Britain's weirdest traditions: What on earth were we thinking?


Is there anywhere that does weird better than Britain? Chasing a wheel of cheese down a steep hill, dancing with a handkerchief and swimming in a dirty bog are just a few of the wacky traditions in the UK.

Check out more bizarre British customs in our gallery...

10 PHOTOS
Weird British traditions
See Gallery
Britain's weirdest traditions: What on earth were we thinking?

Wales has its very own Valentine's Day called St Dwynwen's Day, which is celebrated across the country on 25 January and commemorates the patron saint of Welsh lovers. The story goes that Dwynwen fell in love with Maelon Dafodrill but her father had already arranged her marriage to someone else. Dwynwen fled to the woods and God granted her three wishes, one of them being that God meet the hopes of dreams of true lovers. St Dwynwen lies buried at the site of a Celtic cross at Llanddwyn Island, off the coast of Anglesey.

Pearly Kings and Queens, or Pearlies as they're known locally, are a symbol of working class culture in London. They wear elaborate clothing decorated with pearl buttons and are committed to raising money for charities. Pearlies were founded in the 19th century by Henry Croft, an orphan street sweeper, and today they carry on his charitable aims with the tradition running in the family - his great-granddaughter is the Pearly Queen of Somers Town.

From caber tossing to tug o war, Scotland's Highland games are a quirky must-see which take place around Scotland during the summer months and celebrate Scottish and Celtic culture. The traditional heavy athletics are accompanied by Highland dance competitions, piping and kilt-wearing, and competitors come from all around the world. The games are set against beautiful scenery with a unique atmosphere, colourful dance displays and local produce.

Guy Fawkes Night dates back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 when Catholic conspirator Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James I. The anniversary on 5 November is celebrated each year with fireworks and bonfires. Effigies of Guy Fawkes are burned on top of bonfires and people brave the cold to watch the colourful firework displays across the country.

The mucky World Bog Snorkelling Championships take place every August in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales and as you can gather from its name, this isn't the rosiest of festivals! Competitors are required to wear goggles, a snorkel and flippers, and must swim two lengths of a dug-out, 60-yard trench in a bog. We'd recommend keeping your mouth closed at this event!

Held on the anniversary of Scottish poet Robert Burns' birth on 25 January, Burns Night is celebrated with a Burns Supper which includes haggis, whisky, dancing and lots of laughter. The haggis is one of the most important features, with the delicacy having its own parade at the Supper before a knife is plunged into it and the eating begins. Speeches are made to honour Burns and the sounds of bagpipes accompany the evening.

Making funny faces isn't just for kids. At the World Gurning Championships in Cumbria, contestants are invited to put their heads through a horse collar and pull the most grotesque expression possible. The person who gets the most applause for their ugly mush is the winner!

Launched in 2011, the World Jampionships in East Perthshire, Scotland not only showcases the best jams, but is also as a way of spotlighting Scotland as a magnificent soft fruit growing area to the rest of the world. Open to all levels, the World Jampionships is all about the boiling, spreading and tasting of the sweet spread.

Cheese rolling is serious business. Every year, daredevils take to the top of Coppers Hill near Brockworth in Gloucestershire in an annual cheese rolling competition. Some years it gets really muddy, people get injured and most recently, one old lady was warned by the police not to provide cheese for the event!

If dancing around with a hankie is your thing, you'll love English folk Morris dancing, which is based on the rhythmic stepping of a group of dancers who carry sticks, swords and handkerchiefs. It's popular in villages around the Cotswolds and Welsh borders, although you'll find it in the north-west and remote parts of rural England. The dance is usually performed during May Day celebrations and usually near a pub.

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE


Related articles

Weird and wonderful days out in the UK

Weird and wacky festivals around the world

Weirdest tourist attractions in Britain
Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS