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Customs vs. Traditions: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Customs are established practices in social behavior, while traditions are inherited beliefs and actions passed through generations.
Customs vs. Traditions

Key Differences

Customs are often practices that dictate how people conduct themselves in specific situations, like social norms or legal requirements. They can be formal or informal and are generally accepted by a group. Traditions, on the other hand, are beliefs or behaviors passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance, often originating in the past.
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Dec 22, 2023
Customs can be seen as the daily practices and rituals that form the fabric of daily life. They are the "how" of doing things in a society, guiding actions and interactions. Traditions are more about the preservation of cultural heritage, representing the "why" behind these practices, often carrying emotional or historical significance.
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Dec 22, 2023
Customs tend to change and evolve more rapidly as societies develop and interact with others. They are adaptable and can vary widely even within a single country. In contrast, traditions are more enduring, sometimes lasting centuries, and are less susceptible to change, reflecting a deep-rooted cultural history.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 22, 2023
Customs often dictate the manners and etiquette in a society, such as how to greet someone, dress codes, or table manners. These are learned behaviors that aid in social cohesion. Traditions, however, are often linked to cultural or religious ceremonies, like festivals, rites of passage, and celebrations, which have deeper meanings and connect people to their cultural or familial history.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 22, 2023
In essence, customs can be thought of as the framework within which daily life is conducted, often without much thought, as they become second nature. Traditions, meanwhile, are more conscious acts that connect individuals to their past, often observed during specific times or events and involving a sense of ceremony or celebration.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 22, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Definition

Established social practices
Inherited cultural beliefs and actions
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Dec 22, 2023

Change and Evolution

More adaptable and subject to change
Generally enduring and resistant to change
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Dec 22, 2023

Scope

Daily life, social norms, etiquette
Cultural or religious ceremonies, festivals
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Dec 22, 2023

Purpose

Facilitate social interaction and cohesion
Preserve cultural heritage and history
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Dec 22, 2023

Origin

Can arise spontaneously in any society
Often rooted in ancient or historical practices
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Customs and Traditions Definitions

Customs

Established and widely accepted practices in a society.
In many cultures, it's customary to remove shoes before entering a home.
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Dec 12, 2023

Traditions

Time-honored practices with special cultural or familial significance.
Family reunions at Christmas are a cherished tradition in many households.
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Dec 12, 2023

Customs

Conventional rules governing social behavior.
It is a custom to shake hands when meeting someone in many Western cultures.
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Dec 12, 2023

Traditions

Long-established customs or beliefs passed down through generations.
Celebrating Thanksgiving is a tradition in the United States.
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Dec 12, 2023

Customs

Practices followed by a group as part of their identity.
The custom of having afternoon tea is deeply ingrained in British culture.
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Dec 12, 2023
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Traditions

Practices or beliefs that have historical importance.
Wearing white at weddings is a longstanding tradition in many cultures.
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Dec 12, 2023

Customs

Regular practices or usual ways of behaving.
In many offices, it's a custom to have casual dress Fridays.
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Dec 12, 2023

Traditions

Rituals or ceremonies that are part of cultural heritage.
The tradition of lighting candles during Diwali is significant in Hindu culture.
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Dec 12, 2023

Customs

Traditional methods or styles prevalent in a particular area.
The custom of greeting with a bow is prevalent in many East Asian countries.
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Dec 12, 2023

Traditions

Symbolic behaviors or events representing a culture's values.
The tradition of the Chinese New Year parade showcases cultural heritage.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 12, 2023

Customs

A traditional practice or usual way of doing something followed by a social group or people.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 10, 2023

Traditions

The passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation, especially by oral communication
Cultural practices that are preserved by tradition.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 10, 2023

Customs

The tradition or body of such practices
The respect that is by custom accorded to the king.
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Dec 10, 2023

Traditions

A mode of thought or behavior followed by a people continuously from generation to generation; a custom or usage
The traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
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Dec 10, 2023

Customs

A habitual practice of a person
My custom of reading a little before sleep.
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Dec 10, 2023

Traditions

A set of such customs and usages viewed as a coherent body of precedents influencing the present
Followed family tradition in dress and manners.
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Dec 10, 2023

Customs

Habitual manner or practice
I am not by custom a coffee drinker.
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Dec 10, 2023

Traditions

A precept or a body of precepts that are not written in the sacred book of a religion, such as the Bible, but are considered holy or true.
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Dec 10, 2023

Customs

(Law) A common tradition or usage so long established that it has the force or validity of law.
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Dec 10, 2023

Traditions

A style or method of an activity or practice, especially of artistic expression, that is recognized and sometimes imitated
Satire in the tradition of Jonathan Swift.
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Dec 10, 2023

