Family rituals improve the holidays

Ovul Sezer, Michael I. Norton, Francesca Gino, Kathleen D. Vohs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Rituals are central to family life. Three studies (N = 1,098) tested the relationship between family rituals and holiday enjoyment and demonstrated that family rituals improve the holidays because they amplify family closeness and involvement in the experience. In study 1, participants who reported having family rituals on Christmas were more likely to spend the holiday with family and to enjoy the holiday more. Moreover, while simply spending the holiday with family was associated with greater enjoyment, enacting a ritual while with family added significantly to that enjoyment. Study 2 replicated these findings for family rituals pertaining to a secular holiday, New Year’s Eve. Study 3 used an experimental design and had participants either describe their rituals and then report their holiday enjoyment (as in studies 1 and 2) or report their holiday enjoyment and then describe their rituals; in both conditions, being with family and enacting a ritual was associated with the greatest enjoyment, suggesting that it is having enacted rituals—and not merely reflecting on them—that enhances enjoyment. Participants were unlikely to engage in individual rituals (i.e., on their own without family involvement), and when they did, individual rituals were not associated with holiday enjoyment. In sum, three studies consistently demonstrate that family rituals on holidays are associated with feelings of closeness and greater intrinsic interest, leading to holiday enjoyment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-526
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Association for Consumer Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

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