I have been thinking about British traditions and have found one for each month of the year. Here’s a list of events you may or may not have heard of. Some ancient, some new and some downright quirky events that will, or have continued, to take place in Britain this year.
What better place to start than January, the first month of the year. On the 6th of January the “whacky” tradition called The Haxey Hood takes place in the village of Haxey (North Lincolnshire).
This very traditional event can be traced back to the 14th century
It involves a rugby type scrum with a leather hood which is pushed, pulled or swayed towards one of four pubs. There can be as many as 200 people in the scrum from the four pubs and whichever pub wins, keeps the hood for a year.
Starting in February and lasting until March marks the Camellia Festival taking place at Chiswick House, Chiswick. There are many beautiful and rare blooms to see. This is surely a fabulous sight to behold. The collection, housed in the Conservatory, is believed to be the oldest collection under glass in the Western world. Many date back to 1828!
In March, a relatively new tradition seems to have gripped the locals in Dorking, namely the UK Wife Carrying Championships. On Sunday March 8th, around fifty couples took part
Please look at some pictures here. As the website states -:
'The winners were lofty Jonathon Schwochert and his rather more diminutive partner Charlotte Xiong, who fought off some tough challengers, some from as far afield as Sweden, to become UK Wife Carrying national champions. Wife carrying is believed to date back more than 12 centuries to medieval times when scores of Viking marauders pillaged the north-east coast of England!'
A couple from Hereford won last year and went on to take silver in the World Wife Carrying championships held in Finland!
Any Oapschatters fancy entering next year??!!
April and the 1st is well known in the UK as April Fools Day. This started to become popular in England and Scotland during the 1700's. But the prankster must play his joke before midday or he is deemed to be the fool! Some great snippets on this website of past year's pranks.
So we come to May. You may be surprised to hear that there are May Day processions in more than 80 countries including our very own resurging Maypole dancing. I have found a very interesting All about Maypole Dancing website that details many interesting facts including the following statement.
'Originally, the tradition was to decorate a pole with garlands of flowers and leaves. These were known as ribbon-less maypoles and dancers simply circled the maypole in time with the music which was often provided by pipe and tabor, fiddle and whatever other instruments could be found. Later, ribbons were attached to the top of the maypole and dancers wound in different directions around the maypole holding a ribbon each to create a complex pattern of colours. After the ribbons have been wound onto the pole or perhaps plaited on themselves, the practice was to reverse the path of the dance to unwind the ribbons again. A typical maypole can have 10 or often many more dancers.'
Want to throw some eggs??
June brings another unique tradition, namely the Egg Throwing Championships in Swaton (Lincolnshire) This was held on 28th June in 2015. One way to use up old eggs I suppose! Let’s hope the contestants showered when they got home!
July is a popular month for traditions. One is the Oyster Festival in Whistable which starts on 25th July. This looks great if the weather is kind, as the page says it is about holidaying the way our grandparents used to.
August brings with it a lot of festivals, one of the biggest being the Green Man Festival in Mid Wales. This started from a humble one day festival to a week long event that attracts over 15000 people! Brecon is a lovely area and I am sure many people wil enjoy this event. As the website says 'IN THE BREATHTAKING BEAUTY OF THE BRECON BEACONS, WHERE MYSTICAL LEY LINES CONVERGE AMID ANCIENT WELSH OAK TREES, SOMETHING MAGICAL IS STIRRING... ' I may well take a look myself! It is just over forty miles to get to from Hereford.
Black Pudding tart and salad
September it seems is a month for another British eccentric event, The World Black Pudding Throwing Championships held in Ramsbottom! This very old tradition was revamped in the 1980s. This year the date of the championships is September 13th. Taken from Calender Customs is the following statement. 'In this annual competition the ancient grudge between Yorkshire and Lancashire is played out again – this time by hurling Black Puddings at a pile of Yorkshire Puddings on a 20-foot high plinth. Competitors have three turns in an attempt to knock down as many Yorkshire Puddings as possible (they are arranged in a pile of a dozen) and must throw underarm from a purpose built stand called the oche.'
By Will robson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
October brings The Nottingham Goose Fair. Nottingham City Council states, 'With more than 700 years of history, Nottingham Goose Fair is one of Europe's most famous travelling fairs, and is still a fantastic event that delights all ages.' The fair actually starts on September 3oth this year and ends on October 4th.
In November the week beginning 6th through to 10th is the 27th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. As Tom Paulin says “This is the best poetry festival – indeed literary festival – that I have ever been at.” We have a lot of poetry on the website, so some of you may wish to visit.
Dawn on December 21st
And finally to December when the 21st marks the Winter Solstice and in The Orkneys, our hardy Orkney cousins only have six hours of very poor daylight. The 21st is known as The Yule- The Midwinter Festival. This very old event marks the return of the light and the days begin to lengthen again. Lots of information on The White Goddess website.
So in 2015 do not fear that the historical and often eccentric traditions of the British Isles may be declining. It appears new ones will rise to take place and keep up what makes the inhabitants of Britain and all our oddities great!