A Traditional form of English folk dancing, the Morris dance is based on a rhythmic stepping and a choreographed group of dancers. Typically the dancers will wield sticks, swords, and handkerchiefs as part of their elaborate dance.
One of the particularly weird English traditions is Straw Bear Day. On the 7th of January every year residents in a small area of England called Fenland come out to watch a man or a boy dress head to toe in a straw costume. The figure goes from house to house to dance, and be rewarded with money, food or beer.
There are a surprising number of reasons you might want to summon worms. Bait for fishing, population for your compost, handy helpers for your gardens; so many reasons in fact that an annual worm charming World Championship has been organised. Every year in Willaston, Cheshire the competitors gather to charm works from the ground. Each competitor has a 3×3 area and is allowed to use any music to charm the worms, stimulants such as water are forbidden.
Have you ever felt like diving into a 120ft trench of mud with only a snorkel and a pair of flippers to protect you? No? Well, in Britain it is a tradition; although they do justify it by setting it up as a charity drive.
Personally, my favourite thing to do with cheese is eat it with crackers and wine, but for some the main appeal lies in how far you can roll it down a hill.The Cooper’s Hill cheese rolling is a renowned English tradition where twenty young men chase a rolling wheel of cheese down a hill. It is usually a fun time with many manly running and plenty of impressive injuries to show off at the pub afterwards.
A tradition reminiscent of France’s Feast of Fools that was popularised in Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame; Gurning is the odd tradition of competing to make the ugliest and most grotesque face you can manage. The competition takes place at the Egremont Crab Fair, an odd tradition in its own right, and the winners often get a spot on the news.
Maypole dancing involves performing circle dances around a tall decorated pole. Each dancer carries a ribbon as they spin, which is gradually wrapped around the pole. In the end the dancers must retrace their steps exactly to unravel the ribbons and complete the dance. It is mesmerising and beautiful to behold.
Guy Fawkes Night
Guy Fawkes Night, or Bonfire Night as it is commonly known, is held every year on the fifth of November. It is a remembrance of the attempted bombing of parliament house by Guy Fawkes, dubbed the ‘Gunpowder Plot’. The conspiracy is, appropriately enough, remembered with an incredible fireworks display. It may seem odd to celebrate an attempted terrorist attack with a big show of exuberance, but I think it works as an excellent snub to all who would try to quell the British spirit. It is a spectacular night out; well worth booking in to one of the hotels near Piccadilly in London and getting a good view of the incredible light show. An added bonus of being at The Piccadilly London West End is that you have an easy ride home after the inevitable after party, and won’t have to deal with the horrendous congestion after the firework display.