What is tradition?

What Does Tradition Mean

We explain what tradition is, its relationship with identity, with customs and various examples. Also, the tradition in law.

Traditions reinforce the sense of belonging to the same cultural identity.

What is tradition?

The term tradition encompasses, in very different areas of human life, the idea of ways of doing things that society considers convenient to preserve over time , and which are therefore transmitted from generation to generation. The origins of this word go back to traditio Latin , from the verb tradere , "transmit" or "deliver".

Traditions can be about customs , uses, patterns of coexistence or considerations around the religious, the legal, the cultural, and so on. In all these cases, however, it is an inheritable mental model , that is, a paradigm that is preserved over time through its repetition.

Therefore, when we talk about something or someone being traditional or traditionalist, we mean that they are attached to or that they value the customary, inherited way of doing things. In addition, traditions are part of the identity of societies , that is, of the patterns and beliefs that make up the idiosyncrasy or way of being of peoples.

There are unique traditions, specific to a society, and also others shared by peoples who have a common origin or who share historical and cultural characteristics. Thus, one can speak of national traditions, such as German traditions, but also Hispanic traditions, to cite an example, or Christian, Jewish or Muslim traditions.

It can serve you: Cultural heritage

Tradition and custom

Traditions and customs are some of the main manifestations of a given culture, and can be defined as a set of beliefs and experiences that are inherited from one generation to another. In that sense, these two terms are handled almost interchangeably.

However, customs are those social practices rooted in a community , linked to everyday life , with habits, which from being repeated so much have ended up becoming part of the local identity.

For their part, traditions involve a greater number of people , reinforcing their sense of belonging with respect to the same cultural identity . They include ritual, cultural, religious, gastronomic or folkloric practices.

For example, a coastal town in the Caribbean may have the custom of gathering in the plaza on Fridays to dance. It is something that they usually do, and that is repeated over time , but at a given moment it could not be done, or it could be done a day before or a day later, let's say, because it rains too much on a Friday.

But that same town, on certain dates of the year, worships the Virgin Mary through a procession of the statuette from the church to all corners of the town, religious festivals, specific foods , etc. This constitutes a religious tradition, which they most certainly share with neighboring peoples, and even with distant ones, who have the same cultural and religious history.

More in: Custom

Tradition in law

In the juridical and legal sphere, we speak of tradition in a peculiar sense. On the one hand, customary law (or simply customary law ) is the set of rules or modes of conflict resolution that were historically inherited, that is, that comes from tradition . This term comes from the customary Latin , which translates "custom" or "habit".

In this way, it is differentiated from the legal term "tradition" , which in legal terms is used for the act of delivering an asset to a natural or legal person. It is, in that sense, synonymous with transfer or transfer .

Examples of traditions

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Dragon dances are performed during the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Some examples of traditions of different origins are the following:

  • The day of the Dead. Celebrated in Mexico and other heir nations of the Mesoamerican past , it is a great and colorful celebration that takes place every November 1 or 2, to honor the memory of the deceased and, supposedly, briefly bring them back to life. This party has its own decoration, gastronomy and costumes.
  • The dancing devils. Celebrated in Corpus Christi in various locations in Venezuela, they consist of a group of dancers with devil masks that accompany the celebration of Holy Week and wear specific outfits, in some regions colorful and full of mirrors and crosses, in others neatly white. They are a local tradition that shares important features with traditions from other latitudes , as we will see shortly.
  • The carnival devils. Celebrated during carnival in the north of Argentina, specifically in the Andean highlands, they usually lead celebratory groups wearing colored costumes and mirrors, thus embodying the festivity during the three to four days of celebration. Unlike the Venezuelan variant, they are not so closely tied to the Christian religious tradition.
  • The dragon dances. Very common in China (and in Chinese communities throughout the world) during the celebration of the new year of its lunar calendar, they usually involve several dancers who wield a dragon sculpture on their heads , or a dragon made of different materials and colors .
  • The feast of Saint Nicholas. Tradition dedicated to the children of Europe , especially in its central and eastern countries, worships Saint Nicholas of Myra (Saint Nicholas of Bari) and usually consists of specific foods, as well as sweets and gifts for children. However, it varies greatly from region to region.

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