Every Monday evening, Mormons around the world pause, as families. Together they pray, sing, play games, eat snacks. This is all standard fare for many American households, but the difference is that for Mormons, it’s built into every Monday night (or sometimes another night) and it has an official, deceptively generic-sounding name: family home evening…

More than 100 years after family home evening was conceived, it has taken on new relevance in a modern, fast-paced culture. (Other religions’ rituals play a similar role in setting aside dedicated, special family time—the Jewish sabbath, in particular, stands out as a strong example.) As scholars of family life studying religious rituals, we have interviewed dozens of Mormon families about their daily practices, and they routinely brought up the difficulties of maintaining familial closeness as technology and media have hastened the pace of life.

Just as routinely, they talked about how useful family home evening is in pushing back on this speeding-up of the everyday. One parent we interviewed said that one of his kids finds the ritual boring, and while he says his child is not always wrong, he notes “every once in a while it just clicks. … It’s a real feeling of oneness as a family.” One young teen we talked to felt similarly. She said family home evening “brings you away from all of the stuff of the world” and “gives you a chance to realize that they’re your family.” (As is standard in scholarly research, our interviewees were promised confidentiality.)