Unusual British Events And Traditions

Most of the counties of Britain have an ancient custom or traditional festival at some time during the year. Many of them have more than one event, and each of those is unique in its own way. Below are some of the more unusual British customs and traditions



To get familiar with the culture and pulse of a country, you should definitely look at its traditions and how people live up to them. This is especially important for foreigners and younger generations, as they can learn about the beliefs and values that have existed for centuries.

British people are not only known for their good manners, tea parties and politeness. They also pay great tribute and accentuate their traditions, some of them dating from the Middle Ages. Many of these pastimes and practices are pretty quirky and unusual. However, what they all have in common is the sense of closeness and community they foster among people. Here, we’ll look at some of the most unusual, treasured traditions and events happening in the UK.

Maypole Dancing

Even though it may look like a spontaneous event where people and children are jumping around a pole with coloured ribbons, this is a carefully choreographed ceremonial folk dance. This tradition celebrates May Day, which welcomes the season of spring.

Each year, the prettiest girl in the village is chosen to be the May Queen. All other youngsters in the town put on their best clothes and danced in circles accompanied by pipes, fiddles and accordions. They were winding their ribbons around the pole until fully wrapped around. Centuries ago, after the dance, people lit a fire and sacrificed the beautiful May Queen to the pagan gods. Luckily, today people only stick to music, dancing and fiesta time.

Cheese Rolling

If you’re planning to visit Gloucestershire, you’d want to experience this unusual event that attracts many participants and visitors each year. What’s the objective? Well, the aim is to be the first that crosses the finish line following a round double Gloucester cheese pie. Impressively, the cheese pie can develop a speed of up to 70 mph. The winner performs a shirtless sprint around Cooper’s Hill with the trophy in his hand. This act symbolises the circle of life and celebrates the creation of cheese.

Even though it sounds like a relatively innocent and harmless party time, many people suffered multiple injuries as a result of chasing the cheese down the hills. So, if you feel like a cheese-chaser, think twice before taking part, as this one isn’t all fun and games.

Wife Carrying

This practice takes us back to the Viking invasion of 793 AD, as the race evolved out of the Nordic’s rampage in which a monastery was demolished entirely. Back then, the local women have been carried off the villages against their will. In 2008, a group of people revived this tradition in the UK, introducing a whole new set of rules. Of course, the first one is that women must agree to participate in the event.

One of the rules is that females have to weigh at least 50kg. Those that lack the weight must make up for it in an equivalent amount of baked bean cans. Competitors must wear a helmet and complete the race against all odds, obstacles and occasional cold-water sensations.

What will you get if you win? Well, the prize is set at £100 and a barrel of Pilgrim ale for the winning couple. But that’s not all, as they’ll qualify for the World Wife Carrying Championship in Finland. The carrier of the heaviest woman will receive a pound of sausage, while losers will receive “comforting” cans of dog food. Charming, right?

These are only a few of the many unusual fun facts about British traditions and the anecdotes that define them. Have you read our post about the Welsh town that has the longest name in the World? Namely, a local tailor came up with an idea to “baptise” the town with a name that won’t be easy to pronounce, but it will definitely stay in your memory.

Read more about Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, or popularly called Llanfairpwll, as we’re sure you’d like the story about the town and the origins of the name.

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