Handler and Linnekin aim to define tradition and its common misuses in modern society. To view a particular tradition as old or new "encourages us to see culture and tradition naturalistically, as bounded entities made up of constituent parts that are themselves bounded objects. They go on to discuss how it is not really feasible to say that culture remains stagnant through time, because modern context changes the interpretation and meaning traditions from the past. In addition to this, for us to refer to the past means we are in the present and have a different frame of reference that influences how we view these aspects of culture as objects that identify certain nations and groups of people.
One of my favorite points they made was that the people who preceded us were not consciously aware they were establishing traditions for their nations - it was simply their way of life. Handler and Linnekin discuss this in their case study of culture in Hawaii, as they examine the convergence nationalist and rural Hawaiian tradition. This is why we do not need to base tradition off of its relation to the past - what is important is its relevance in present day society. In conventional luau, Hawaiians would offer kumu, a red fish, to the Gods, because "red was a ritually high color". But nowadays, luaus are characterized by the serving of lomi-lomi salmon. This is also a red fish, and as Handler and Linnekin point out, "very few modern Hawaiians are aware that lomi salmon is probably a surrogate for the kumu fish...this historical relationship is irrelevant, and lomi salmon is just as traditional, just as meaningful, as kulolo or laulaus".
This made really question what it means to have tradition, and what constitutes tradition in general. Just as we listen to certain types of music and are inclined to associate it with a specific culture, society, and/or setting, we distinguish people and groups of people through these defining characteristics. So even though tradition can bring about feelings of pride and nationalism, can it also be a means of separation amongst mankind? How so? Especially in America, where people come from all over the world with all different backgrounds, there can often be a conflict between the traditions of where you are from and the traditions the define where you settle. So how do you decide which ones are more important to stay true to? Is it possible to combine traditions from two separate societies and still feel as though you are equally a part of each one? Where does your personal identity come into play in all of this?