19 Historic American Traditions Challenged by Modern Society

The values and perspectives of traditions in America’s modern society are being reassessed and challenged. We examine 19 traditions and how they’re being questioned, looking into the different values and perspectives associated with them.

Thanksgiving festivities

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Thanksgiving has always been one of the more popular national holidays that has been celebrated by Americans for decades. It’s an event that has its roots in both cultural and religious traditions and is a day of giving thanks for the blessings of the harvest of the preceding year. It is undergoing scrutiny for its simplistic portrayal and inaccuracies regarding relations between the Pilgrims and Native Americans.

The recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools

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Concerns regarding the freedom of expression and the ideals behind nationalism have questioned the significance of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools in modern society. This has been a topic under debate, as some contend it’s seen as compelled speech, while others see it as a tradition.

Columbus Day

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Americans once celebrated Columbus Day more frequently; however, over the past few years, it has slowly been replaced by Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It still holds meaning, albeit now recognizing the impact that Christopher Columbus’s arrival had on the American people.

Aspirations of owning a home

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The reality of the current economic fluctuations that Americans are facing has forced them to rethink their traditional beliefs about owning their own homes. There are many challenges that citizens and the country itself are facing. Aspects such as inflation rates, a budget deficit, affordability of healthcare, and crime have also affected housing prices and lifestyle preferences, and many are questioning whether they want the ‘American Dream’ or not.

Challenging gender-based clothing norms

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Another American tradition that’s being challenged by modern society is that of gender-based clothing. The expectations that societies have had over decades for clothing are being increasingly questioned as the advent of non-binary identities and gender fluidity emerges with new generations. The result? Choices in fashion that are suitable for a diverse expression of identities.

Rethinking college as an aspiration

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What was once seen as an essential requirement in life for the success of many is now being reassessed. The beliefs that people had years ago about attaining a college degree are slowly fading out for several reasons. Alternatives such as vocational studying, the rising costs of tuition fees, and recognizing that one may want a different career path have all contributed to this shift.

Monolingualism

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There are a variety of reasons why people should learn a second language. Besides the fact that it can advance your career prospects, it is also great for working or living abroad. In a globalized world, being multilingual has become a common preference. Those within organizations, such as schools and colleges, have begun to recognize this and are adding language diversity to their curricula.

Changing perspectives on Black Friday shopping

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E-commerce concerns have changed the way people view and target Black Friday shopping sprees. These concerns have impacted consumerism, and many shoppers are choosing alternative shopping practices. Not as many people are taking advantage of these sales, and shopkeepers are facing significant challenges in getting people to shop at their stores.

Evolving ideals of the family structure

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Modern society has changed many attitudes among the American people. One of these is the traditional concept of the family. Nowadays, concepts such as single families or same-sex parents are more commonly accepted than the stereotypical family with a husband and wife with 2.4 children. This may have been the mentality of the 1990s, but not anymore.

Meat-focused diets

Food vegan eating woman RossHelen
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Concerns about the environment, health, and personal beliefs have overtaken traditional meat diets, and alternative options such as plant-based diets are taking over more so now than ever before. People no longer believe in consuming only meat products, and many new brands of vegetarian and plant-based products are hitting the markets like a storm.

The traditional 9-to-5 workday

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After COVID-19, there was a change in the typical 9-to-5 workday. For many who would have to travel for hours every day to their offices, this was a huge relief. Now, there are more flexible jobs and remote working options for the working class. This has been gaining popularity since the pandemic.

Reevaluating tipping customs

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Studies show that 60% of Americans are tipping more nowadays than they used to before. As great as this sounds, this customary practice is being questioned by many. It’s seen as contributing to wage disparities, and discussions around wages within the service industry include either re-evaluating tipping practices or eliminating them altogether.

Retirement at 65

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As people have started to realize the importance of living a healthy life as they get older, the concept of retiring at 65 is evolving, and many individuals are choosing to work far beyond their retirement age by finding alternative things to do rather than sitting at home or joining a retirement home. For many, it avoids boredom and keeps them active, and for others, it’s to continue to earn a wage of any kind.

Standardized testing in education

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In America, there have been ongoing disputes regarding the fairness and efficiency of relying on standardized testing in education. As a result, various assessment methods are being reevaluated to ensure a fair and just evaluation practice.

Single-use plastics

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Many news articles and documentaries that highlight the effects plastic has on our environment have become more apparent over the years. According to the United Nations Environmental Programme, the equivalent of 2000 garbage trucks full of plastic are dumped into the oceans, lakes, and rivers every day. These concerns have caused a pushback against single-use plastics in many establishments.

A shift toward eco-friendly gardening

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Fertilizers and lawn cultures that once had disinfectants, insecticides, antimicrobial substances, and antibiotics are now being eradicated as we are moving toward eco-friendly products. Traditionally, American lawns were dressed using these harmful cultures, but now, in the modern world, they are seen as harmful and unwanted.

The challenges of urban planning

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Back in the day, cars were the most popular source of transportation on American roads; however, this has changed. With the increase in public transportation options for its citizens, American urban planning concepts have dramatically changed. To create more sustainability, walkability, and infrastructure for cyclists, the government is looking for alternative ways to take cars off the roads.

The commercialization of Christmas

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Christmas has become more about giving gifts nowadays than it has about the tradition itself. There is now a rise within modern societies to find alternative ways to decrease the materialistic ways of celebrating the holiday by doing other more helpful things, such as volunteering or charity work.

Testing the concept of bipartisanship

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There has been a dire need to approach the concept of bipartisanship in society, and many parties and individuals are encouraging newer and better approaches and attitudes toward political discourse and governance practices within the American system. By relooking at ways to change policies and legislation, there may be hope for better policymaking.

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