As a foreigner in North Africa, it has often struck me how strong traditions are. For example, Moroccans are very fond of their sugary mint tea, and all of the Sfaxiens I have met married and had children at a young age without ever moving far from their families. One of the Tunisian English teachers at the school where I work introduced himself to me by saying, “I am 47 years old and am married, of course.” Family life is important, and family gatherings usually mean drinking sweetened tea or coffee, eating sweets and fruits, and having large meals with plenty of meat. The men sit around and smoke their cigarettes all evening, and even the youngest children stay up until midnight. These traditions seem to be strong in Morocco and Tunisia, and help hold families together.
My family is perhaps the complete opposite in many ways. First of all, we would never put so much sugar in our tea, and none of us smoke. We eat a lot less and get plenty of exercise, and are generally much more focused on health. Our family is very small and spread out across the U.S., and we rarely have gatherings of the entire family. Our approach to family life involves less traditions, and perhaps focuses more on individual relationships than on the collective family. I’d say it’s also probably better for dental hygiene and reducing the chances of diabetes. I think I’ll keep my family’s style of bonding, but I’m definitely happy to enjoy sugary tea with another family when given the chance.