Difference Between Culture and Tradition

Main Difference – Culture vs. Tradition

The two terms culture and tradition are interrelated concepts that are unique to different social groups. However, these two words cannot be used as synonyms. The main difference between culture and tradition is that Culture is the ideas, customs and social behavior of a particular social group whereas Tradition is the transmission of customs and beliefs from one generation to another. From these definitions, it should be clear to you that traditions are also a part of the culture.

What is Culture

Culture is the collective term to identify the ideas, customs and social behavior of a particular people or society. It can be a ways of life built up by a group of people. E.B. Taylor, the founder of cultural anthropology defines, culture as “complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”

Some aspects of human behavior, such as language, expressive forms such as ritual, religion, art, music,  dance and  practices such as cooking, shelter, clothing are found in all human societies. However, these practices differ according to different ethnicities, nationalities, and even different age groups. For example, the difference between dance forms in India and dance forms in China is a result of the difference in ethnicity and nationality. Culture is a social phenomenon, and a behavior of a particular individual is shaped by the culture.

The term culture can refer to a variety of concepts. For example, Culture can refer to what food is eaten by a particular group of people (ingredients: coconuts, ghee, wheat flour, etc.), how that food is prepared (methods: baking, boiling, raw, etc. ) and what are the customs associated with eating(use of chopsticks, men and women don’t sit at the same table, etc.)Difference Between Culture and Tradition

What is Tradition

Traditions are the ideas, beliefs that are passed down from one generation to another generation. Oxford Dictionary defines traditions as “the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way”. Unlike rules and regulations, following traditions is not obligatory.

Traditions can be common to a certain ethnic group, culture or even a family. For example, In India, people touch the feet of their elders to as a gesture of respect and subservience. This is unique to Indian society.

Moreover, new traditions can be created over time. Suppose two people start to something annually, over the years, it will become a family tradition, and it can even be transmitted to the future generations.Main difference -  Culture vs Tradition

Difference Between Culture and Tradition


Culture can be defined as ideas, customs and social behavior of a particular people or society.

Traditions can be defined ideas, beliefs that are passed down from one generation to another generation.

Social Group

Culture can be seen in a social group.

Traditions can be even seen in a family.


Culture is created by a particular social group of people, over a period of time.

Traditions can be created by individuals.Difference Between Culture and Tradition - info

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“Indian wedding Delhi” by Yogita – Wedding.(CC BY 3.0) via Commons

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