Difference between Ritual and Tradition

Ritual vs. Tradition

What is Difference between Ritual and Tradition? Each society and culture usually has a set of rituals and traditions that make them different from others. These are unwritten laws and norms concerning behavior and action in interaction with other people in society. These rituals and traditions also refer to cultural events and ceremonies that are practiced in a particular society and usually are usually related to religion. Between these two terms there are many similarities and that is why many people can confuse them, but there are several differences between ritual and tradition, which we will show below.

Difference between Ritual and Tradition


In all societies, important functions, events, ceremonies, festivals, etc., are marked by certain acts or a series of acts that have a symbolic value. Rituals are usually seen as religious because in most cases they are linked to a religion, for this very reason they are often considered as important for the people who practice them. In fact it is the presence of rituals that causes formal events and traditions to emerge over time.

In the Hindu religion for example, children have to undergo a ritual called yagyopavit sanskar, where they shave their heads and have a chain on their shoulders. Both acts have a symbolic value and are equivalent to what is baptism, which marks the initiation to Christianity of an individual.


A tradition is an act, behavior or belief system that is transmitted from one generation to another in a society or culture and has a special meaning for the members of that society. Previously most traditions were transmitted in the form of folklore or stories to remember and learn concepts about morality, loyalty, compassion, friendship, courage, etc.

Traditions often help in the union of a society, acting as a fabric throughout the social spectrum. They also help individuals in a society know how to behave in interaction with others. One of the most accepted definitions for the term tradition was proposed by Edward Shils in his book Traditions, which states that a tradition is something of the past that is transmitted to the present.

Key Differences between Ritual and Tradition is: Tradition is a generic term that encompasses a wide variety of things and concepts that are transmitted from one generation to the next.

Ritual is an act or series of acts performed in a society.