Although the UK is made up of just four small countries, the island has a rich and long history that has spawned plenty of idiosyncratic traditions. While many of our overseas cousins may laugh at our eccentricities, they’re ours so we might as well make the most of them. With that in mind, and with the help of UK LPG suppliers Flogas, here are 7 IDEAL quirky and curious UK traditions.
In 1971, Fenwick’s, an upmarket department store, decided to display an annual festive spectacle for North East shoppers. This display has become a hugely popular tradition. Nowadays, the windows which line Northumberland Street in Newcastle Upon Tyne are adored by people of all ages, and 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 last. While many people associate Geordies and Christmas time with night’s spent revelling in sub—zero temperatures (without a coat!), Fenwick’s fairytale window is perhaps an even more celebrated tradition of the toon.
Further north, since 1650 Orkney’s capital Kirkwall has seen ‘Ba’ play particular importance in the festive calendar. Described as more like a civil war than a game of football, on Christmas Eve and Hogmanay the town is divided into two teams, the ‘Uppies’ and ‘Doonies’. In the past the two squads were decided thanks to where they were born in relation to the towns Cathedral.
Here’s how the game goes; a leather ball stuffed with cork is played through the town’s alleyways and back streets while opposing sides compete to get 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, but apart from that, the game is effectively without rules. It relies, more simply, on honour. And we could all do with a bit of that in modern times, hey?
Staying in Scotland, Haggis itself is specific to Caledonia. However, eating the sheep’s pluck delicacy is quite a commonly known tradition, with the 25th January Burns Night celebrations centering around a feast of haggis, neaps, and tatties.
However, a lesser known tradition in Scotland is the annual ‘Haggis Hurling’ event. Originating 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 as a cushion to soften the blow of the meat and prevent it from landing on the ground.
Fast forward to the present day and ‘Haggis Hurling’ has established itself as a competitive sport where judges score the competition depending on how far the delicacy has travelled and whether it can still be eaten afterwards. Extra points are not awarded, however, for those wearing no underwear under their kilt.
THE WELSH LOVESPOON
Gift a bunch of flowers, buy a box of chocolates, or even send a GIF on messenger….all accepted ways to display affection, for sure. In Wales, however, if you’re trying to win the heart of someone, a spoon is often used as a present. Okay, so it isn’t just your standard teaspoon, but it is a spoon nonetheless; it usually features a symbol which translates into a meaning, such as an anchor for safety or dragon for protection. This tradition is alive and well today, and such spoons are available in many of the country’s gift shops. Why not give it a try next time you fall in love?
In a country steeped in agricultural history, it shouldn’t be a 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, is a fine, immersive display of a certain side of Northern Irish culture.
THE PADSTOW OBBY OSS
May Day in Cornwall is celebrated in a rather different fashion to the rest of the UK. The Obby Oss Festival traces back further than the 1820’s, with historians believing it holds links to the Celtic festival of Beltane. The small Cornish town transforms into a feast of festive frolics and colour as 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. After that, a right good knees up begins.
PETER PAN CUP
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 Peter Pan Cup pits swimmers against one another in a 100-yard race in what are often near freezing cold waters. The event occurs on Christmas Day in Hyde Park and has been going since 1904, when its inaugural race saw James Matthew Barrie donate the Peter Pan Cup to competitors of the Christmas day swim through Hyde Park following the debut of his play on the London stage. That’s more than 100 years of history right there. Wow.