Every country has its customs which are unique to the summer season. Americans send their kids off to summer camps and get 2-litre Slurpees, while Canadians go fishing with a 24 of beer. The Brits are not alone in the fact that once the days get a bit longer and warmer certain foods, activities and rituals begin to pop up. Here are a few.
The 99 Flake
Created in a factory in Birmingham this is a soft ice cream served in a waffle cone with a Cadbury Flake (a strip chocolate bar) sticky out of it. As a soft ice cream, they can get messy fast so the Brits tend to eat it quickly and don’t feel bad at all for paying a whole 2 pounds 50 for it!!
Another very fun activity is going off to the petrol station to pick up a ready-made portable grill that can be taken out to the park and can easily cook up any kind of BBQ delights you could imagine. The little portable grills come with their own coals and these can last for up to 5-6 hours, but let’s face it – it’ll probably rain later on!
It is popular to spontaneously pick up one of these grills and pop off to the park with some mates and cook up some sausages from the local Sainsbury’s just for the fun of it.
The Summer Solstice
This is the time of the year that falls between June 20th – 22nd and qualifies as the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere – meaning the longest continuous period of daylight.
This was a very important time in pagan times and for this reason, many tourists (as many as 20,000) will gather at Stone Hedge to watch the sun come up on that day. It probably wasn’t that exciting in the Bronze Age but who knows.
In modern Britain, it is often seen as a good excuse just to stay out as late as possible to watch the sun come up…after a night of partying with your mates somewhere.
Britain is an island and as such one would expect a summertime trip off to the coast to be a high priority on any family’s list of things to do. When at the beach a bit of a summer ritual involves creating elaborate and ornate sandcastles.
It has become an exact science – somehow achieving the perfect sand to water ratio for maximum stickiness. Specialised buckets with precast patterns and shapes help the builder to create the most beautiful edifices possible. Of course, the question always remains: what will the beloved castle succumb to first? The tide? A distracted and careless beach-goer? Or perhaps simply its own weight? Only time will tell but the builder nevertheless powers on because the thrill is in the building process and not the result.
Street Parties are a long-held tradition dating back to the end of the Second World War era and meant as a celebration of peace among smaller communities. The formula has remained constant – a street is closed and bunting is strung along with lamp posts and a long line of picnic tables is arranged down the centre of the street. The neighbours all come out and bring pot-luck style dishes for everyone to enjoy and a great afternoon is enjoyed by all!
Although traditionally seen as an event celebrating the kind of old-fashioned neighbourliness of a bygone era, street parties have seen a resurgence of late and local authorities even post guidelines on how such events can be most successfully organised.
So these are some common of Britain’s summer traditions. Which ones have you taken part in? Are there any that you particularly liked? Let us know in the comment section.
distracted – not paying attention
Bunting – a line, strung up on high, comprised of an array of triangular flags with the point of the flag hanging downwards.