Cue Card # 3: Describe an interesting tradition in your country

IELTS Cue Card/ Candidate Task Card # 3

Describe an interesting tradition in your country.

You should say:

  • what it is
  • how old this tradition is
  • whether the people in your country follow this tradition

and explain how you personally feel about this tradition.

[You will have to talk about the topic for one to two minutes. You have one minute to think about what you are going to say. You can make some notes to help you if you wish.]

Model Answer 1:

Thank you sir/madam, for this nice candidate task card topic. Though I am originally from China, I currently live in the UK. Having lived in China for more than 18 years, I have had great exposure to various Chinese traditions and among them, some are quite interesting and unique. China, as a large country with a huge population, has some really unusual traditions that people in other countries would think distinctive, and sometimes strange.

One such tradition is that ’Chinese men carry handbags’, and China has the highest percentage of male handbag careers in the world. I am sure people who are not accustomed to seeing men carrying handbags of various colours and designs, would find it really peculiar.

Traditionally men have to carry a large amount of money, and cheques are not widely used in China. This is why men need to carry handbags in our country. The highest denomination of Chinese yen is a hundred and that is why business people need to carry such bags to take large wads of cash. Also, Chinese men cheerfully carry their wife’s handbags and purses.

I am not sure exactly how old this custom is but I believe this must be at least several hundred years old. I often wondered what western tourists think when they see that Chinese men carry colourful handbags as Western women do! Top brands like Gucci and Prada should target these Chinese men and expand their business market in China, and who knows maybe they have already targeted them!

Yes, most Chinese men follow this tradition and it has a more practical purpose than its fashion value.

As a Chinese, I find it quite natural. In fact, before I left China, I thought men in other countries also carry handbags but after I reached the United Kingdom, I realised that this is not the case. I personally believe that there is nothing wrong with carrying a handbag when it has many practical utilisations. However, men in most countries find it hilarious and funny. As a Chinese, I respect this tradition, nevertheless.

Model Answer 2:

India, my native land, has so many diverse traditions that it will probably take a whole year to talk about them. But, thankfully, I have been asked to talk about only one of those traditions. This is indeed an intriguing topic to talk about, and I would like to thank you for that.

Anyway, this interesting tradition, I am talking about, is popularly known as “Holi” or the “festival of colours” in just plain English. It is a popular ancient “Indian” tradition (many prefer to call it a festival also) which heralds the arrival of the spring season after the winter.

Even though it is a predominantly Hindu tradition, it is being celebrated by non-Hindu communities of my country as well for centuries, dating back from as early as the 4th century CE. Celebrated in the month of March every year, it signifies the victory of good over evil and is celebrated as a day of spreading happiness and love.

The festival is also celebrated as a thanksgiving for a good harvest. So, no wonder that people in my country like to follow this tradition like a “religion” because it very much defines who we are as people – people that value their religious traditions from their heart. Anyway, even though, this tradition is very much about smearing each other with “colours” (mostly “red”), different people from different parts of India observe this tradition by trying significantly different things or customs. For example, while women beat up their men with sticks in “Uttar Pradesh”, the men in “Maharashtra” get busy breaking the “clay made pot by climbing on top of each other.

Anyway, I would like to say that I feel really good about this tradition that creates a sense of solidarity among many different groups of people in my country who are otherwise divided into many different customs and cultures. Besides, this tradition also offers our people an opportunity to enjoy their life a little.

Here we would be listing down some interesting traditions from different countries around the world. It is up to you to pick one (preferably from your country or the one that matches the tradition common in your country) and then elaborate on it to talk about this topic. So let’s begin.

(1) Married couples should not visit the toilet. What? Yes, No matter how weird it seems, it is a tradition that is practised in many parts of Indonesia. Why do they do so? It is considered bad luck for newlywed couples. So what do they do? They are offered little food and water for the first three days. Well, when I heard about this unique tradition from a friend of mine who happened to be from Indonesia, I thought she was making this up. Then I dug into the internet and was quite surprised to learn that it is indeed true for some people in Indonesia. For many, a wedding means delicious feasts, perhaps not in Indonesia, at least not for the bride and the groom!

(2) In many parts of the Middle East and South Asia, greeting someone with the left hand or eating with the left hand is considered rude and unsanitary. While shaking the left hand and eating with it is quite common in many countries, it is not so in the Middle East and South Asia. Also giving something or accepting something with the left hand can be an act of insult. So, if you happen to be visiting one of those countries, and you are a left-handed person, it is better to pronounce that beforehand.

(3) While the world loves white flowers, they may convey a different meaning to a Chinese person. So we should be careful to give a white flower to one of our Chinese colleagues or friends. In China, white flowers are associated with ghosts and death. Chinese traditions have developed for over a millennium, and many Chinese adhere to those traditions even if many of them seem pure superstitions. So if you are an outsider, you should be very careful about what you give to one of your Chinese friends. A few other things that you should often avoid as a gift in china include clocks, handkerchiefs, and umbrellas.

(4) In many South Asian countries, including India, Nepal and Bangladesh, it is a tradition to feed the guests first. In many parts of the world, both hosts and guests sit together to enjoy a meal, this is often not the case in that part of the world. They will first make sure that the guests have been properly fed and only then they eat.

(5) If you are from a western country like the UK, Germany or the USA, or from an Asian country like Japan or South Korea, you know how important it is to be on time (and often early), when you are invited to a party or dinner invitation. But it is not the same when it comes to attending a dinner invitation in Venezuela. It is actually a norm and tradition for Venezuelans to arrive about 10 to 15 minutes late when they are invited to a dinner party. If you are early, it may give a negative message that you are greedy or too eager. If you are ever in Venezuela and stuck in bad traffic and then find that you are 15 minutes late to attend a dinner party, you don’t have to apologize as it is perfectly normal and acceptable.

(6) Japanese love to bow to greet others. It is in their tradition, and the depth of the bow depends on the age and social status of the person you are bowing to.

(7) Consider yourself attending a birthday party at a colleague’s house where you barely know people. You will perhaps be introduced to a few people in the room, and you will shake their hands or greet them. Then you will mind your own business. But if you are in Germany, you will perhaps shake the hands of all of them, even the children. It is a tradition to greet everyone present in a room in Germany.

(8) Have you ever been reminded by your parents not to slurp while eating your food? Perhaps you are not from Japan. While noisily consuming food is considered rude and a bad table etiquette in most western parts of the world, it is quite a norm and tradition in Japan (and China) to make a slurping sound while consuming noodles. Making a slurping sound while eating your noodles in Japan (and China as well) indicates that the food is tasty and you are enjoying your noodles.

(9) Tipping to food servers and shop assistants is in the blood of many people, especially those who have been raised in the USA. They consider tipping as a way to show gratitude for the good service they have been offered. But this is not the case in South Korea. In this country, including many other countries with the same custom or tradition, tipping is not recommended and is sometimes even a bad gesture. In some parts of South Korea, attempting to tip is often insulting!

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