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The International Guide To Weird UK Rituals

As a nation we love to break! KITKAT have travelled across the country on a mission to investigate some of the quirkier ways you spend your down-time. A spot of cheese rolling, bog snorkelling or Morris Dancing, anyone?

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1. Cheese-Rolling

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Who would've thought that a crowd of fearless competitors throwing themselves down a frightfully steep hill in pursuit of an eight-pound double Gloucester cheese could be turned into a competition?

Well it has. And it's an annual thing. People continue to throw themselves down a hill every year for the Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling Competition in Gloucestershire. What a unique way to spend the spring bank holiday.

2. Guy Fawkes Night

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On 5 November every year, Britain commemorates the derailing of the 1605 plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament led by Guy Fawkes. So to mark this pinnacle moment in our nation's history, we burn "Guys" on bonfires up and down the country.

Oh and there are fireworks too. All in all, a good night.

3. Jack in the Green

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This is essentially following a man dressed as bush through a town. Great, right?

In places such as Rochester and Hastings on the May Bank Holiday every year, participants wearing a large frame covered in foliage stroll through the streets, followed by "bogies" and a Morris group.

The tradition originally started as legalised begging for out-of-work chimney sweeps during the summer months with just a garland around the participants neck – but as you can see, the costume has, well, grown.

4. Pearly Kings and Queens

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No, this isn't Fashion Week. It's actually the annual Harvest Festival held in London. These rather fetching outfits adorned with pearl buttons are worn by the Pearly Kings and Queens – an organised charitable tradition of working-class London culture. Serious swag levels.

5. Christmas and Boxing Day Swim

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You would think on Christmas and Boxing Day, people would want to stay in where it's warm, eat, drink, and generally be merry. Well, if you thought that, you would be wrong. Very wrong.

In places up and down the country, be it Sandy Bay in South Wales, or the Serpentine in London, brave swimmers get into the festive spirit and dive into the icy waters for a Christmas swim.


BRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

7. Morris Dancing

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Morris dancing is as twee as it gets. A traditionally male-only dance, the choreography usually includes hitting sticks or swords, waving handkerchiefs, and skipping in a circle. Oh, and their trousers have bells. It really doesn't get much better than this.

8. Swan Upping

Carl De Souza / AFP / Getty Images

This practice is a traditional census of her Majesty the Queen's greatest treasure – the British swan population. Every year during the third week of July, the swans on certain stretches of the River Thames are checked and accounted for over this crucial five day expedition.

This extremely important event dates back to the 12th century and is really a spectacle to behold.

10. Ascot Ladies Day

Adrian Dennis / AFP / Getty Images

The prestigious Ascot races just wouldn't be the same without the iconic Ladies Day. Held on the third day of the July fixture, Ladies Day is a major event during the social season. Of course, the dress code for Ascot is extremely strict, but when it comes to hats, anything goes. Truly, it does.

11. Bog Snorkelling

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Mmhmm. This is a thing. We aren't lying to you. Every year, competitors dive into the Waen Rhydd bog in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, and race each other for charity along the 120ft muddy trench. Sounds great, doesn't it?

12. Worm Charming

Jean-francois Monier / AFP / Getty Images

Again, we promise, we really aren't lying to you. This is a thing. Every June in Willaston, Cheshire, the World Worm Charming Competition takes place. Participants must entice the earthly creatures out of the soil by playing music or patting the ground – the competition is strictly a no digging zone , so don't get any ideas.

13. Up Helly Aa

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On the last Tuesday of January, Lerwick on the Shetland Islands plays host to a festival of fire, celebrating Viking heritage. Every year, thousands of people dress up as Vikings and join a torch-lit procession through the streets, which leads to the main event – the burning of a replica Viking ship. Because why not?

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