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What is English Culture?

56 replies

tortoiseshell · 17/08/2005 12:56

We stopped at a service station last week, and also in the car park was a busload of Indians going to a wedding. The ladies were all wearing beautiful saris, and the men had got some drums out and were doing some Indian dancing in the car park. This got me thinking - what is English culture (I've specified English because I think Scottish,Welsh and Irish culture is fairly clear). By culture I mean things that children grow up knowing because they're done in the family, clothes etc. Basically, if there was a 'FESTIVAL OF ENGLAND' what would be in it.

I couldn't really think of anything which I think is a real shame - the only things I eventually thought of were cricket and rowing/punting.

OP posts:
serenity · 17/08/2005 13:05

No idea, but I think the lack of an English cultural identity is why I'm so keen on DKids learning Greek and being able to take part in Dh's Cypriot identity. It's nice to have somewhere to 'hang your hat' iyswim and I've never felt that about England. I'm not saying I'm not happy to be English, but as you said, the few traditions we had growing up weren't universal they were family things only.

I think it's because we don't have a strong religious traditions anymore (I'm an definite agnostic so don't have a problem with that), most cultures with strong traditions seem to me to have strong faiths too, as if their religion is the backbone that their culture hangs off of.

serenity · 17/08/2005 13:09

Plus England is so diverse, and has so much input from other cultures from the Roman invasions onwards that perhaps 'Englishness' as a separate ethnic or cultural identity just doesn't really exist, and hasn't for centuries. Maybe the English identity is our diversity, and integration of other cultures?

Sorry, thinking too much. Must go and clean butter off of DD

Blu · 17/08/2005 13:12

Picnics, the Nativity Play (as a cultural event seaparate from it's religious currnecy), working men's clubs, bonfire night, The Queens Speech (with or without irony), mince pies, yorkshire pudding / sunday roast, doing the conga at weddings, carnival,...seaside resorts, rock, The Beatles and singing along to beatles songs, local accents and phrases, rich phrases and sayings....

Marina will be along in a minute with her brilliant and definitive arts and culture list, too!

northerner · 17/08/2005 13:17

Maypole, Harvest festivals, street parties, country pubs and open fires

aloha · 17/08/2005 13:24

Like Blu's list lots - thinking about bonfire night made me quite excited!. Plus buckets and spades and sandcastles, bunting, fetes, tombolas, old ladies shaking tins for charity, ring a ring a roses in the playground, pubs, going for a walk, victoria sponges, amateurishness, radio hams, steak and kidney pie, home knitted clothes, Boden (!), shorts and start-rite shoes, smocking, the WI, jam-making, Jerusalem (the hymn), gardening (esp roses and front gardens), municipal planting in parks with dates in marigolds....

aloha · 17/08/2005 13:25

Scouts and Brownies, sweetshops, apple crumble....

aloha · 17/08/2005 13:26

Sitting on freezing beaches with a windbreak and sandy sandwich...
flasks of tea

aloha · 17/08/2005 13:30

The Proms, eating your dinner in front of the telly, Sunday roasts, hats, Pimms, wendy houses..

oliveoil · 17/08/2005 13:31

Self depreciation (is that the right term?)

aloha · 17/08/2005 13:32

Changing the guard at Buckingham Palace, going by bus, cake as a staple food item, going for a curry, reading Beatrix Potter and The Wind In The Willows and Enid Blyton.

tarantula · 17/08/2005 13:32

Things I have noticed that are very English are Beer gardens, Bonfire Night/Penny for the Guy and weird school uniforms . Will try to think of some more.

aloha · 17/08/2005 13:32

Rainsoaked open air performances.

aloha · 17/08/2005 13:32

Rude jokes. Puns.

aloha · 17/08/2005 13:33

Elderflower cordial.

spidermama · 17/08/2005 13:33

I feel deep culteral stirrings when at any outdoor gatherings. There's a part of me deep inside which feels proud to be English, but I've been brought up to believe it's wrong of me and any such pride equals an out and out hatred of all other cultures.

I resent that we English are so embarrassed about and neglectful of our own cultural identity. My granddad was one of those who died to protect our way of life so it's sad that I don't really know what that is.

I also resent that Scottish and Welsh people feel free to be openly racist about the English. Having been brought up as an English girl in Scotland I was a minotiry who was seen as fair game to have a pop at, by teachers and pupils alike. I din't feel I or my family had done anything to deserve the contempt we generated just by being English.

aloha · 17/08/2005 13:36

trial by jury, habeus corpus, innocent until proven guilty and all the other things that this government are trying take away from us under the guise of protecting us from terrorism.
Oh, and sceptism (including contempt and downright loathing) of all politicians is also very English IMO!

aloha · 17/08/2005 13:36

Punch and Judy

colditz · 17/08/2005 13:36

Getting up on a Sunday morning, having a fry up, going to a car boot sale.

Then coming home mid afternoon, eating roast beef and trimmings, then watching Eastenders followed by the Antiques Roadshow.

Having sandwiches and cake during Songs of Praise.

A very English day!

ks · 17/08/2005 13:37

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn

aloha · 17/08/2005 13:38

How could I forget fryups and car boot sales!

Gin and tonic at a (probably slightly shabby) country house hotel weekend break. Sigh.

Lizzylou · 17/08/2005 13:38

Love Church/School Fetes and bunting!
Village street parties/Galas, where the whole village is closed down and you can just wander round stalls and tombolas.
Village Greens and Cricket matches...Bonfire Night. All have been mentioned and are all lovely.
I agree with Spidermama in that it is a shame that we have somehow lost the right to be proud of our "Englishness" Dh gets angry that St Patricks Day is made such a big deal of here (mainly by pubs selling Guinness!) yet nothing is done for St Georges Day.......

spidermama · 17/08/2005 13:39

Real Morris dancing, duck fares, white chalk horses carved into hills, the Giant at Cerne Abbas, village ponds and May festivals, Trade Unions, The abolition of slavery, football, The industrial revolution, orderly queueing and binge drinking. Wild partying, politeness, the gift of self-effacement, oak trees, picnics in the rain, cricket (in the rain), the Dunkirk Spirit, the Blue Remembered Hills of our green and pleasant land.

(Patriotic tears well up in my eyes ... but I won't allow them to roll).

Blu · 17/08/2005 14:20

Brass bands
Growing roses
tea time

Pruni · 17/08/2005 14:26

Message withdrawn

moondog · 17/08/2005 14:29

spidermama.. you know I love ya but I don't agree with your comment that the Scottish and Welsh feel free to be 'openly racist' (not that this is the appropriate term anyway) about the English.
As a very patriotic Welsh girl,unfortunately more often than not,it is the other way 'round.

(I could bore you with reams and reams of examples but I won't.)

I'm half English though and agree that English patriotism and cutlural traditions need to reassert themselves, or else we will all soon have regular worship at the altar of Tesco as our only point in common.

Love the list. Bill Bryson had an excellent one in his book that I used to go through with the trainee interpeters that I taught in Russia.

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