Customs

Habitual patronage, as of a store
Tried to obtain the custom of the wealthiest shoppers.
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Dec 10, 2023

Traditions

A piece of folklore
"a popular medieval tradition that identified the queen of Sheba with the Blessed Virgin Mary" (Nicholas Clapp).
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Dec 10, 2023

Customs

Duties or taxes imposed on imported and, less commonly, exported goods.
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Dec 10, 2023

Traditions

Plural of tradition
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Dec 10, 2023

Customs

(used with a sing. verb) The governmental agency authorized to collect these duties.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 10, 2023

Customs

(used with a sing. verb) The place where goods and baggage entering a country are inspected by this agency
Go through customs.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 10, 2023

Customs

Tribute, service, or rent paid by a feudal tenant to a lord.
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Dec 10, 2023

Customs

Made to order
Custom suits.
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Dec 10, 2023

Customs

Specializing in the making or selling of made-to-order goods
A custom tailor.
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Dec 10, 2023

Customs

(in the plural) The duties or taxes imposed on imported or exported goods.
Customs of £200 were due on all the wine we took back from France.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 10, 2023

Customs

The government department or agency that is authorised to collect the taxes imposed on imported goods.
Customs stopped us in the airport for an inspection.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 10, 2023

Customs

The process of going through customs checks at a border checkpoint.
They usually don't care about customs, but she was clearly planning on selling most of it.
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Dec 10, 2023

Customs

The location at a border checkpoint where customs checks are carried out.
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Dec 10, 2023

Customs

Plural of custom
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Dec 10, 2023

Customs

Money collected under a tariff; a duty imposed on imported goods.
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Dec 10, 2023

Customs

The government department administering the collection of import tariffs. Used with as singular verb.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 10, 2023

Customs

That area within an airport, sea port, or other border station where freight or the baggage of travellers is checked for dutiable materials or contraband; as, it took an hour to get through customs.
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Dec 10, 2023

Customs

Money collected under a tariff
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Dec 10, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

How are traditions formed?

Traditions are formed through practices and beliefs being passed down through generations, often holding symbolic or historical significance.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 22, 2023

What defines a custom?

A custom is a widely accepted practice or norm in a society, often related to social behavior.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 22, 2023

Are traditions static?

While traditions are more resistant to change than customs, they can evolve over time, especially when influenced by external factors.
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Dec 22, 2023

What role do customs play in society?

Customs facilitate social interaction, provide structure and predictability, and help maintain social cohesion.
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Dec 22, 2023

Can customs vary within the same country?

Yes, customs can vary widely within a country, often influenced by regional, cultural, or ethnic differences.
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Dec 22, 2023

Can traditions be personal or family-based?

Yes, traditions can be specific to individuals or families, often unique to their history or experiences.
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Dec 22, 2023

Can new customs be created?

Yes, new customs can be created as societies evolve and adapt to new circumstances or influences.
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Dec 22, 2023

Can customs become traditions?

Yes, customs can evolve into traditions if they gain special cultural significance and are passed down through generations.
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Dec 22, 2023

Are traditions always religious or cultural?

While many traditions are religious or cultural, some can also be familial or specific to certain groups without religious connotations.
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Dec 22, 2023

Why are traditions important in culture?

Traditions are important as they preserve cultural heritage, connect people to their history, and provide a sense of identity and continuity.
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Dec 22, 2023

Do customs need to be formalized?

Customs can be formal or informal, with some evolving organically within a society without any formal recognition.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 22, 2023

How are traditions preserved?

Traditions are preserved through practice, teaching, and often through ceremonial activities or storytelling.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 22, 2023

Can traditions change with migration?

Yes, traditions can adapt and change as people migrate, blending with or absorbing elements of other cultures.
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Dec 22, 2023

How do customs impact daily life?

Customs impact daily life by providing guidelines for behavior, interactions, and practices in various social contexts.
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Dec 22, 2023

Do customs have legal implications?

Some customs can have legal implications, especially if they are codified into laws or regulations.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 22, 2023

What differentiates customs from laws?

Customs are social practices accepted by a group, while laws are formal rules enforced by a governing authority.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 22, 2023

Is participation in traditions mandatory?

Participation in traditions is generally voluntary, though there can be social pressure to conform, especially in tightly knit communities.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 22, 2023

What makes a tradition valuable?

A tradition's value lies in its ability to connect individuals to their cultural or familial roots and to convey shared values and history.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 22, 2023

Are traditions always old?

Not necessarily. While traditions often have historical roots, they can also be relatively recent if they have gained significant cultural importance.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 22, 2023

Can customs conflict with modern values?

Yes, customs can sometimes conflict with modern values, especially when they are resistant to change.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 22, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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