Great Britain and Scotland have numerous traditional national customs. Particularly noticeable are the left-hand traffic and other smaller peculiarities that extend from differently functioning taps and door handles to the sockets.
The traditional pubs (public houses), which are popular and often visited by all generations, still close very early compared to other countries, even if the legal regulation that pubs must close at 11 p.m. has been abolished. The traditional “Sunday Roasts” and “Pub Quizzes” (game evenings) are definitely part of the “pub culture”. The traditional “Builder’s Tea” (black tea with milk) is still one of the favorite drinks of the British, but the well-known “5 o’clock Tea” is now rather a rarity.
The Scots still have a stubborn reputation for being long-haired Highlanders in kilts, who stand with bagpipes on the hills in the mist or ride through mountainous landscapes. Despite this reputation, the majority of Scots live a modern, European city life today. Unemployment is comparatively low, the income meets EU standards and there is a wide range of cultural and leisure options. In a nutshell: The Scots’ quality of life is quite high. There is still strong social cohesion in rural Scotland; in addition, the Scot is mainly characterized by his historical awareness. The resistance struggle against England has shaped the Scots and strengthened their national consciousness. They are proud of their Scottish heritage, their Gaelic traditions and peculiarities, their national heroes, the national dish haggis, their national drink Whsikey, the bagpipes, the kilt and their athletes, especially from rugby and football. The secret national anthem is Robert Burns’s “For Auld Landg Syne”, the first lines of which every child in Scotland knows by heart.
Measured by its population, Scotland has produced a disproportionately large number of inventors. The weatherproof raincoat, bicycle, asphalt, insulin, gas mask, telescope, color photography and self-adhesive postage stamp were invented here. And up to the present day, the Scottish inventive spirit has not waned: In 1996 the clone sheep Dolly was born in the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh.
The sense of family of the Scots has its basis in the ancient Gaelic culture, whose basis of survival was the so-called “clan being”. The clan is now a synonym for “clan” in many languages of the world, and the Gaelic word “clann” means nothing else. Since the early Middle Ages, the clan system developed in the seclusion of the Scottish highland valleys: In some cases powerful solidarity communities emerged, which together formed an efficient and viable community in the harsh nature and in the battles against enemies. Today’s clans are rather loose communities, but some clan chiefs still have considerable regional influence.
The old language of the Gael, Gaelic, is today a dying language despite all efforts. Scots, on the other hand, which also developed from Old English, is still widely spoken today and differs from English primarily in terms of vocabulary: It has around 50,000 separate vocabulary and the ‘r’ is rolled differently than in English – every traveler will find himself in first have to listen to the idiosyncratic language.
What is also unusual in a European comparison is the fact that all public museums (except for temporary exhibitions) are accessible free of charge.
They are mainly funded by the revenue of the state lottery. The much discussed and controversial health system NHS (National Health Service) is also free for all British citizens and residents of Great Britain.
The British, and thus also the Scots, are a people of sports spectators. A large number of national and international competitions are popular and well attended all year round. Many important competitive sports also come from the UK, such as football, golf, tennis and cricket. Although they belong politically to one nation, the British cannot be united in sport and the teams from England, Scotland and Wales usually play as separate national teams even in international competitions.
Here are some of the most important sporting events in the country:
- The annual Five Nations Rugby Union begins in February and ends in March. France competes with the teams of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
- The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race is a traditional eighth rowing competition between the cities’ two universities. It has been held every March on the Thames since 1845.
- The cup game at Wembley in May is the highlight of national football.
- The Grand National in April is one of the most famous horse races in the world and takes place in Liverpool.
- The London Marathon in April attracts thousands of long-distance runners to the capital every year.
- June is the month for the popular international grass tennis tournament at Wimbledon.
- In July, major competitions such as the Royal Ascott horse race and the Henley Royal Regatta rowing competition become all-important high society gatherings where the latest hat collections and sunglasses of the nobility and celebrities seem almost as important as the achievements of the athletes.
- The most important event for Formula 1 racing drivers is the British Grand Prix in Silverstone in July.
- The popular British Golf Championship takes place across the country in July.
- The Cartier International Polo Tournament in Windsor in July is mainly a meeting place for the aristocracy, but also one of the largest tournaments of its kind.
- The Ashes is the most famous and oldest cricket tournament in the country and takes place in the famous Lord’s Cricket Ground in London.
- In addition, London is now hosting the Olympic Games in summer 2012, for which preparations are already in full swing.