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British culture, customs and traditions vary from the weird to the wonderful, from the traditional to the popular, and from the simple to the grand.

The formation of the ideas, celebrations and notions that comprise today’s quintessential British lifestyle started centuries ago, giving importance and meaning to the people’s existence. These customs and traditions stood the test of time, albeit not without some changes to accommodate the modernizing world.

Despite the inevitable transformation in British values and norms, the roots can still be easily traced back to the earlier English civilization; it was a big help that the nation’s history is widely and proficiently recorded.

British Culture: List of the Great Traditions and Celebrations in the UK

Knowing and understanding one country’s customs and traditions allows us to have a deeper understanding as to why people live such lives, say such things or do such actions. Read on and realize that there is more to Britain than plaid kilts, The Beatles and fish and chips.

You can also read on a sample UK itinerary guide for 2 weeks or the British Isles cruise that I wrote to see and explore the UK.

Here’s the list of some of the greatest British culture, traditions and celebrations in the UK 

1. Cheese Rolling 

Cheese rolling is an unusual British tradition that involves a ball of Double Gloucester cheese and a crowd that is willing to chase it for fun.

It takes place on Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire, England (Show on Map), with a slope so steep the participants have no choice but to stumble their way down to the finish line where, hopefully, the cheese awaits.

Cheese Rolling

Dave Farrance [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

The cheese rolling event takes place every Spring Bank Holiday Monday of the year. Local participants and visitors from all over the world gather at 12 in the afternoon to participate in or witness this sport which dates back to the 15th century when people are assumed to do similar activities as harvest rituals, among other theories.

Extra, extra:
This British tradition is so dangerous that in 1997, a total of 33 competitors were injured.

2. Morris Dancing

Morris dancing is both art and history in motion. It usually involves dancing with sticks, handkerchiefs or swords in a style that is depicted mainly by location. Some styles include Cotswold from the South Midlands and Longsword in Yorkshire.

Morris Dancers

This type of dance is typically performed on specific occasions and seasons such as early summer for Oxfordshire and during Christmas and New Year for Yorkshire. However, morris dancing can still be performed in other instances.

3. Pub Culture

The term pub is a short term for “public house.” True to its word origin, a British pub is a place in the neighbourhood where people gather for drinks and discussions after the daily grind.

English Pub

The culture prevalent in British pubs is observed to be different from American bars. A member’s only social club is also very common in British towns and villages.

Extra, extra:
Here are some of the unwritten laws in a British pub:

  • Order from the bar and not from your table. The pubs do not usually have table service.
  • When seated with a group, one should get the order of everybody so as not to crowd the bar.
  • When ordering beer, be specific: ale (dark beer), lager (light beer), bitter (light ale) or stout (very dark beer)
  • Most pubs only take cash for payment. Be ready as you order, but it is frowned upon to wave your bill to call the bartender’s attention.
  • To give tip to your server, offer him or her a drink. It will be added to your tab. If a tip jar is existent, monetary tips are welcome as well.
  • If someone buys you or your table a round, it is customary for the next round to be on you.
  • One bell from the bar means last order. Two means the bar is closed.

4. Afternoon Tea

Probably one of the quintessentially British things to partake, afternoon tea has become a socially-acceptable and rather a delightful excuse to meet people for ‘some grub’ from 2 until 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

Afternoon tea

The common afternoon tea comprises of select teas, traditional scones, simple sandwiches and petite cakes. Complementing the pastries is clotted cream and fruit jams, amongst others.

The birth of the afternoon tea happened in the year 1840 when Anna Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, would request for snacks in between lunch and dinner. It became a repeated occurrence, and she began inviting friends over to relish the treats with her.

Now, afternoon tea is served regularly around the globe, mostly as special offers in fancy hotels and English restaurants.

Extra, extra:
For £550 per couple, the Cliveden House in Berkshire easily bags the title of one of the priciest afternoon teas to be offered in England. It included expensive teas, exclusive chocolates and fancy ingredients.

You can also book your afternoon tea: Afternoon Tea at The Rubens at the Palace Hotel in London

5. Queuing 

The next time you see yourself impatiently falling in line to get tickets to a film showing, t