Friday, January 21, 2022

Traditions & Customs in United Kingdom

EuropeUnited KingdomTraditions & Customs in United Kingdom

Read next

In most social situations it is acceptable to address a person by their first name. First names are sometimes avoided among strangers in order not to appear too familiar. In very formal or professional situations, first names are usually not used until people get to know each other better. The best strategy is to use what they have introduced to each other. Officials (e.g. policemen or doctors), however, will always address you by your title and surname, e.g. “Mr Schmidt”.

The British can be extremely indirect when asking for things from people they don’t know. It is common for Brits to ask “right to left” when asking something: for example, you would be more inclined to say something like “Where can I find the cloakroom?” in a clothing shop than “Where is the cloakroom?”. Although it is quite common to ask questions directly, these can sometimes be seen as too blunt or even rude.

Similarly, saying “what” when you don’t understand something can be considered rude to authority figures or people you don’t know, so “excuse me” or “sorry” is more appropriate in situations with a stranger or superior. British people often apologise even when there is absolutely no reason to do so. For example, if someone accidentally steps on someone else’s foot, both people usually apologise. This is a British practice and if you harp on it (e.g. “What are you sorry about?”) you will be identified as a foreigner. Often a British person will ask for something or start a conversation with “sorry”. Not because he or she is sorry, but because it is used instead of “excuse me” or “sorry”.

Leave a personal space between you and others in queues and elsewhere. You will usually find this space in places like cinemas. Generally, you will find that unless people know each other, they will usually choose to fill each row of seats and keep as much distance as possible until it is necessary to sit right next to each other. Exceptions are high traffic situations where this is not possible, such as on the metro.

The greeting depends on the situation. In any situation that is not a work situation, a verbal greeting (e.g. “Hello (name)!”) is sufficient. Younger people usually say “Hello”, “Hiya” or “Hey”, although the latter is also used to attract attention and should not be used to address a stranger as it would be considered rude. Another British greeting (often used by young people) is “You all right?” or “All right?”. (sometimes abbreviated to “A” in the north of England), which is actually a combination of “Hello” and “How are you?”. This term can be confusing to strangers, but it is easy to either reply with a return greeting (which is much more common), or to say how you feel (usually something short like “I’m fine, how are you?”).

A greeting can sometimes be accompanied by a kiss on the cheek or, more rarely, a hug. The etiquette for a hug is somewhat complicated, so the best advice is to accept a hug (regardless of gender) when offered, otherwise a handshake is appropriate. In a formal situation or a first greeting between two strangers, a handshake is the right thing to do, it should be of appropriate (usually moderate) firmness.

For more details on unwritten rules about greetings, salutations, gossip, British hypocrisy, etc., read Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour by anthropologist Kate Fox (ISBN 0340752122).

The Scots are Scottish, the Welsh are Welsh and the English are English. Calling them all “English” is not correct and can be insulting. Bear in mind also that most unionists in Northern Ireland do not want to be called Irish. On the other hand, most nationalists in Northern Ireland will identify themselves as Irish and register as Irish citizens and carry Irish passports, which all people born in Northern Ireland have the right to do if they so wish. You will also find that although all people in the UK are legally considered British, they often prefer to be referred to by the country in the UK where they were born rather than using the collective term British. It is also common to meet someone who may say “I am half Welsh, half English” or “my parents are Scottish and I am English”.

We have to avoid calling the Falkland Islands Argentine because it is quite a sensitive issue for some people: 250 British soldiers died in 1982 fighting to defend the islands against Argentine control. As the war was won by the British, the Falkland Islands remain a British overseas territory to this day. To a lesser extent, the same advice applies when it comes to Gibraltar, as Spain claims it as its own territory.

While many Britons regard the V-sign with the palm facing outwards as a sign of “peace” or “victory”, the opposite with the palm facing inwards is considered an insulting gesture equivalent to the raised middle finger.

Manifestations of same-sex affection are not likely to cause disorder or offence, except in certain rural areas or in the difficult neighbourhoods of certain cities. Cities with larger gay populations include London, Birmingham, Manchester, Brighton, Bournemouth and Edinburgh. Cities such as Brighton hold annual Pride Festivals. Civil partnerships have been legal since 2005 and same-sex marriage has been legal since 2014. However, a person looking for a fight may decide to use someone’s sexuality as an excuse. Try to avoid eye contact with drunk people in the city centre at night, especially if they are in large groups. It is also important to note that in Northern Ireland homosexual displays and activities are rarely shown outside of Belfast, where many people will still have conservative values. It should be remembered that in Belfast some areas are safer than others to show affection. Although ‘cross-dressing’ is not illegal in the UK, it is generally advisable to be modest in your choice of clothing unless you are familiar with local standards beforehand.

