Throughout the short story, Jackson reminds readers that the lottery is not a new town event. One example is seen when the author explains, "The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago."
These objects include a black box, such as the one Mr. Summers rested on a stool. The people of this community value tradition greatly. There was a rumor that the current box was made long ago with "pieces of the box that preceded it." The tradition of the lottery was long-practiced in this community. The people talk yearly about creating a new box, but their love of tradition prevents anyone from actually moving forward to design a new box.
Another mention of something that happened before the story began is that the townspeople once used "chips of wood" rather than "slips of paper" to complete the drawing.
A third example is seen when the author tells readers where the box was stored before previous lotteries:
The rest of the year, the box was put away, sometimes one place, sometimes another; it had spent one year in Mr. Graves' barn and another year underfoot in the post office, and sometimes it was set on a shelf in the Martin grocery and left there.
The townspeople seem to treat this box very casually; they store it in various places. The box does not seem to worry or concern the people.
Fourthly, there is mention of a "tuneless chant that had been rattled off duly each year," a sort of recital that used to be performed by the "official of the lottery." The details of this song are debated. Some people think the official had to stand a certain way while he sang it, and other people think he used to walk in the crowd of people while he sang.
Finally, a fifth mention of something that happened before the story is apparent when readers learn that some other communities are no longer using lotteries: "'Some places have already quit lotteries,' Mrs. Adams said."
Some townspeople immediately rebuff this idea, claiming that it is a troublesome and bad idea to stop the lottery systems.
All of these mentions of historical events remind readers that the lottery is a time-honored tradition in this community. Tradition matters greatly; the lottery, as strange as it may seem to the reader, is something the people of this community accept as necessary.