Growing up in a big Italian family, we had a lot of traditions. The Christmas Eve meal? Had to be fish. Shoes in a box were never put on a table. Blessing a new car with coins thrown inside was a must. Good, harmless traditions were part of life. They were quirky, funny and harmless.

However, some things attributed to tradition in the Virgin Islands need to go. Some traditions are good. Others are not.

There are things that have gone on, year after year, because of “tradition.” But just because something was done a certain way in the past, doesn’t make it one bit right. These questionable traditions aren’t helping our community in any way, shape or form.

The recently exposed tradition, of paying West Indian Co. board members $1,500 per meeting — and the chair $2,000 per meeting — is wrong. Service on this board needs to be payment-free. It needs to go.

The traditions of dog and cock fighting are doubly wrong, no matter whose grandfather used to do it in the past. Hurting animals is never right. It needs to go.

The refusal to entertain new Carnival venues, which has been attributed to tradition, has stalled any conversations about a newer, better Carnival experience. It needs to go.

The traditional ban on selling alcohol on Good Friday, an old-fashioned tradition, has no place in a multicultural, multifaith community and needs to go.

The tradition of hiring within, often without considering better qualified “outsiders,” for top government jobs needs to go. Small communities need new brain power to keep moving forward.

Culture is different from tradition. When we get stuck in bad traditions and want to change them, it is not disrespecting culture. It is enhancing and growing the vibrant community we all live in.

— Maria Ferreras is a longtime St. Thomas resident and community volunteer. She can be reached at