Difference Between Culture and Tradition

Culture vs Tradition

Culture and traditions are similar meaning terms and concepts used commonly by us in conversation. Many of us believe the two concepts are so similar that they can be used interchangeably. However, it is not so, and despite similarities and overlapping, there are differences that are highlighted in this article.


Culture is a very important concept that has been put forward to make it easier to better understand human behavior. It refers to composite body of knowledge that has evolved as a result of living and experiences of a people of a particular area. It is a tool that is used by anthropologists, to understand the human capacity as it evolved through shared experiences and not because of genetics. It is the culture of a particular people that helps them think in a better and more imaginative manner. Culture also allows the people of a place to be more creative and knowledgeable. The culture of a people is reflected in the customs, traditions, language, clothing, artifacts and materials used, and shared thought pattern.

Our learnt behavior and social skills are a result of the culture we are born into. The way we interact with other members of our society and the manner in which we cooperate with others to solve a problem is a direct result of the culture we have been living in. It becomes clear then that the complex whole that includes our clothes, language, knowledge, beliefs, traditions, customs, tools, and all other capabilities that are acquired by virtue of living in a particular area and society is what is termed as culture.

The true essence of a culture lies, not in the language or the tools used by a particular people, but how the people of the society look at and interpret at these tools. The values, customs and traditions of people are a better indicator of the shared culture of the people.


The set of customs and beliefs that are passed down the generations in a society and still practiced by the people of a society is referred to as its traditions. In different religions, there are different rituals that are the best examples of traditions that have been handed over by one generation to another. The way people greet each other, the way they eat, sleep and dress up are all distinct in different societies and reflect different traditions that developed over the course of time. Some objects are considered auspicious while some are believed to be evil in different societies and become a part of their traditions. For example, black is associated with evil and death in western society, and which is why people wear black clothes when they attend a funeral. On the other hand, people choose to wear white during funerals in India as white is the symbol of purity and death is regarded as an eternal truth.

The word tradition comes from the Latin tradere which means to give or to hand over. The word today has come to mean things and practices that are not modern and are being followed since old times. For a tradition to be formed, it should be passed over at least three generations. Tradition can be religious or cultural in nature. There are family traditions being followed in families for centuries too. There are finally individual traditions such as making resolutions on the eve of New Year.

What is the difference between Culture and Tradition?

• The composite body of knowledge of people that is acquired and not genetic is referred to as its culture

• Traditions are practices that are passed from one generation to another and are still being followed by the people

• Traditions are a part of the complex culture

• Traditions are mostly religious in nature though there are cultural traditions and family traditions too

• Culture is reflected in the language, dress and tools used by a people and the manner in which they share social skills

  • Nelson Papie Kolliesuah

    culture is the way of life of people in a particular society while tradition is a set of beliefs passed down from generations to generations.