What really makes us British?

St George’s Day is just weeks away (23rd April), and with the Queen’s real birthday on the horizon too, I got thinking about all things British. What is it that sets us apart? What makes us British? We are renowned for queuing up and moaning about the weather, but there must be something else that makes our little island stand out from the crowd?

Afternoon tea is a small meal snack typically eaten between 2pm and 5pm. The custom of afternoon tea originated in England in the 1840s. At the time, the various classes in England had a divergence in their eating habits. The upper classes typically ate luncheon at about midday and dinner (if not eschewed in favor of the later supper) at 8:00 pm or later, while the lower classes ate dinner at about 11:00 am and then a light supper at around 7:00 pm. For both groups, afternoon tea filled a gap in the meals. The custom spread throughout the British Empire and beyond in succeeding decades. However, changes in social customs and working hours mean that most 21st Century Britons will rarely take afternoon tea, if at all.

Elevenses is a snack that is similar to afternoon tea, but eaten in the morning. It is generally less savoury than brunch, and might consist of some cake or biscuits with a cup of coffee or tea. The name refers to the time of day that it is taken: around 11am. The term is first attested, in East Anglia, as elevens (1849), elevenses appearing first in the record in 1889. Along with fourses, it seems originally to have been a lower-class usage, but by the middle of the twentieth century was associated with middle class language and culture.

Fish and Chips – The dish became popular in wider circles in London and South East England in the middle of the 19th century (Charles Dickens mentions a “fried fish warehouse” in Oliver Twist, first published in 1838), while in the north of England a trade in deep-fried chipped potatoes developed. The first chip shop stood on the present site of Oldham’s Tommyfield Market. It remains unclear exactly when and where these two trades combined to become the fish-and-chip shop industry we know today. Joseph Malin opened the first recorded combined fish-and-chip shop in London in 1860 or in 1865, while a Mr Lees pioneered the concept in the North of England, in Mossley, in 1863.

Tennis (and cloudy lemonade) Wimbledon (25 June – 8 July in 2012), is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, considered by many to be the most prestigious. It has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London since 1877. It is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the other three Majors being the Australian Open, French Open and US Open. Wimbledon is the only Major still played on grass, the game’s original surface, which gave the game of lawn tennis its name. The tournament takes place over two weeks in late June and early July, culminating with the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Singles Final, scheduled respectively for the second Saturday and Sunday. Each year, five major events are contested, as well as four junior events and three invitational events.

The Queen – Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926[note 1]) is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms, and head of the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations. In her specific role as the monarch of the United Kingdom, one of her 16 realms, she is also Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Elizabeth was born in London, and educated privately at home. Her father acceded to the throne as George VI in 1936 on the abdication of his brother Edward VIII. She began to undertake public duties during the Second World War, in which she served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. On the death of her father in 1952, she became Head of the Commonwealth and queen regnant of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon. Her coronation service in 1953 was the first to be televised.

All information courtesy of Wikipedia.