The four countries of the United Kingdom are awash with different UK traditions. From Brummies to Bristolians, from Geordies to Glaswegians – with 69 cities across the four nations it’s no surprise that traditions tend to vary, but some are slightly more outlandish than others.
This article explores some of the quirkiest traditions that exist within Great Britain and Northern Ireland, delving into how long they’ve existed, and examining the backstory behind their origins.
Heading north to Orkney, we arrive in the island’s capital, Kirkwall, where, since 1650, ‘Ba’, has played particular importance in the festive calendar. Described as more like a civil war than a game of football, the town, on Christmas Eve and Hogmanay, is divided into two teams, the ‘Uppies’ and ‘Doonies’. The two squads, in the past, placed in their respective teams, thanks to where they were born in relation to the town’s Cathedral.
The leather ball, stuffed with cork, navigates the town, through alleyways and back streets, as opposing sides compete to land it in the net. There are referees who control the general flow of the game and ensure anyone who lands on the ground is picked up again, however the game is effective without rules. There also exists a boy’s game and despite the fact the upper age limit is 15 years old, there is no restriction on how young the boy can be. If you choose to make the trip up to the tip of Scotland, this age-old tradition is certainly worth your time —watch on as whole town battles it out, or look into joining the ‘Uppies’ or ‘Doonies’ yourself.
Haggis itself is specific to Caledonia, however, eating the sheep’s pluck delicacy is quite a commonly known tradition. Each year on the 25th January, or Burns Night as it is more commonly known, Scots tuck into haggis, neaps, and tatties as part of their celebration supper. However, a lesser-known tradition about the nation is their annual participation in ‘Haggis Hurling’. The tale suggests that in the 17th century when men were working in the fields during the day, their wives would cook them a haggis for their lunch and throw it across the river. The man would then use the front of his kilt, which is synonymous for not encasing underwear below, as a cushion to soften the blow of the meat and to prevent it from landing on the ground.
Nowadays, ‘Haggis Hurling’ has established itself as a professional sport, in which judges award scores depending on the distance traveled by the delicacy and whether it can still be eaten afterward.
The Welsh Lovespoon
A bunch of flowers, a box of chocolates, or nowadays maybe a gif sent on messenger, are all deemed an appropriate show of affection. In Wales, however, if you’re trying to win the heart of the apple of your eye, a spoon, despite the fact it may seem unconventional, ranks higher than a teddy bear holding a love heart. Okay, so it isn’t just your standard teaspoon, but it is a spoon nonetheless. The piece of cutlery will usually feature a symbol, which translates into a meaning, such as an anchor for safety and dragon for protection.
Available in most gift shops throughout the country, if you’re on holiday in Wales, pick up a spoon, take it home to your love interest and you might just find yourself in the good books for a considerably long time.
Beginning in 1971, Fenwicks, an upmarket department store, has put on an annual festive spectacle for shoppers with their extravagant window displays. The windows which line Northumberland Street in Newcastle Upon Tyne are adored by people of all ages, and the crowds arrive hours ahead of the big reveal day. In the past inspiration has been taken from children’s books such as Beatrix Potter and Peter Pan, and each and every year proves to be more outstanding than the previous year. While many people associate Geordies and Christmas time with night’s spent reveling in sub-zero temperatures (without a coat!), fairytale window claims the top spot in the North-East as a tradition.
A country steeped in agricultural history, it should come as no surprise that one of Northern Ireland’s largest annual events is an agri-food show. Starting in 1894, the Balmoral Show has, in recent years, relocated to the site of the Old Maze Prison camp. With more than 115,000 annual visitors, the show includes showjumping competitions, sheep shearing time trials, and a best in show category for livestock and equine. The three-day festival, which offers something for everyone, epitomizes Northern Irish culture.
The Padstow Obby Oss
In Cornwall, May Day is celebrated in a slightly different fashion to the rest of the UK. The Obby Oss, as it is affectionately known, traces back further than the 1820s, with historians believing it holds links to the Celtic festival of Beltane. The carnival in Rio De Janeiro would face stiff competition from the small Cornish town, where locals spend the evening of the 30th April decorating the streets with flags and flowers, before two “osses”, one blue and one red, make their way through the streets, cheered on by onlookers joining in with the celebrations.
Peter Pan Cup
In 1904, when his play debuted on the London stage, James Matthew Barrie donated the Peter Pan Cup to competitors of the Christmas day swim through Hyde Park. Open only to the experienced members of the Serpentine Swimming Club who have qualified throughout the season to guarantee a place in the event, the competition pits swimmers against one another in a 100-yard race in what can often be four degrees water.
Article supplied by UK energy supplier Flogas, who supply LPG and LPG bulk tanks to businesses and homes across Britain.
Each culture and religion around the globe have their uniqueness which makes it one of a kind. Some of these cultures have extremely weird and horrifying traditions that will make your jaw drop. So Let’s Take A look at 10 weird and horrifying traditions that still exist in the world!