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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 October

First Sunday
Pearly King Harvest Festival

pearly king and queensChurch of St Martin-in-the-Fields.
Dating from the 19th century, the Pearly Kings & Queens are a much-loved Cockney tradition. It started when a young boy covered a suit with pearly buttons to attract attention and to raise money for the poor at charity events and fairs. Other boroughs were so impressed that they got their own Pearly King or Queen.
The tradition continues to thrive today and Pearly Kings and Queens can be seen in their full spectacle at the annual Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival.

The annual Harvest Festival Service at the church of St. Martin-in-the Fields offers a spectacular display of historical London in all its glory.

Second Sunday
World Conker Championship Ashton, Northamptonshire
Information about the game of conkers

4th Thursday
Punky Night

Traditionally on this night, children in the South of England would carve their ‘Punkies’,(pumpkins) into Jack O'Lanterns. Once carved the children would go out in groups and march through the streets, singing traditional ‘punky’ songs, calling in at friendly houses and competing for best lantern with rival groups they meet. The streets would be lit with the light of the Punkies.

Today, in Hinton St George, Somerset, the children still carry candle-lanterns made from hollow out pumpkins through the streets in the evening.

Michaelmas Fair, Abingdon, Oxon

The Michaelmas Fair (also known as the Ock Fair) was originally a 'hiring mart' for those seeking employment.

October Plenty
Bankside outside Shakespeare's Globe

"October Plenty is an Autumn harvest celebration held annually in Southwark. Beginning on the Bankside, by Shakespeare's Globe, October Plenty mixes ancient seasonal customs and theatre with contemporary festivity, joining with historic Borough Market, Southwark." The LionsPart

The Berry Man

The Berry Man is the Lions Part Autumn incarnation of the original Green Man. The berry man is coverd with wild fruits and foliage.

The Corn Queene effigy

The Corn Queene effigy
A Corn Queene effigy made from wheat, barley and other grains, and apples, root vegetables and foliage from the Borough Market, is paraded

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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.