Traditions – They Are a Part of Us

in General News, RT&J

By Robin Beltramini, Iota (U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee

Traditions are everywhere. Our heritage provides them—Irish traditions are different from German ones. Chinese traditions are different from those in Brazil. Our families provide them—Thanksgiving is always at “Grandma’s,” your brother’s middle name may be the same as your father’s, the handkerchief I carried for my wedding was carried by my mother and my daughters. Religions provide them—gelt and dreidels during Hanukkah, manger dioramas during Christmas, diya lamps during Dawali. We also get traditions from our friends, including our fraternity.

Alpha Omicron Pi has many traditions—both fun and serious. Our Book of Rituals Instructions speaks of an essential tradition that, ultimately, leads to working for the understanding and acceptance of diversity in personalities and backgrounds. This is our beginning tradition. From its founding, AOII has strengthened us through monthly formal rituals and varied sisterhood activities. We have uproarious fun or simply share experiences, thoughts, and even strong opinions. We celebrate our founding with multi-generational Founders’ Day gatherings. Some chapters or geographic areas have lost this tradition, even though it is an opportunity to not only celebrate with older and younger sisters but to network or find mentors for our careers. We have a hand sign to flash to each other in public and exchange the grip to recognize sisters more discreetly. 

Philanthropic giving to the community and the AOII Foundation is a central activity. We raise money for myriad necessities to battle arthritis or to help our sisters. In earlier years, chapters would collect members’ loose change and send that amount to the Ruby Fund. Since very few of us carry much cash or change these days, that tradition is gone. Some chapters have replaced it with a Founders’ Day Ruby Fund collection, and others depend on fundraising events, or left out some of our Foundation’s funds entirely.   

We have songs we sing during recruitment and casual events. There is a longstanding tradition of singing the Epsilon Chapter Song, focused on sisterhood and loyalty. AOII traditions and teachings simply make us better rounded citizens.  

Why ponder this? Who we choose for friends and the groups to which we belong change us in ways our family never could. Friends, as well as those formal connections of heritage, family and organized groups influence our personal growth. Humans are a bit like sponges. We absorb from our friends—habits, knowledge, even traditions.

We find our life lessons and traditions in various and unexpected places. It makes each of us unique. That Essential Tradition of AOII can make our Rituals and promises working principles for life, without fighting with heritage or religion. A well-rounded tradition, to be sure!

Traditions, large and small, set each of us apart and echo the character lessons by which we live. What are the traditions that have influenced your life and the life of your chapter?

You may contact the Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee (RT&J) about anything Ritual-related at RT&

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