade. 


Consistency is vital to building a tradition that lasts. A new tradition should be planned and executed consistently, with a clear schedule and set of rules that everyone understands and follows. This consistency helps to build a sense of anticipation and expectation within the community and helps to create a shared experience that everyone can look forward to.

All three festivals mentioned in this article have happened every year since they were created. The Burning of the Clocks festival in Brighton started in 1993. The “Herring March” of Spakenburg in the Netherlands began in 1946. The “Kangaroo Dance” of the Warlpiri people is a traditional dance performed by the Warlpiri people for thousands of years. It has been passed down through generations as part of their cultural heritage.

Setting up a new tradition within your community can be a powerful way to create a shared sense of purpose, belonging, and identity. By following the four key elements of a successful tradition – meaningful purpose, active participation, flexibility, and consistency – you can create a tradition that reflects your community’s values, celebrates its heritage, and brings people together in a spirit of creativity and fun.

So, why not take the first step today? Gather your community members, brainstorm ideas, and start planning your unique tradition. Who knows – it may just become the next “Kangaroo Dance” or “Herring March” that people will discuss for years to come!

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