Traditions – 4.7.23

Dear College of Science Faculty and Staff, The word ‘tradition’ comes from Latin - trans ‘across’ + dare ‘give’. The embracing definition of tradition is something like ‘the handing down or continuation of activities in a community’. Any community can become more solid through developing traditions, and a sense of belonging can be strengthened by being part of traditions. There are family traditions that can change as children grow up and start their own homes. And traditions which flow from habits, like whether you park on the same floor of Columbus Garage every morning. All can be comforting and provide a solid framework on which you can lean. In this important season of Ramadan, Easter and Passover there are myriad interesting traditions. Many involve wonderful and significant foods. Passover is the tradition I know best this time of year, that involves some unique foods. The dish called haroset represents the mortar that enslaved Israelites in Egypt used for building. Haroset often includes finely chopped nuts and apples, but the rest is open for play. My mom made hers with walnuts, raisins, apples and wine but it was a little bitter and watery, so I evolved a version with pecans, dates, raisins, apples and honey which is totally delicious and has become a new family tradition.   Traditions tend to have a positive sense, but there can be negative connotations, where brutal practices continue for generations in the name of tradition. As Associate Dean Randall Hughes points out, ’tradition’ can be used to justify dominant views and to reinforce power differentials. We have an evolving set of comfortable and fun traditions in the College of Science that help strengthen our Community. Community Meetings, Staff Coffees, Department Socials, this Weekly, and various department or unit meetings and events, all contribute. The Dean’s Office has a new tradition of providing snacks to any passing student or other COS member. Good traditions don’t need to be bulky and stolid, they can be light and easy, all that is needed is that they repeat reliably, so Community members can count on them and feel part. In this holy season, for members of our COS Community observing Easter, I wish you a blessed and peaceful Easter; for those celebrating Passover, Chag Sameach; and continuing wishes for Ramandan Kareem.