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British Life & Culture
Unusual British Customs & Traditions
by Mandy Barrow

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Strange, bizarre, wacky, eccentric and even mad festivals still taking place in Britain today

Calendar of unusual Customs and Traditions
in England, Scotland and Wales
image: Unusual Calendar

A long time ago the year was marked out with special days which marked the passing year. These were days of celebrations where people would do things, eat things or make things which they would not normally do.

See also folk, facts and sayings about November

1st and 2nd November

Soul Cakes would be taken door to door by children, who would exchange them with householders for gifts of sweets, pennies, and this would be good luck for both parties. Soul-caking has survived throughout the west midlands, from Coventry to Manchester to Sheffield
Find out more

Bonfire Night 5 November

Fireworks can be hward all over the UK on and around the 5 November.

The most famous Bonfire Night celebrations take place at Lewes East Sussex, where there is a torch light procession bfore the lighting on the bonfire.

Tar-Barrel Racing Ottery St Mary, Devon

Ottery St. Mary is internationally renowned for its Tar Barrels, an old custom said to have originated in the 17th century.

Tar Barrel racing

The annual event involves people racing through the streets of the town, carrying flaming wooden barrels of burning tar on their backs.


Turning the Devil's Stone - Shebbear, near Holsworthy

On Guy Fawkes night, the villagers of Shebbear in Devon, turn over a six feet long stone under an ancient oak tree. While it is not known for how long the practice of turning the stone has been going on, there is a
wealth of legend surrounding it and as to how it arrived.

One theory is that it was dropped by the Devil himself when he was cast out of heaven by St Michael.

23 November
Old Clem's Night

The traditional blacksmith's day
Held in honour of St Clement, patron saint of Blacksmiths.

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Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.