Custom and Tradition are words traditionally alike, as it has common usage in our communities, Villages and Society. As a matter of fact, People use both words interchangeably as they are presumed to have the same meaning and convey the same message in a Sentence. However, that is not grammatically the case in English Language, as both words seems to convey different meaning and both carries a degree of disparity between them.
This Article therefore examines the meaning of these words, and explores the differences which exist between Custom and Tradition.
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Definition of Custom
Custom as the name implies means a particular way of living, acting, behaving or doing something that is accustomed to a particular set of People, Society, or Community.
The meaning of the word can be traced to the Latin verb ‘Consvescera‘ which means to accustom or to get used to.
Stricto Sensu, Custom can be defined as a way of behaving or a belief which has been established for a long time and which has been a habitual practice of an individual, cultural group, or has been practiced collectively.
Flowing from this, a Custom can be said to apply to either an Individual, Society or Community. For instance: Wherein I always wake up by 6am and leave my house by 8am every Morning, this can be categorized as a Custom for me as it has now become my way of living established for a long time. You can now say that: Anayo Tochukwu wakes up by 6am every Morning as is his Custom.
Also, a Custom as generally known, applies to a Cultural group or Community. It could be established from regular usage and people getting accustomed to it for a while. For example: It is now a Custom in the East to sit at home every Monday. A Custom may also be an established usage in a Society having the force of Law. For example, there are some Custom against committing adultery in Nigeria.
Furthermore, a Custom can be defined as a Social behaviour which has been keenly followed by people and different Social groups for a long while that they find it difficult to change it. For example: Shaking hands when you meet somebody new.
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Meaning of Tradition
Tradition can simply be defined as the transmission of a Custom from one generation to another. It is a custom, belief, Principle, and way of action which people in a Society or Village have continued for a long time. For example: It is our Tradition to Celebrate New Yam Festival every year. My school have a long tradition of producing great athletes. Storytelling has been a long tradition in our community.
Additionally, Tradition can be defined as a Custom, behaviour, knowledge passed from one generation to another, and has created a strong bond amongst members of the community.
Tradition may be passed from one generation to another through Storytelling, Books, Oral Communication, Unwritten Laws in the Society, Rites and Customs, and transmission of knowledge, Opinion from forefathers to descendants.
Flowing from the above considered definitions of both Custom and Tradition, we can all agree that there are lots of similarities between them, this is why they are often used interchangeably. These similarities include.
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Similarities between Custom and Tradition
1. Both Custom and Tradition starts in a Family and extends to a Community.
2. Tradition is a Custom passed from generation to generation.
3. Both are ways of behaving, acting, and living in a society.
4. Both Custom and Tradition get established over time.
5. Both Custom and Tradition provide us with a source of identity.
6. Both Customs and Tradition connect generations, strengthen Cultural group bonds, and make us feel unique.
7. Both are not rules per se, but guidelines and mode of living and acting in a Particular Society.
8. Custom and Tradition are common usages which keep members of a society together.
9. Both Custom and Tradition evolve over a period of time.
10. Finally, both Custom and Tradition usually starts from a Small group or act wherein such act is constantly practiced for years till it becomes a Custom and then passes from generation to generation, and becomes a Tradition.
From the above, we can all agree that Custom and Tradition have a lot in common. However, there exist some disparity between them.
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Differences Between Custom And Tradition
1. A Custom is a usage, Principle, Belief, way of doing things common to a particular group of people or a particular place, society or community. While a Tradition is a Custom which is passed from generation to generation that it becomes a Tradition.
2. A Tradition is a Custom which has passed down over many years, while a Custom has no year limitation and could be a new practice in a community. Thus, the length of time of a tradition is way more and longer than that of a Culture.
3. A Tradition is a Practice which has been observed by most people in a Community, while a Custom could be a Practice which has only been observed at an Individual or Family Level.
4. Another difference is the fact that all Traditions are Customs, while it is not all Customs that are Traditions. As a Custom may be a National, Personal or Cultural practice, but it is only when it is followed by many and such practice is handed from generation to generation, that it becomes a Tradition.
5. A Custom is more common, and does not necessarily require special organization unlike a Tradition. For example: Waking up by 6am every Morning could be a Custom for me. A bride wearing a white apparel for her Wedding may be a Custom in a Society.
These are common and those not require special organization. However, hosting a New Year Festival or a Parade of Masquerade is a Tradition for some communities, and this requires special planning. Thus, you can see that a Tradition usually requires Planning, Organization and unlike a Custom a Tradition Is not easy and common.
6. Customs are Culture and Practices that we do because we like it or we are used to it, unlike a Tradition which are usually beliefs handed down to us. Thus, whether you like it or not, you have to conform to it, do it, and practice it.
7. A Custom Could be a Societal Practice while a Tradition is something which the society carries on.
8. Customs are not as old as Traditions, and it is usually practiced by fewer people.
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Conclusively, Customs and Tradition are generally interwoven because Today’s Custom is Tomorrow’s Tradition. However, Tradition is the ideas, beliefs, and practice passed down from one generation to another, while a Custom is a collective term for Beliefs and Practices in the society. This is the major distinction between them, and I trust this Article has comprehensively given you a good number of other differences which exist between Custom and Tradition.
We can now all agree that irrespective of the close similarities which exist between Custom and Tradition, there are peculiar differences between them, and I believe you have now learnt and understood these differences. For more scintillating and educative Articles, stay glued to this blog.
Tochukwu Anayo-Enechukwu is a Public Speaker, Content Creator and Prolific Writer. His proficiency in writing has earned him numerous publications in National and International Magazines. Recently, he was awarded Co-author of Songs of Peace – The World’s Biggest Anthology of Contemporary Poetry ever to be published. You can contact him via [email protected] or 08109494399.