5 British Traditions that Really Don’t Make Sense

Queueing, always saying “sorry”, going to the pub and a full English breakfast.  These are some of the British traditions I’m sure you’ve already heard of and possibly experienced first-hand.  There are, however, some other practices that might appear very odd indeed. 

Have a read of my top 5 and see what you think.

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Gurning means distorting your facial muscles to make a funny face.  Competitions are held in some English villages and contestants have to frame their gurn in a horse collar (as in the picture). Apparently, people with no teeth tend to be particularly good at gurning since they have more space to distort the jaw and lips.

Gurning Contest
Photo from Sportswave


The aim of the game is simple: a huge round of cheese is sent down a steep hill and people have to chase it.  Of course, people are injured every year as they quite literally throw themselves down the slope, and people are even known to have been injured from the cheese itself.  The first person across the finish line at the bottom of the hill wins the round.  I can think of easier ways to get my hands on some cheese.

People rolling on a hill
Photo from Telegraph

Bog Snorkelling

Competitors must complete 2 lengths of a section of peat bog in the shortest time possible.  However, they have to rely purely on their flippers to move through the murky water and cannot swim in the conventional way.  There is actually a World Bog Snorkelling Championship that takes place in Wales every August. 

Bog Snorkelling
Photo from Pilot Guides

Worm Charming

The International Festival of Worm Charming takes place in Devon every May.  Competitors are given a 3-metre squared plot of ground and have to ‘charm’ as many worms to the surface as possible.  The technique is to hit the soil so the vibrations attract the earthworms.  Just in case you’re wondering, all worms have to be returned to the ground at the end of the contest. 

Worm Charming
From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

Morris Dancing

This is a traditional English folk dance –  dating back over 500 years – that is performed by dancers wearing bells on their shins and carrying sticks, handkerchiefs or swords.  Accompanying musicians play traditional tunes while the dancers move rhythmically in formation. 

Morris Dancing
Photo from The Morris Ring

Would you ever try out one of these activities?  Do you have any unusual traditions in your country?



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