UK Traditions: What You Need to Know Ab…
UK Traditions: What You Need to Know About British Culture
In the United Kingdom, a multicultural society is prevalent, located off the northwestern coast of mainland Europe, with a culture that blends England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
Over the years, this island nation has become increasingly cosmopolitan, becoming a destination of great diversity worldwide. It currently is home to over 600,000 international students.
Whether you plan to study in the UK or visit the region on business, this guide on UK traditions and culture will help you make the most of your visit.
British English differs greatly from American spelling, primarily due to the UK incorporating many French and German word spellings. British English is more formal than American English. Although English is the first language spoken by 98% of the population, several official languages are spoken in the United Kingdom.
Here are the languages spoken in the UK:
- Scottish. The Scots language is spoken by 1.5 million people in the UK and is the second most spoken language after English. Scots is mostly spoken in Scotland. Gaelic is also spoken in Scotland.
- Welsh. Aside from Scots, Welsh is also widely spoken in the UK, with around 600,000 speakers. Welsh is the official language of Wales.
- Polish. Polish is spoken by 1% of the UK population, with more than 500,000 speakers. Over the last decade, over half a million Polish people have migrated to the UK.
- Other languages. Other languages that are spoken less in the UK include Bengali, Punjabi, Urdu, each of these languages include around 500,000 speakers left in the UK.
In addition to tea and the British Royal family, there is more to know about British culture, customs, and traditions.
Here are some of the basic social norms you should know about British people:
- Drinking tea. There is no doubt that British people love their tea, and they usually admit that it is their favorite time of the day. You can find Brits drinking tea at any social gathering, whether at a birthday or coffee shop, the milk makes English Tea special. According to research, English people drink 36 billion cups of tea a year.
- Good manners. British people are known for saying sorry, thank you, and please. No matter who you are talking to, being polite is always appreciated.
- Going to the pub. Pubs and drinking are popular pastimes for Brits, and they cannot resist having a drink or two with friends or colleagues. When out with friends, you cannot leave without buying drinks for them.
- Sarcastic humor. If you're sensitive and easily offended, be prepared to be offended when you hang out with a Brit. Their sarcasm is of high quality, so foreigners and visitors usually need to check whether they're joking or not.
- Gracious losers. Brits tend to complain a lot, but they are good losers, meaning they choose to lose with dignity when it comes to everyday life behavior. Arguing when losing a competition or a game in the UK is considered rude and poor manners. Instead, they congratulate the winner and do not argue.
- Punctuality. When it comes to punctuality, Brits are very strict. You won't be late again if you're late once in the UK. The British consider being late disrespectful and rude, especially at private dinner parties or in someone's home. If you cannot arrive on time, let the host know in advance.
Christianity is the official religion of the UK, and all denominations are represented there, including Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, and Methodist churches. Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, and Buddhism make up the majority of other faiths. Over 85 million people from 165 countries follow the Anglican Church of England, the primary church of England, the largest constituent of the United Kingdom.
Many Muslims first immigrated to Britain more than 300 years ago when the East India Company hired them. The next major migration occurred following the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.
Here is a table that indicates the top religions in the UK based on the results of the 2011 Census:
|No religion stated||7.2%|
British cuisine is a set of cooking traditions and practices associated with the United Kingdom. Historically, British cuisine meant "unfussy dishes made from quality local ingredients, paired with simple sauces to enhance flavor rather than hide it.”
Here are some of the most famous British dishes:
- Fish and chips. In England, fish and chips is one of the most popular dishes, and it can be found almost everywhere. However, Brits recommend eating it at restaurants by the sea for the best taste.
- Beef Wellington. In the UK, the beef wellington dish is considered to be one of the most challenging dishes to cook. It is a beef fillet, and the most challenging thing is getting the medium rare of the beef just right.
- English breakfast. The English breakfast is a popular breakfast in the UK, especially on weekends, because it is considered the most important meal of the day. This popular breakfast dish consists of bacon, eggs, sausages, beans, toasted bread, and various vegetables, depending on your preferences.
