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The Customs Observed in the United Kingdom

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The traditional English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish customs can still be found today, throughout the United Kingdom. However, quite a few of them have had some minor twists or additions to them, mostly due to massive social, cultural and economic changes. For example, the colonisation of so many different areas has brought a vast influence on overall British culture, especially British cuisine. Read on to find out about some traditional customs, and others that are not so well known!

Monarchy: One of the most distinct custom of the United Kingdom is the monarchy as we know it in the modern world. Royalty being a significant part of British society, quite a few ceremonies surrounding it have been celebrated yearly for over 1000 years. Royal birthdays and weddings are often highly publicised events.

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National Anthem: Depending on the gender of the current reigning monarch, ‘God Save the Queen/King’ is the national or royal anthem of the UK. The first published version to what we now know as the tune first appeared in 1744. The lyrics used today is the oldest amongst those currently used in the UK, as well as a few Commonwealth realms, their territories, and the British Crown Dependencies.

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Guy Fawkes Night: Also known as Bonfire or Fireworks night, this is an annual commemoration celebrated every November 5th of the year. In 1605, a member of the Gunpowder Plot known as Guy Fawkes, was arrested while guarding incriminating explosives. People then lit bonfires around London to celebrate the fact that the then King, James I, survived.

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Haggis Hurling: Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s offal mixed with oatmeal and spices, all boiled in a bag made of the sheep’s stomach. A very popular tradition in Scotland, Haggis Hurling, instead of being eaten right away, is thrown as far as possible as part as raising funds in the Highland Games. The skin around it should also be intact after ‘hurling’ as it must be fit to eat after landing.

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Saint Patrick’s Day: Celebrated almost all over the world, St. Patrick’s Day is now a national holiday and used to also be a religious feast day in Ireland. Nowadays, the wearing of the Shamrock, whether it’s the actual live leaf or some other form of it, is what is mostly celebrated when it comes to St .Patrick’s; as well as over-indulging in cured meat, soda bread and Irish beer or ale!

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Afternoon Tea: Quintessentially English, afternoon tea is probably the favourite custom in England. It was introduced in 1840 by the Duchess of Bedford who always went hungry at around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, so decided to have a cup (or two) of tea with delicate finger food, such as sandwiches and scones, to keep her going until dinner time.

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The different aspects of a region and its traditions and social behaviours all contribute to culture and customs. The United Kingdom is known to have a very long list of very different traditions and customs due to its very multi-cultural population. If you want to find out more about the customs here, why not come experience them for yourself? Check out our English language courses while staying at your teacher’s home and pick your location!

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