18 Beloved American Traditions That May Soon Disappear

Written By Jill Taylor

American traditions are so unique that most won’t be found anywhere else in the world. However, times have now changed, and many of these are fast becoming obsolete practices, just like the following 18 American traditions that are at the greatest risk of disappearing.

Family Dinners

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Most Americans still think family dinners are important, as they serve as rituals for catching up and bonding with everyone at the end of the day. However, many people have grown into busy schedules and prefer convenience foods, leaving family dinners at risk of disappearing completely.

Neighborhood Block Parties

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Block parties were extremely popular in the 1970s and gave community members a great chance to interact more personally with each other. Now, not only are these parties regarded by the police as hotspots for criminal activities, but people just don’t seem interested anymore. It’s a sad state of affairs!

Church Picnics

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Church attendance has declined since the early 2000s, and The Guardian reports that thousands of US churches close up yearly. Therefore, it’s no surprise why church picnics, which were avenues for community bonding, are now becoming a thing of the past.

Town Hall Meetings

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Traditional town hall meetings have been integral to American political culture since colonial times. Sadly, lawmakers now ditch them because they believe that physical meetings aren’t effective, claiming they only attract chaos from angry people. Online conferences have become the new go-to medium.

Watching Original TV Shows

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Who remembers tuning into NBC at 8:30 with anticipation, raring to catch the latest episode of Friends? Sadly, “TV shows” these days are available on-demand on streaming platforms, with all episodes released at the same time. Where’s the fun in that?

Traditional Storytelling Gatherings

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Natives passed history, folklore, rites, and every part of Native culture from generation to generation through the tradition of oral storytelling. Now, stories aren’t primarily kept in memories anymore, as documentation through books and digital platforms has taken over, which is pretty tragic.

Summer Vacations

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Summertime used to be a joyous occasion, with the kids getting long breaks from school, making it the perfect period for long-awaited family vacations. Sadly, most Americans now choose to remain at work during the summer, with a Newsweek poll attributing this to the higher costs of vacations and living.

Volunteer Firefighters

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Rural communities heavily relied on volunteer firefighters for their emergency response services, and this allowed them to save some money, too! However, there’s now an alarming disinterest in unpaid firefighting, and even departments that do get volunteers are having difficulty retaining them.

Girl Scouts Selling Cookies

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The Girl Scouts started selling cookies in 1917, and the practice of door-to-door cookie campaigns has been an integral part of the youth organization since 1928. Today, although the sale of cookies is still popular, the Girl Scouts have shifted their focus to online channels for reaching out to buyers.

Country Fairs

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First, the US ended its century-long participation in the World’s Fair after 1984, and then the advent of the COVID pandemic put country fairs at a general risk of extinction. Although they have resumed, attendance at even the biggest fairs in the US has never returned to what it used to be.

Theatre Performances

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Excerpts from the New York Times paint a clear, grim picture of American theatre: “Regional theaters are now staging fewer shows, giving fewer performances, laying off staff, and, in some cases, closing.” It’s a sad thing to witness, and once again, this is primarily due to the popularity of streamable entertainment.

Handwritten Letters

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Handwritten letters aren’t our primary medium of communication anymore, and we all know exactly why. The internet, through instant messaging platforms, has made sharing messages easier and faster. Today, writing letters by hand is only practiced by a few people for special occasions like weddings and birthdays. Bring it back, we say!

Community Cookbooks

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NPR says over 3,000 community cookbooks were published between 1864 and 1922 alone. These cookbooks contained favorite recipes from community members and were shared simply to care for neighbors. Now, digital books and links on the internet have relegated them to vintage status, although we must say they’re more convenient.

Potlucks

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Potlucks were to communities, what dinners were to families. Community members and even coworkers at the office bonded by bringing their own homemade cultural foods to parties. These days, they’re actively avoided by many communities, and it’s all because of health and safety. Sigh…

Working in Only One Company

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Another American tradition that will likely disappear soon is working within a company for decades, working up the corporate ladder as a representation of stability, discipline, and loyalty. A change in work culture has seen job hopping become the new norm, with Forbes sharing that 89% of Gen Zs participate in such ‘hops.’

Wedding Cakes

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Desserts like cupcakes are now replacing elaborate four-tier wedding cakes. Many people now see cakes as unnecessary, while they consider desserts more personal. Some even say desserts help them better meet their guests’ dietary restrictions. Either way, it’ll be sad to see wedding cakes disappear.

Matching Bridesmaid Dresses

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On the topic of weddings, bridesmaids no longer want to wear uniform dresses, and strangely, mismatched styles have skyrocketed in popularity. The explanation? Mismatching allows bridesmaids to be more comfortable and allows them to select dresses that match their style and body type. It’s not all about them!

Sunday Drives

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It’s sad to say that our last tradition at risk of disappearing is Sunday drives. When did you last go on a leisurely drive with the family? In the 20th century, this was a popular Sunday tradition in the US. Unfortunately, gas prices have now made this less attractive, and the tradition risks disappearing for good.

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