5 Of The Most Ridiculous British Traditions Ever!
Saturday April 12, 2014 by Alex Wood
We pick 5 of possibly the most ridiculous (or just plain weird) British traditions Ever!
So having just arrived in the UK, you're keen to fit in and feel like a local - and that's all perfectlyunderstandable. And equally, having heard of some of the idiosyncrasies that British people are capable of, you're keen to find out more. And of course, what better way to really understand the British psyche than to join in with some of our weird and wonderful traditions! Good shout!
So lets travel to lots of great locations together and have some fun along the way!
1.The Haxey Hood
The Haxey Hood is one of the oldest local traditions in England and dates back to the 14th century. It's (really) hard to explain but basically it's a large rugby-style game and it takes place in the village of Haxey in North Lincolnshire, England, each January. A scrum of people, called the "sway", pushes a leather tube called the "hood" into one of the four public houses in the parish. The game officially ends when the hood is touched by the final landlord standing on the steps of his pub and he gets to keep the hood and proudly display it until the following year. This madcap tradition is thought to have originated centuries ago when the wife of the local landowner lost her riding hood in the wind and local farm workers chased after it. A likely story!
2. Worm Charming
As with rugby and boxing, there are rival worm charming codes. As you would expect from such a high profile sport, but we won't go into the history of the splinter here, as we simply haven't the time. Suffice it to say that the International Festival of Worm Charming is at Blackawton, Devon, and the World Worm Charming Championships are in Nantwich, Cheshire. Either way, the aim is to persuade earthworms to leave the soil and the participants are tremendously good at it. Charmers are allowed to entice the creatures out of the ground through patting the soil and playing music - but of course, digging is frowned upon.
The Festival of Worm Charming - http://www.wormcharming.co.uk/
When: 4th May 2014
Where: Blackawton, Devon
Accommodation options: Exeter
3. Cheese rolling
Gloucestershire's famous Cheese Rolling tradition has attracted such numbers in the past (an estimated 15,000 in 2009) that it's now staged every year by an 'ad-hoc group of enthusiasts' and has been capped at a total of 5,000 attendees. The objective is simply to be the first competitor to cross the finishing line following a rolling round of Double Gloucester cheese (which can attain speeds of up to 70mph). The winner must then perform a shirtless sprint - trophy in hand - back up Cooper's Hill, in a cheese-centric, Circle of Life-type act of symbolism that celebrates the cheese's creation, release, and eventual re-capture.
A note of warning for any wannabe cheese-chasers: despite the seemingly harmless nature of the pastime, multiple injuries have historically been suffered as a result of chasing the cheeses down the hill, ranging from concussion to broken bones. Well, what would you expect - it is a Double Gloucester!
Cheese Rolling Festival - http://www.cheese-rolling.co.uk/index1.htm
When: 26th May 2014 (Spring bank holiday at the end of May)
Where: Cooper's Hill, near Brockworth, Gloucestershire
Accommodation options: Cheltenham
4. Wife Carrying
The annual Wife Carrying race - which takes place in The Nower, Dorking,(in which men carry their ‘wife' along a hilly 250m course), dates back to the Viking invasion of 793 AD. This particular one originated from Finland from where this superior form of racing evolved. Legend has it that events like this started when raiders needed to be swift on their pins to escape when stealing womenfolk from neighbouring villages. Sounds reasonable. It was only in 2008 that the tradition was revived in the UK - albeit with a whole new, 21st century set of rules (principally that women participate willingly).
The conditions of competing? Wives must weigh at least 50kg - and those lacking in weight must make up the kilos in the equivalent of baked bean cans - and must wear a helmet. Competitors must then attempt to complete the course which is beset by hay-bale hurdles and the occasional cold-water hazard, in order to win prizes. The top prize is £100 and a barrel of Pilgrim ale for the winning couple, who will go on to participate in the world championships in Finland; a pound of sausage for the carrier of the heaviest wife, and mini-kegs for the runners up. The losers can look forward to receiving a 'ceremonial' tin of dog food and a Pot Noodle.
And our favourite?
5. The World Gurning Championships
Quite simply, gurning involves pulling the ugliest face possible whilst sticking your head through a horse collar, known as ‘gurnin' through a braffin'. We know, we told you these were weird traditions! The competitions are held regularly in some villages, with
The World Gurning Championships forming part of the Egremont Crab Fair. The fair was established in 1267, which makes it one of the oldest fairs in the world, and its where you can also try your hand at other equally mad events such as Horse and Pony Leaping, Egg Throwing, Horn Blowing and Greasy Pole Climbing.
So what are you waiting for - get your game face on and give it a go!
The World Gurning Championships - www.egremontcrabfair.com
When: 20th September 2014
Where: Egremont, Cumbria
Accommodation options: We don't have any apartments very nearby unfortunately but the website has plenty of advice on local accommodation or head over to nearby Newcastle.
I know, I know, I've missed your favourite weird tradition - is it toe wrestling perhaps, or maybe shin kicking? Why not let me know by nominating your favorite on Facebook or Twitter (#PASholidays) and I'll put together all of the favorites throughout the year in a round up review post!
Follow me on twitter: @alexwpas
Tel: 020 7704 6514 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Alex Wood