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Tradition is the passing down of the elements of culture such as beliefs and customs, from one generation to another which could be either through oral or written means. A tradition is something that was practiced by forefathers in the past which is now being transferred or handed down to the new generation. People of this present generation will pass on the tradition to those of the future generation. Traditions carry symbols with different meanings that are sacred to people of a particular origin. There is a misconception that traditions are fetish activities or beliefs. This is not true because not all traditions are. Tradition could be a normal or routine behavior of an individual that was passed down from parents, grand-parents or people from three generations back.
Tradition is not the same as culture. Culture encompasses all what define a society such as the custom, beliefs, arts, language, food and so on while tradition is the process of passing on all what define a culture. Culture is not static and changes over time and with the introduction and influence of other culture(s) while tradition is static and do not change. The tradition of a society or that of a family that was practiced decades of years back will still be in existence in the next ten years. Tradition of a family or lineage may differ from that of another lineage or family in the same society while culture is the same or similar across all families in a society. This means that culture is general and not individually-oriented while tradition can be individual or private.
Importance of Tradition
Many people are of the opinion that tradition should be eradicated because some may be barbaric and archaic while some oppose this opinion by saying that tradition should not be wiped off but be maintained because of the its importance. Some of the advantages of traditions are :
The tradition(s) one is imbibed with shows a great level of social identity. The tradition of a place, society one live in or a group one belong to shows one’s identity. So far an individual practice such tradition(s), it means that he or she is also a member of that group.
Traditions hold people with the same roots or origins together. It brings people with the same background together through the passage of some norms, values and behaviours. Through unity, traditions promote inter-personal relationship among members of a family or origin.
Traditions enable the young ones to learn the values and morals of the society. They are also being familiarized with what they are expected to do or not. Traditions guides people’s act and constrains their behavior. It impose on an individual a sense of responsibilities. An example is a family tradition where all the girls are expected to marry as virgins. This tradition will curb their sexual act and make them keep themselves until marriage.
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The passage of values, norms and behavior from the previous generation(s) helps to remind the youths and those of the new generation of the values and morals of their origin. If there are no traditions, the youths will forget their source and all what that are held at high esteem by the society, groups or families.
Should Traditions Be Static?
We need to be careful when dealing with our traditions. Our obedience to traditions should not pose a threat to lives, health and freedom. Those that contain the accurate knowledge needed for our development should be embraced while those that are harmful should be shunned. Example are the traditions of female circumcision, burying of a dead king with living souls, killing of rape victims among others.