The United Kingdom: A place synonymous with traditions By debanjoli nandi

United Kingdom, an island nation located in the north-western part of Europe comprises Scotland, Wales, England and North Ireland. The country, basically a constitutional monarchy, has a parliamentary system of government. With capital city London, the fifth largest economy of the world has a total population of 64.1 million.

Though United Kingdom is primarily known as the birthplace of legendary authors like William Wordsworth, Beatles, Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens and William Wordsworth, it is also the place from where thousands of cultures and traditions have emanated. Here are some of the traditions that the people of UK have been following over the years.

Sunday Roast (Picture Courtesy:

1. Sunday Roast: Sunday roast, also known as Sunday dinner/lunch/joint is a meal served on every Sunday. Roast parsnips, Brussels sprouts, peas, carrots, runner beans and broccoli are among the few vegetables which form a part of the traditional British meal.

Historians differ on the origin of this long-observed tradition. According to some, the tradition dates back to the medieval times when the winners of a competition ( the village serfs after church on every Sunday morning used to show their battle tricks) were rewarded with roasted oxen.

Guy Fawkes Night ( Picture courtesy:

2. Guy Fawkes Night : Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated on the 5th of November every year. This tradition dates back to the Gunpowder plot of 1605- a failed conspiracy of Guy Fawks and a group of provincial English Catholics to blow up the upper house of the UK Parliamnet. They had planned to assassinate the Protestant King James I of England, thereby replacing him with Catholic head of state.

However, the king had survived the assassination attempt as the mastermind (Guy Fawks) had been caught at the critical moment. Thereafter the residents of the country had lit bonfires to commemorate the event. Later a law was enforced to mark the day as a red letter day. (Observance of 5th November Act).The day is still celebrated through burning of an effigy and fireworks display.

Remembrance Day ( Picture Courtesy:

3. Remembrance Day: Remembrance Day is observed on the 11th of November, every year to pay tribute to the members of the armed forces who sacrificed their lives in the 1st World War. King George V ,who used to host a banquet in honour of the President of the French Republic, first observed the day. The tradition has been followed every year since then. In the UK, Royal British Legion holds all the wreath-laying ceremonies at war memorials at 11a.m. Two minutes of silence are observed to pay homage to the martyrs and the beginning and the end of those two minutes of silence are marked by the firing of an artillery piece.

The Lymm Duck Race 9 Picture Courtesy:

4. The Lymm Duck Race: As per the British traditions, the Lymm Duck Race is held on the Easter Monday every year. Thousands of people launch yellow racing rubber ducks into Lymm Dingle. The three people, whose ducks cross the finish line, are awarded cash prizes of upto 100 British pounds.

Morris Dance ( Picture Courtesy:

5. Morris dancing:The United Kingdom and the tradition of Morris dancing are almost synonymous with each other. Morris Dancing dates back to the 15th century. By the end of 16th century, it had become one of the performances for the lower classes and by the mid of the 17thcentury, the working peasantry had started taking part in it at Whitsun.

Keeping the trdition alive was not smooth sailing at all. The Puritan government prohibited Morris dance but later the tradition was revived during the tenure of Charles II. Some English folklorists put heart and soul into restoring this tradition in the 20th century. Morris dancers are a group of men and women, who dressed in passe clothes,in a rhythmic manner dance to traditional music, which is generally played on a fiddle.

Drums, melodions and accordions are used for the purpose. Six main styles of Morris dance include Cotswold Morris, North West Morris, Border Morris, Longsword dancing, Rapper, Molly dancing and Ploughshots. Morris dance is mainly characterised by a group of people wearing bell pads on their shins. These people hold either sticks or handkerchiefs and have bells jingling on their legs.Some say Morris Dance has its roots in Boxing Day.Some say Morris Dance has its roots in Boxing Day.

