Difference between habit and custom

When people’s way of life, their attitudes, actions and manners are repeated and repetitive, they can become habits or customs, which in turn characterize a person, a family or a society.

Therefore, habits and customs are recurring practices that are part of human nature and manifest themselves in different ways. In this sense, in this article we will show the differences between habits and customs, after briefly defining them.


A habit can be defined as a special way of proceeding or behaving, which is acquired through the repetition of the same or similar acts. Habits are repetitive practices of the person, characterizing them based on their constant execution and which become an ordinary part of their behavior.

Similarly, habits are learned, since they originate from instinctive tendencies, tastes and repetitive practices. For a behavior or action to become a habit, it must be practiced permanently or frequently. These can be transmitted from parents to children, since certain family practices are learned and adopted by new generations who appropriate them and continue to execute them.

It can be said that habits can be eating, hygiene, recreation, rest, intellectual, emotional, physical, among others. When a person performs an action frequently, both the body and the mind get used to the practice and it becomes common and natural for the person. Hence, the habit is an individual and personal practice.

Likewise, some habits can become vices, when they are executed without control or awareness. On the other hand, habits are influenced and determined by the values, ideas, feelings and significant experiences of the person and their family nucleus. Hence, a person educated in positive values ​​will consequently have healthy habits.

Example : having a cup of coffee after eating, reading the newspaper in a certain chair, sleeping after eating or reading a book before going to sleep are some habits.


Customs can be defined as the set of qualities, inclinations, beliefs, practices and collective uses that distinguish a community, town, city or nation. It is therefore about collective habits, accepted by those who live in a given community and adopted, generally, by the new settlers of said locality. Customs can still be carried to other regions.

In the same order of ideas, when a family or a group of people move to another country or region, they can maintain certain customs of their nation even when these have variations and adaptations of space, climate, time or even dates. Customs are transmitted from generation to generation and are determined by the educational system, religion, culture, political system, ethnic group of origin and even factors such as the climate can affect the customs of a people or nation.

Example : the carnival celebrations of Cádiz and Tenerife, the Tomatina, among others, are part of the customs of the Spanish.

As can be seen, there are important differences between habit and custom, which can be summarized as:

  • Habits are individual, so they refer to the practice of individual actions while customs are collective and refer to the set of habits of a people or nation.
  • Habits are acquired while customs are accepted.
  • Habits are determined by the values, ideas, feelings and experiences of the person while customs are determined by the culture, ideology, political system, religion and education of a people or nation.

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