British culture has long been a fascination of many. As decades pass, Great Britain continues to flourish as a place that balances long-held traditions with modern changes. Each year, millions of travelers to the British Isles indulge in the culture unique to this historic island culture. Furthermore, British culture has extended beyond the borders of Great Britain, creating devoted enthusiasts throughout the world.
British Traditions Image: David Jones (flickr)
History and tradition are inescapable throughout British culture. Each of the nations that make up Great Britain are proud of their long history and well-fought legacy. Perhaps the most popular display of British tradition is the Changing of the Guard ceremony in front of Buckingham Palace in London, England. This fascinating display of pomp happens almost every day and costs nothing to view, but those interested are encouraged to check schedules beforehand and arrive early to get a good viewing spot.
Britain offers several annual traditions throughout the year. Every May, horses race at Royal Ascot, known as much for the outlandish hats of its guests as it is for the horse racing. Bonfire Night is celebrated every November 5, marking the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Scotland has been hosting Highland games every summer since the 14th century. The most popular are the Braemar Gathering in Aberdeen every September and the Cowal Highland Gathering in Dunoon every August.
Over the past decade, Great Britain has conquered its well-established reputation as a destination of bland and unappetizing cuisine. Gourmet restaurants can now be found throughout these islands, offering world-class international cuisine as well as a new spin on traditional British dishes. There are certain dishes offered in each British country every visitor should try.
England is known for excellent roast beef served with gravy and a puffy roll called Yorkshire Pudding. Fish and Chips can be found in nearly every English city and town, served as shops known as Chippies. The term Bangers and Mash refers to sausages served with mashed potatoes. A full English breakfast usually includes eggs, beans, black pudding, sausage, and a tomato. Cornish Pasties are pockets of bread filled with meat, onion, and various other types of food. Traditional dishes in Scotland include haggis, meat made up mostly of ground sheep heart, liver, and lungs. Haggis is often served with turnips and potatoes, referred to locally as neeps and tatties. When traveling in Wales, try Welsh Rarebit, the local name for Welsh Rabbit. Of course, no visit to any British country is complete without trying an Afternoon Tea. These midday indulgences often include a variety of sandwiches and pastries, including scones with fresh jam and clotted, or Devonshire, cream.
British Pop Culture
British Pop Culture
While each of the countries that make up Britain exhibits unique differences that set them apart from each other, there are several strong pop culture similarities among the people of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Perhaps the most unifying is a passion for sports. Rugby and association football, known in the USA as soccer, is a passion for many British people.
British culture has had a strong influence throughout the rest of the world as well, especially in the world of literature and the performing arts. British authors created famous characters such as Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, and Elizabeth Bennett. British theatre is responsible for Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, and Romeo and Juliet. British television, broadcast in many countries worldwide, includes phenomenons such as Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, and Sherlock. Britain also brought us many great musicians, including The Beatles, Coldplay, and Adele.
Top image: Yortw (flickr)