Us crazy Brits will always find an excuse for a bit of fun, but even I was surprised to discover some of the weird and wonderful Easter traditions that continue to take place in good old Blighty.
After doing a bit of research here are some of my favourite quirky British traditions that take place over Easter every year.
The Hot Cross Bun Ceremony
A ceremony dating back to the early 19th century takes place every Good Friday at London pub The Widow’s Son.
The story has it that the pub was a house originally owned by a widow. Expecting her sailor son back for an Easter visit in 1824, she placed a hot cross bun out for him on Good Friday as he’d requested. Sadly he never returned, but she left it there for him and hung a new bun from a beam of the house every year. The property became known as the Bun House and the buns were still hanging when she died.
In 1848 the house became a pub, but over the years the landlords continued the old lady’s tradition, and now every year on Good Friday a member of the Royal Navy is invited to pop a bun into a net above the bar.
Forget egg rolling, Dunstable’s residents have always preferred oranges! An old custom saw people rolling oranges down the slopes of Pascombe Pit every Good Friday. As you can see from the pic below, it’s a steep slope!
Although it seemed to die out in the late 20th century, it seems there are a few locals that continue the tradition!
The Nutters Dance
Ever year since the 1850s a bunch of Lancastrian clog dancers called the Britannia Coconut Dancers (better known as Nutters!) dance seven miles across the town of Bacup on Easter Saturday.
Their name comes from the wooden nuts they wear on their knees, wrists and waists, which they tap together like castanets.
Wearing white turbans, dark jerseys and colourful skirts or trousers, they blacken their faces and dance to ward off evil siprits.
In recent years the dance has faced issues: police have tried to ban it and there’s also been a lack of support in regards to traffic management and security.
World Egg Jarping Championships
Want to find out if your boiled egg is the hardest? Then you better come along to the World Egg Jarping Championships which takes place on Easter Monday in Peterlee, County Durham.
Tap your eggs together and the one that lasts the longest without cracking is the winner!
Hare Pie Scramble and Bottle Kicking
This ancient tradition takes place in Hallerton, Leicestershire every Easter Monday.
It begins with a procession through the village led by the ‘Warrener’ with his hare-topped staff. Attendants follow with baskets of bread and, of course, the Hare Pie and then the villagers tag along.
During the procession the pie is blessed at the church and then passed on to the crowd, the bread gets eaten and then the big match begins.
This entails a mass ballgame played with small wooden casks filled with ale, called bottles. Competing are the villagers and their neighbours from Medbourne, and the goals are a mile apart. The bottles are thrown in the air (it doesn’t sound like there’s much kicking involved!) and the game is decided by the best of three bottles.
I reckon it must be a blast to play (although dangerous – injuries are common) and just as much fun to watch!
If any of these events tickle your fancy or youâ€™d like to find out about more weird and wonderful traditions in the UK, I’d recommend checking out Calendar Customs, a great website I came across during my research. You may also want to check out our top ten crazy UK traditions and events post, which covers everything from snail racing to bog snorkelling!
Widow’s Son – London Images
Orange rolling – Dunstable History
Bottle Kicking – Jean-Marc Teychenne, via Flikr.