Human beings unify and interrelate the culture: a complex system of symbols, practices and rituals that are transmitted from generation to generation, and that largely shape our way of being in the world. This set of knowledge and visions inherited and preserved over time are expressed through customs and traditions, which are repeated and celebrated on a specific date and way, to keep alive some ancestral feeling in the group. For instance: Day of the Dead, Halloween, Oktoberfest, Christmas.
Although they are more or less synonymous terms, we could differentiate them in that the traditions harbor a greater degree of formality and national elaboration, they often constitute identifying symbols of the national or the regional in the face of the cultural exchange of the nations, while the customs mainly point to the intimate, the unofficial and unsaid.
Both usually involve dance, costume, gastronomy or certain forms of mysticism or religiosity, although the same tradition can be expressed through different customs or specific elaborations.
Examples of traditions and customs
- The Mexican cult of the dead. Of ancestral origins, this tradition celebrates once a year the day of all the dead, on November 1 and 2. Skull-shaped sweets and sweet breads (“Pan de muerto”) are common, as are rhymes (“calaveras”: humorous and satirical epitaphs), cartoon lithographs, and offerings to deceased souls.
- Halloween Day. Also known as “Halloween” and linked to the medieval burning of witches and the night of the Walpurgis, it is actually the contraction of All Hallows’ Eve: “the eve of All Saints”. It is celebrated by decorating homes with orange and black, lighted candles, and sculpted pumpkins (“Jack-o-lantern”), And children’s costumes to trick the neighborhood.
- The carnival. The carnival festivals have their origin in the Roman Empire, inherited in turn from Hellenic celebrations to the god Bacchus or even earlier cultures, but they come to us linked to the Christian calendar and the days of Lent. It is common in almost the entire Christian world and combines costumes, parades and street parties, with jokes, jokes and the celebration of the body.
- Celebrate birthday. Practically universal tradition of the human being, commemorating the day of his coming into the world, consists of intimate parties and gifts from his loved ones, as well as various customs that can range from different variants of the birthday song, eating a cake or sweet with candles, down to the kind of ritual gifts and obligations.
- Sunday mass. Christian custom par excellence, which summons the faithful to the church to receive a sermon of religious and moral instruction from the local parish priest, as a way to constantly renew the bonds of faith. It is usually celebrated on Sundays, the day of rest according to the Bible, although each of the Christian sects celebrates it according to their particular religious norms and visions.
- New year celebration. Another universally accepted tradition but expressed through diverse customs, usually involves parades, fireworks, family gatherings and public festivals, marking the end of one annual cycle and the beginning of another. Typical foods are eaten (a Hispanic classic is the twelve grapes or chickpeas just before the new year), rituals (wearing yellow clothes, bringing food to the neighbors, throwing the old out of the window) or symbols (the dragon, for example, during the Chinese New Year).
- Yom kippur. Jewish tradition of penance and prayers, called “The Great Forgiveness,” celebrated ten days after the Hebrew New Year. It is customary to undertake a fast from dusk until dusk the next day and any type of conjugal relations, personal hygiene or drinking is prohibited. Sephardim are used to wearing white during these dates.
- Oktoberfest. Literally: “October party”, it takes place in the Bavarian region of Germany, especially the city of Munich, once a year between September and October. It is a celebration of beer, a typical product of the region, whose origin is supposed in 1810 and which usually lasts for 16 to 18 continuous days of celebration.
- Viking festivals. Custom of the European Nordic countries in which they recall their Scandinavian roots through costumes, specific dinners and antique markets, all in order to pay tribute to the customs of the original tribes of the region.
- Ramadan. It is the month of fasting and purification of Muslims, the beginning of which marks the end of the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar, during which sexual intercourse, altered moods and the intake of food or drink are prohibited from dawn to dawn. to become night.
- Marriage party. Another almost universal custom of man, which formally and socially inaugurates the period of coexistence of a couple, through specific festivals and rituals, linked or not with religion and the church. They vary greatly according to culture and religion, but usually involve parties, dances, ceremonial dresses for the spouses and some symbol of commitment (such as rings).
- Saint John festivity. Common to Catholic peoples but with particular emphasis on Afro-descendant populations of the Caribbean (Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela), in whose history the Christian saint assimilated African deities and allowed the coexistence of cults. It is usually accompanied by drums, alcoholic beverages and a lot of dancing around the towns.
- Gnocchi on 29. Every 29th of the month, in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay it is customary to eat some preparation of gnocchi (from the Italian gnocchi: a type of pasta made with potatoes), a custom undoubtedly received from the large Italian immigration of the 19th and 20th centuries.
- Clitoral ablation. Common custom in sub-Saharan Africa and certain South American peoples, consisting of the section or cut of the clitoris in newborn girls; an ancestral form of hygiene that is being widely fought by international organizations for the protection of women, since it does not represent any benefit and upsets their sexual health.
- The levirate. A custom repealed in most of the western world but still resisting in some African peoples, it proposes the obligation of the brother of a deceased husband to marry the widow and perpetuate the family home. Note that in many of these towns bigamy and polygamy are common.
- Descent of the saint. In the Yoruba religion, widely disseminated in the Hispanic Caribbean, there is an initiation process during which a specific deity is being linked with one of his faithful, and this requires him to wear absolutely white clothes for specific periods that vary from one year at three months.
- Sanfermines. Spanish tradition in Pamplona, Navarra, which worships San Fermín through various public festivals and the confinement, a journey that some brave people from the town take to the central square of the city, being chased by several raging bulls.
- Japanese tea ceremony. Linked with a certain practice of Zen Buddhism, it is a custom to treat guests with crushed green tea. This is done through a ritual of manual gestures and procedures prescribed by tradition and that constitute a way of connecting with one’s own.
- Kings Day. Catholic custom that survives in Spain and some Latin American countries, in conflict with the more commercial and universal concept of Christmas (with Santa Claus and the Christmas trees, etc.). Celebrate the arrival of the Magi (The Wise Men from the East) to the birthplace of Christ, by exchanging gifts.
- Thanksgiving Day. Exclusively North American and Canadian celebration, inheritance of traditions carried by the colonists and coinciding with the harvest festivals of the Native Americans, usually through the preparation of turkey and fruit cakes. In some regions commemorative events and parades are held.