It is now illegal to urinate in public. If you are caught urinating, the police will caution you, fine you and in some places you will have to clean your own urine with a mop and disinfectant, which can be very embarrassing for offenders. In addition, “indecent assault” (defined as exposing genitals with the intention of shocking people who do not want to see them) is treated as a sexual offence.

How To Travel To United Kingdom

By planeThere are direct international flights to many cities other than just the airports whose name includes "London". Recently, many airports in the south of England have added "London" to their names. Be aware that just because an airport has "London" in its name, this does not mean that...

How To Travel Around United Kingdom

Plan your tripWith public transportTraveline, +44 871 2002-233 (calls cost £0.12/min from the UK). Traveline provides an online travel planning service for all public transport in the UK, excluding air travel. They also have separate planners for specific regions. You can also download their free apps for iPhone and...

Visa & Passport Requirements for United Kingdom

England is connected to France by the Channel Tunnel. Northern Ireland shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland.UK, does not fully implement the Schengen Agreement, which means that travel to and from other EU countries (except Ireland) requires systematic checks of passports/ID cards at the border and...

Destinations in United Kingdom

Regions in United KingdomThe United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a union composed of the following original nations and territories:EnglandThe most important component, both in terms of size and by far the largest component in terms of population. A 'green and pleasant land', England nevertheless has...

Weather & Climate in United Kingdom

The UK has a mild, humid temperate climate, tempered by the North Atlantic Current and the proximity of the sea. The hot, humid summers and mild winters offer temperatures pleasant enough to enjoy outdoor activities all year round. However, the weather in the UK can be changeable and conditions...

Accommodation & Hotels in United Kingdom

The UK offers a wide range of hotels, rated on a star scale from 5-star luxury (and beyond!) to basic 1-star. There are also a large number of private B&Bs (short for "B&B") offering rooms with usually a fried "full English breakfast". You can also rent a private house...

Things To See in United Kingdom

From Land's End in the south to John O'Groats in the north, there is so much to see in the UK. There are hundreds of free museums across the country, thousands of urban parks to browse, tens of thousands of interesting communities to visit and millions of acres of...

Things To Do in United Kingdom

Although most visitors will visit London at some point, it's worth getting out of the capital to get a real insight into the country and it's important not to forget the diversity that can be found within a radius of just 50 miles.Whether you are looking for the countryside,...

Food & Drinks in United Kingdom

Food in United KingdomDespite its unjustly negative reputation, British food is in fact very good and has improved greatly in recent decades, and many Britons are proud of their national dishes. Mid-range and upmarket restaurants and supermarkets are still of a high standard and the choice of international dishes...

Money & Shopping in United Kingdom

MoneyThe currency used throughout the United Kingdom is the pound (£) (more correctly called sterling to distinguish it from the Syrian or Egyptian pound, but it is not used in common parlance), divided into 100 pence (singular penny) (p).The coins appear in 1p (small copper), 2p (large copper), 5p...

Festivals & Holidays in United Kingdom

Public holidaysEvery country (and sometimes some cities, like Glasgow and Edinburgh) in the UK has a number of (slightly different) public holidays when the majority of people are not working. Shops, pubs, restaurants and the like are usually open. Many UK residents use these holidays to travel, both within...

Internet & Communications in United Kingdom

PhoneIn an emergency, dial 999 or 112 from any phone.These calls are free of charge and are answered by an emergency service worker who will ask you what service(s) you need (police, fire, ambulance, coastguard or mountain rescue) and where you are.You can also call 999 or 112 from...

Language & Phrasebook in United Kingdom

EnglishEnglish is spoken throughout the UK, although there are parts of major cities where a variety of languages are also spoken due to immigration. English spoken in the UK has many accents and dialects, some of which may include words unknown to other English speakers. It is quite common...

Culture Of United Kingdom

The culture of the United Kingdom has been influenced by many factors, including: the country's insularity, its history as a Western liberal democracy and great power, and the fact that it is a political union of four countries, each of which has retained different elements of tradition, custom and...

History Of United Kingdom

Britain, the largest island of the British Isles, has been inhabited since at least the last Ice Age, more than 10,000 years ago. Ireland is thought to have been settled by modern humans around the same time, or perhaps a little later. Although little is known about the inhabitants...

Stay Safe & Healthy in United Kingdom

Stay safe in United KingdomIn general, the UK is a safe country to travel to; you won't make many mistakes if you follow the general advice and tips for Europe.In an emergency, call 999 or 112 (free from any phone, including mobile phones) and ask for an ambulance, fire...

Asia

Africa

South America

Europe

North America

Most Popular