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Social Customs

42 Examples of Social Customs

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Customs are specific behaviors that are expected in a cultural context. These can be associated with a social situation such as a greeting or an event such as a holiday or special occasion. Although expected, customs are typically voluntary. Customs are a way to participate in culture and community life and help you to leave a good impression within a culture. The following are examples of customs.
"Cheers" before drinking
Addressing elders with respect
Apologizing when necessary
Avoiding shoes indoors
Bowing as a greeting
Celebrating Thanksgiving
Celebrating anniversaries
Celebrating birthdays
Clapping after a performance
Expressing condolences
Giving a firm handshake
Greeting with a wave
Holding the door open for others
Hosting block parties
Keeping your voice low in religious places
Kissing on the cheek
Making eye contact during conversation
Making introductions
Not interrupting others
Observing a siesta
Offering a gift when invited into someone's home
Offering congratulations
Offering your seat to the elderly
Removing hats indoors
Removing shoes indoors
Responding to invitations
Rites of passage such as coming of age ceremonies
Saying "bless you" when someone sneezes
Sending thank-you notes
Shaking hands
Showing appreciation for gifts
Social dinning such as family dinners
Standing during the national anthem
Standing when someone enters
Throwing baby showers
Tipping for services
Using chopsticks
Using honorifics such as Mr., Mrs. or Sir.
Using polite language
Visiting newborns
Wearing costumes on Halloween
Wearing protective charms

Customs vs Norms

Customs and norms are both types of social expectations. Customs are active things you do to participate in culture such as shaking hands and celebrating Halloween. Norms are things you either do or don't do in order to conform to a culture such as respecting personal space. These overlap and the distinction isn't always clear or important. However, customs are much more oriented towards positive things you do to show respect, engage others and celebrate whereas norms are more oriented to politeness and general social conformity.


Social customs are specific actions that are expected of a social situation or special occasion within a culture. These are viewed as a form of social and cultural participation that help to build and sustain relationships within a culture.

Social Norms

This is the complete list of articles we have written about social norms.
Bliss Point
Bright Line
Global Culture
Honor System
Role Of Friendship
School Culture
Social Customs
Social Expectations
Social Norms
Social Psychology
Social Systems
Unwritten Rule
Youth Culture
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