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Customs and Traditions in England

Yorkshire Pudding

To start the day with an English Breakfast, expect anything from bacon and eggs to several courses including fruit juice, cereal or grapefruit for starters, followed by bacon, eggs, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, hash browns (shredded pan-fried potatoes), beans and black pudding and then toast and marmalade.

Main meal of the day would traditionally have been with a ‘˜meat and two veg’ emphasis. Popular ‘˜traditional’ meals continue to be: gammon steak with egg or pineapple, steak and chips, mixed grills, sausage and mash, cottage pie (mince and vegetables topped with mashed potato), Toad-in-the-Hole (sausage inside a Yorkshire Pudding) and Cumberland sausage. Fish and chips is a traditional British meal which at one time was served wrapped in old newspapers but this is no longer acceptable as hygienic. Many still enjoy the traditional Sunday lunch (meat, Yorkshire pudding and vegetables.)

Afternoon tea is not as common as it used to be but ‘˜scones with jam and cream’ are still offered in restaurants and it is usual at summer fetes and village shows, to have an area offering cakes, scones and tea. Many places in Britain have an annual village show which will include a show of livestock, competitions for young and old, a selection of local produce and crafts, dog shows and trade stands.

Many in Britain are proud of the Royal Family and the Queen’s home, Buckingham Palace is a big tourist attraction. Royal weddings such as the recent wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton attract worldwide excitement. Such celebrations are a wonderful opportunity for Brits to unit in community/neighbourhood celebrations and street parties. Queen Elizabeth II is the official head of the state although the government, led by the Prime Minister, runs the country.

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The national costume of Scotland is the kilt and the national costume of Wales is a long skirt, black hat, red or blue cloak and shawl but England does not have a national costume.

Dating is up to the individual and depending on family circumstances, a couple will usually wait until they feel comfortable together before introducing each other to their families. Traditionally men would make the first move but nowadays it isn’t uncommon for a woman to initiate romance.

Age of sexual consent for a woman is 16 and the youngest age for marriage is 16 with parental consent. Due to recent laws, there is more choice in wedding venues. As well as Register Offices, Churches and Synagogues, any premises approved by the local authority can be used for the marriage ceremony.

Couples often live together first and marry later; some will choose not to marry at all and it is acceptable to have children outside marriage. Just thirty years ago it was very different and less customary for a couple to move in together without a wedding ring. Single pregnant mothers were frowned upon while (mercifully) this isn’t anything to be ashamed of now. It wasn’t uncommon in the mid-twentieth century for single mothers to be sent to a refuge for single woman and to be pressured into giving her baby away. This is an example of how attitudes have changed for the better as such actions now would be considered atrocious. It was also traditional for a man to ask the permission of his future bride’s father before proposing marriage.

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On the day of the wedding it is thought to be unlucky for the groom to see the wedding dress. Any outfit is acceptable; traditionally the bride will wear white and the groom, top hat and tails. The bride is often accompanied by bridesmaids and pageboys. After their vows, rings are exchanged and the register is signed before bride, groom and guests move on to the venue of their wedding reception.

It is not only customary but a legal requirement to drive on the left hand side of the road throughout Great Britain. Minimum age for driving a car is 17.