United Kingdom, also known as UK, is an industrialized country and a leading trading and financial center of the world. It is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in Europe. It is blessed not only with a treasure of spectacular landscapes, including serene lakes and beautiful beaches, but also boasts of many castles, mansions, and cathedrals. It has a number of other tourist attractions, such as art galleries, royal palaces, national parks, and museums; all of which add to the fascination that prompt people from all over the world to visit, every year. But, these are not the only attractions for the tourists. Many people visit United Kingdom to experience its interesting and distinctive culture.
United Kingdom is made up of four, viz., England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. England, Wales, and Scotland together form the Great Britain. The culture of UK reflects the varied, but distinctive, influence of different customs and traditions of these four countries.
UK has no official language as such, however, about 90% of its citizens communicate in English. Hence, English is considered as the official language. Individual countries in the United Kingdom prefer their indigenous languages; so Welsh, Cornish, and Scottish Gaelic are also commonly spoken.
Majority of people in the United Kingdom follow Christianity, most of whom are Protestant Christians. While in the UK, you will come across a number of world-famous churches and cathedrals. Other communities in the UK are Roman Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists.
British cuisine encompasses the cooking traditions of the British Isles. It reflects the cultural influence of the colonial era, as well as post-war immigrations. The cuisine boasts of a rich variety of sumptuous dishes from its different regions. Staple foods include chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and fish, served with potatoes and other vegetables. The most popular dishes are fish and chips, jellied eels, sandwiches, trifles, pies, and roasts. Some of the geographically indicated foods are the Yorkshire pudding, Cheshire cheese, Welsh rarebit, and Arbroath Smokie.
Festivals and Events
A number of festivals celebrated in the United Kingdom are centuries old. Major festivals in UK are Christmas, Easter, and Halloween. Christmas is celebrated not only in the UK, but all over the world. Christmas in England started in AD 596, when St. Augustine brought Christianity to the English shores. The traditional Christmas dinner in UK includes roast turkey and vegetables with a sauce.
Halloween is annually celebrated on October 31. This festival has its roots in the ancient Celtic festival "Samhain" that marks the end of the harvest season. According to the beliefs of Gaels, the boundary between the live and the dead dissolved on October 31. People in UK arrange Halloween parties and dress up as ghosts, skeletons, or other scary figures.
Besides these, there are other festivals too, like New Year and Plough Monday in the month of January, the Harvest Festival in September, while during November, it is Remembrance Day and Bonfire Night.
There are also popular events which people from all over the world attend. In England, there are Aldeburgh Festival, Beached Festival in Scarborough, Brighton Festival, Castlemorton Common Festival, Greenbelt Festival, and Harvest Festival. Some famous events in Scotland include the Edinburgh Festival, Hebridean Celtic Festival, and Shetland Folk Festival. Festivals held in Wales are Pontardawe Festival, National Eisteddfod of Wales, Llangollen International Eisteddfod, and Urdd National Eisteddfod.
There is no national dress code in the United Kingdom. A kilt is the national dress of Scotland. The national dress of Wales constitutes a long skirt, worn with a petticoat and a shawl. The customs and traditions regarding costumes are associated with particular people, like the Queen's Guard or the Beefeater. Costumes for the Morris dance or May dance are considered as the examples of traditional English costume.
Most of the British literature is written in English language. However, some literary works have also been written in Welsh, Latin, Cornish, Scottish Gaelic, Jerriais, and other languages native to the UK. United Kingdom is home to a number of world-famous authors and poets, such as William Wordsworth, William Blake, Lord Byron, John Keats, George Bernard Shaw, William Shakespeare, William Golding, Jane Austen, P. G. Wodehouse, and Thomas Hardy.
Music and Dance
Morris dance, May dance, and Long Sword or Rapper Sword dance are the folk dances of England. The traditional dances of Scotland include Strathspeys, Reels, Waltzes, and Jigs.
United Kingdom has made great contributions in the field of classical music. John Taverner, William Byrd, Benjamin Britten, Edward Elgar, and William Walton are some well-known British composers. United Kingdom is also home to the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. UK has also made significant contribution to the development of rock music, as a number of world-famous bands, like The Rolling Stones, Manic Street Preachers, Judas Priest, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Queen, and Black Sabbath originated in the UK.
The culture of United Kingdom is reflected in the customs and traditions, ethnic groups, religions, and the way of living here.