Halloween ( Picture Courtesy:

6. Halloween: Halloween is a tradition followed to remember the dead. This is celebrated on October 31 every year. Halloween, also known as Allhallowe’en, is observed by lighting bonfires, carving pumpkins , watching horror films, visiting haunted places etc. People also keep candles on windowsills to keep off evil spirits. Not only children but also people dress up as ghosts and play pranks. “Trick or treat” is a popular form of celebrating Halloween.

Children, dress up as ghosts and bang on their neighbours’doors. Hoping for chocolates, they shout “trick or treat”. Pagan festival of Samhain is, sometimes, regarded as the origin of the concept of Halloween.

Cheese rolling festival 9 Picture Courtesy:

7. Cheese Rolling: This centuries-old tradition is characterized by the rolling of a 9lb Double Gloucester down the hill. Cheese Rolling is held at Cooper’s Hill every year on the Spring Bank Holiday. Competitors while running after the ball sometimes fall over one another, thereby sustaining injuries

World Stone Skimming Championship ( Picture Courtesy:

8. The World Stone Skimming Championship: Stone skimming,which is observed in Scotland, dates back to 1983. The rules of the game demand a flat stone be thrown at a water body in such a manner that it keeps on rebounding from the surface of the water body. The participant, whose stone does so for the maximum number of times, is given a prize.

Easter Egg Hunt ( Picture Courtesy:

9. Easter Egg Hunts: Accoring to tradition,parents make children find chocolates hidden either in the garden or somewhere in the house itself. This tradition dates back to the 17th century.

Fish and chips on Friday ( Picture Courtesy:

10. Eating Fish and Chips on Fridays: In keeping with tradition, people in the United Kingdom abstain from having meat on Fridays. Fried battered fish and hot chips constitute their meal on this particular day of the week. The tradition dates back to the 19th century when rapid increase of trawl fishing in the North Sea and development of railways ,which helped transport fish from major industrial areas to heavily populated regions , facilitated consumption of fish and chips among the working class people.

The white weddings ( Picture Courtesy:

11. White Weddings: Queen Victoria was the first one who wore a white dress at her wedding. and since then, every English girl has followed in her footsteps.

Men wearing Bowler Hats ( Picture Courtesy:

12. Wearing Bowler Hats: The origin of bowler hats is traced back to 1849. In both Scotland and Northern Ireland, the members of the Loyalist fraternities such as the Orange Order, the Independent Loyal Orange Institution, the Royal Black Perceptory and the Apprentice Boys of Derry still follow the tradition of wearing a bowler at parades and celebrations. This practice was mainly found among the working classes (especially businessmen) in the 19th century.

Pankcake flipping on shrove Tuesday ( Picture Courtesy: The Guardian)

13. Shrove Tuesday: According to traditions, people gorge on pancakes on this particular day before they start observing fast on Ash Wednesday.

World nettle eating championship ( Picture Courtesy:

14. World Nettle Eating Championship: World Nettle Eating Championship is held every October in Marsham, Dorset. According to traditions, one taking part in the competition has to eat as many 2ft. long nettles as one can in one hour.

This tradition dates back to the 80s. A farmer promised to eat the 15ft. nettle he brought if anyone could bring a nettle longer than his.

World Conker Championship ( Picture Courtesy:

15. World Conker Championship: World Conker Championships is also held in October. It is in Ashton, Northamptonshire. As per the rules of the game, the particiant has to smash his/her opponent’s nuts. Nearly 400 players from across the world( which includes countries such as Autralia, Austria, Canada, France, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, the United States and the United Kingdom) take part in the game every year. The game was first started in 1965 by a group of fishermen. They chose to hold a conker competition as the weather condition was not favourable for fishing.

May Day ( Picture Courtesy:

16. May Day: May Day is celebrated on May 1. According to the 500-old tradition, people on this particular day get up early to listen to the Eucharist . The Eucharist is sung by a choir at Magdalen College, Oxford. Over and above that, dancing around a maypole , crowing a May Queen and Morris dancing are among the other features of the tradition.This tradition is said to have its roots in Pagan Anglo-Saxon Customs.

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