When the informant’s family gathers together for a meal at his grandparents’ house, they all hold up their glasses and say “skol!” at the same time, as a cheers-ing tradition. When they say “skol”, they look into everyone’s eyes before taking a sip of their drinks. When they raise their glasses up before saying “skol”, they are supposed to hold it chest level, as high as their third button. 


The informant has grown up with this tradition at every one of his family dinners with his grandparents, and is very accustomed to it, although he doesn’t know what the word “skol” itself means. The informant’s grandfather learned it from his parents who are Norwegian. The informant says that the “skol!” tradition is a Scandinavian tradition, and so his grandfather knows it from when he and his parents lived in Norway. 


This folk tradition within the informant’s family exemplifies the draw that many people feel towards tradition, even if they don’t necessarily know what it means. Most of all, it exemplifies the power that tradition has to bring groups of people together, especially when the traditions feel specific to a certain group.

In this way, traditions operate so much as markers of identity. In fact, perhaps the identity that traditions like the informant’s “skol” tradition gives to those who practice it carries just as much weight to them as the actual purpose/intention of the tradition itself. Additionally, practicing a tradition specific to a certain region/group after leaving said region keeps a sense of identity alive for its practitioners.