- Yorkshire pudding. The Yorkshire pudding is usually served as a side dish and is prepared differently depending on the place and the customer's preference. It is not an actual pudding but is made from eggs, flour, milk, and fat.
- Shepherd’s pie. Shepherd's pie is attributed to a similar Scottish dish that uses lamb or mutton instead of beef. The mashed potato topping also resembles a sheep's wooly fleece.
The Western influence is very distinct among British people, especially in how they dress. British people love following fashion trends and fitting in with modern society’s latest clothing movements. However, Brits can still be very casual in their day-to-day lives, as they often wear jeans and t-shirts with trench coats.
Clothing for men and women in the UK began to modernize at the end of the 18th century. Tailcoats were still worn by men, but they were shortened, and gowns and corsets were worn by women, but with a more natural silhouette.
As materials and dyes arrived on boats from all corners of the British empire, London's clothing industry expanded, allowing for more freedom and bolder clothing designs in the post-Victorian era.
Some of the most historical building styles in the world can be found in British architecture, which is highly influenced by the 15th century. In the Victorian era, there were a number of British architectural styles, including Medieval and Renaissance. Tudor and mock Gothic building styles enjoyed revivals and were highly elaborate at the beginning. Towards the end of the period, approaches to architecture became simpler.
Royal, religious, traditional, and modern celebrations are held every year in the United Kingdom.
Here is a list of significant dates in the UK:
- New Year’s Day (1 January). New Year’s Day is a federal holiday in the UK. Schools and most businesses are closed on that day. It is generally a morning to clean up after the night's festivities, so some roads are still closed.
- Burn’s Night (25 January). The celebration of Burns Night takes place across the UK on January 25, commemorating the birth of Scottish poet Robert Burns, also known as Rabbie Burns.
- International Women’s Day (8 March). Women's Day is observed annually on March 8 all over the world. It is a day to commemorate women's social, political, economic, and cultural achievements.
- Coronation of King Charles III (8 May). The Coronation of the King is an additional bank holiday announced by the government.
- Spring Bank Holiday (29 May). People in the United Kingdom have a day off work or school on the spring bank holiday, also known as the late May bank holiday.
- Summer Bank Holiday (28 August). The summer bank holiday was first observed in 1871 under the Bank Holidays Act. It was originally intended to allow bank employees to attend cricket matches.
- Christmas Day (25 December). In the UK, Christmas is celebrated on 25 December. Most Brits spend time with family and friends exchanging gifts and sharing meals.
North Western Europe's lush geography has resulted in football and rugby developing as national past times in the UK, while other sports are slowly gaining traction.
Here are the top sports played in the UK:
In the U.K, football is the most popular game and follows a traditional league system that consists of over one hundred teams. The most popular league is the Premier League and includes 20 of the best teams in the country: Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal are the most popular of these teams.
As one of the oldest football governing bodies in the entire world, the Football Association governs football in the U.K. The FA Cup and Capital One Cup are the two most famous football championships in the U.K. Each of these tournaments is attended by 92 professional football clubs.
Cricket is the national sport of the United Kingdom and became popular in the 17th century. Today, 18 professional county teams are based in the U.K. each is named after a historic county.
These county clubs participate in the First Class County Championship each summer, which consists of two leagues of nice teams that play matches over four days each.
Rugby Union and Rugby League are two of the most popular team sports in the U.K. The two sports differ in how the ball is advanced as well as the number of players. Currently, the Rugby Football Union is the governing body for Rugby Union in the U.K. It promotes, runs, and organizes international matches for the England national team, as well as educates and trains players.
Welcoming more than 500,000 international students each year, the United Kingdom is a leading destination for international students. There are many things that make English higher education great, starting from its quality that distinguishes among countries in the world to its top-notch universities that provide students with numerous career opportunities for the future.
The application process to each university or each country takes students quite a bit of time. Especially to international students who most probably have a number of additional documents to prepare and submit. The application process becomes even harder if your study abroad destination is the United Kingdom. Universities in the UK are some of the most competitive, and that is why students should start preparing their applications as early as possible.