British Stuff

‘British stuff’ is a catch-all for something that is particularly British.  What is behind Britain’s legends and traditions?  Why do we do the things we do at Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day – at any time, come to think of it? What anniversaries are being celebrated in Britain this year, including famous people’s birthdays?  Who was St George? St Andrew? St David? What are the recurring events on Britain’s calendar, including bank holidays?  The answers to these questions, and more, could be found in ‘British Stuff’.

The custom and origins of Christmas crackers

Christmas cracker, Christmas traditions

We take traditions for granted but, when you think about it, some of them are pretty weird.  Amongst the more bizarre British Christmas customs are Christmas crackers.  I refer, not to dry biscuits eaten with cheese and pâté, but to short tubes of cardboard covered with coloured paper, twisted at both ends, each typically containing …

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A bit about Christmas cards

Christmas card, peace on earth

It is always a good idea to get into a business that makes money on Christmas Day; and it could be argued that Christmas cards fall into that category.  You would think that sending cards, like letters, is a custom in decline.  Not according to the Greeting Card Association, who once told me that the …

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National Service of Remembrance

Poppy wreaths, Cenotaph

Amazing; moving; humbling; impressive: words you could choose to describe the annual National Service of Remembrance held in London on Remembrance Sunday, the second Sunday in November.  Thousands attend every year; thousands watch it on TV; thousands more attend similar, albeit slightly more modest, services throughout the United Kingdom – and beyond.  It is an …

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On Hallowe’en

Origins of Halloween

The local supermarket is pretending to be the props department for “Night of the Living Dead”.  There are plastic skulls, axes, hairy hands, spiders, broomsticks, masks more gruesome than many of the weekend shoppers in the Trafford Centre – and even life-size ravens with glowing red eyes.  Also, a plastic fish skeleton – the relevance …

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Anniversaries, 2016

James Herriot, Yorkshire Dales, Anniversaries, 2016

What have William the Conqueror, Shakespeare, Peter Rabbit, the Big Friendly Giant, Bobby Moore and David Cameron all got in common?  Answer: they were all associated with anniversaries in 2016.  Of course, some anniversaries were very kindly highlighted by publicists, who ultimately decide which momentous dates will be remembered in Britain. 950th anniversary of the …

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