Our cultures are what make us unique and those differences should always be cherished and admired from country to country. The best part, in my opinion, is learning as much as you can about the different traditions and customs of other cultures and appreciating the variety we have in this world. This also makes you more appreciative of your own traditions, so, I wanted to dedicate this post to some of the more interesting British traditions that other countries might not know about. If you are ever in an opportunity to see some of these events in person, it would be a shame to miss them. 

Tar-Barrel Racing

This first one might seem a bit dangerous at first, but trust me, all of the participants have protective gear. This is one of the Bonfire Night celebrations in Ottery St Mary. First, in the evening, younger boys carry small barrels. Then, later at night, 17 huge barrels are lit on fire and men gather to carry them and in a way, ‘wrestle’ with them. These barrels all weigh 30kg, so it is definitely not an easy task lifting one and then carrying it and throwing it to another person. Not to mention the fire. The crowd gathers to watch and cheer for the men. 

Rud-gr, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bog Snorkelling

This one is simply fun to watch, but the competitors take it pretty seriously. They have to snorkel 110m wearing, obviously, a snorkel and flippers and they cannot use normal swimming strokes. Oh, and they do all of this through a bog. This actually is now a world championship and several other countries besides England practice it. If you ever come to watch this race, prepare to enjoy the life out of it, and if you ever think about entering the competition just know that it isn’t as easy as it looks. I wouldn’t dare try it to be completely honest. 

Horn Dance 

If you’ve ever watched a live performance of a Shakespeare’s play and liked it, this is an event for you. It starts quite early in the morning (8 am) and it lasts for quite a while. As the name suggests, it is a dance – there are 12 dancers and many musicians around them. They begin at St Nicholas’s Church and then they move around Abbots Bromley visiting different places. What’s really interesting about this event and what brings it that extra sense of tradition is that all of the dancers come from two local families, and that has been the case for centuries now. 

Swan Upping 

This one is fun to watch but it is also quite practical and nice. The river Thames has a lot of swans, so every July, they are ‘upped’ (picked up) and marked as the property of the reigning monarch. There are designated swan uppers – people who have been trained on how to deal with swans and how to properly approach them, and they basically pick all of the swans they see in the river. When I said that the tradition is also practical I meant that this is a way to count all of the swans and check their health, but in a way that is also fun for everybody. 

By Sam