There is, for example, the Marble Championship, where the British Champion is crowned; he wins a silver cup known among folk dancers as Morris Dancing. Morris Dancing is an event where people, worn in beautiful clothes with ribbons and bells, dance with handkerchiefs or big sticks in their hands, while traditional music- sounds. Great Britain is an island on the outer edge of the European continent, and its geographical situation has produced a certain insular spirit among its inhabitants, who tend to regard their own community as the center of the world.
The British look on foreigners in general with contempt and think that nothing is as well done elsewhere as in their own country. The British people have also been known as superior, aloof, hypocritical, unsociable and snobbish. Snobbery is not so common in England today as it was at the beginning of the 19th century. It still exists, and advertisers know how to use it in order to sell their goods. The advertisers are very clever in their use of snobbery. Motorcar manufactures, for example, advertise the colour of their cars as “Embassy Black” or “Balmoral Stone”.
Embassy black is plain, ordinary black, but the name suggests diplomats and all the social importance that surrounds them, and this is what the snobs need. Englishmen tend to be rather conservative, they love familiar things. They are hostile, or at least bored, when they hear any suggestion that some modification of their habits, or the introduction of something new and unknown into their lives, might be to their advantage. This conservatism, on a national scale, may be illustrated by reference to the public attitude to the monarchy, an institution which is held in affection and reverence by early all English people. The English sense and feeling for privacy is notorious. They rarely shake hands except when being introduced to someone for the first time. They hardly ever shake hands with their friends except seeing them after a long time or saying good-bye before a long journey. Some people say the English are always cold and reserved, this means that they don’t talk much to strangers, and don’t show much emotion. A reserved person never tells you anything about himself.
But the people of the North and West of Britain are much less reserved than those of the South and East. Most people in Britain work a five-day week, from Monday to Friday; schools, colleges and universities are also closed on Saturdays and Sundays. As Friday comes along, as people leave work they say to each other, “Have a nice week-end. ” Then on Monday morning they ask, “Did you have a nice week-end? ” On Sunday mid-mornings most British people do some outdoor activities such as gardening, washing the car, shelling peas or chopping mint for Sunday lunch, or taking the dog for a walk.
Another most popular pre-lunch activity consists of a visit to a “pub” – either a walk to the “local”, or often nowadays a drive to a more pleasant “country pub” if one lives in a built-up area. The national drink in England is beer, and the “pub”, where Englishmen go to drink to, is a peculiarly English institution. Much leisure time is spent in individualistic pursuits, of which the most popular is gardening. Most English people love gardens, their own above all, and this is probably one reason why so many people prefer to live in houses rather than flats.
The British people are the world’s greatest tea drinkers. They like to drink tea with milk. They have their five-o’clock tea not only at home or in offices, but also in tea-rooms and tea-shops, which can be found in every town. They drink a quarter of all the tea grown in the world each year. English people are famous for their habit of politeness. It is considered polite to give up one’s seat to a woman who is standing, to open a door for her, carry things for her, and so on. Most British people expect the person in front of them to hold the door open for them. People think you are rude, if you don’t do this.
Most British people queue when they are waiting for a bus or waiting to be served in a shop. But during the rush hour, when a bus or train arrives, people often push forward to make sure they get on. This is called jumping the queue. The proverb ‘Early to bed, early to rise’ seems a good description of the British lifestyle. On weekdays, most people get up before 8 a. m. (77%) and go to bed before midnight (81%). Main meal times are from 8 a. m. to 9 a. m. (breakfast), at 1 p. m. (lunch) and between 5 p. m. and 9 p. m. (dinner). And, of course, English people are fond of sports.
Many continentals think life is a game; the English think cricket is a game. To many Englishmen cricket is both a game and a standard of behaviour. When they consider something unfair, they say “That isn’t cricket”. And it should be added that the average portrait of Briton is not full without football. It is an inseparable part of their life. There’s at least one soccer fan of Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea or another team in every family. The reason is their competitive spirit. British people keep their old traditions and are very proud of them. They are famous for their sense of humour and they show great love for animals.
A nation is born from its land, its history, its art, its traditions and its institutions. These things work together to make people what they are. But above all, a nation is made up of people, and although there are things they all share, all of those people are different. We can say there is still a “British nation,” and one of the most characteristic features of Englishmen is their traditions, which they respect, and which they have kept for centuries. The traditions don’t only accumulate the experience and wisdom of many generations, but they bring some stability into the rapidly changing world.