The invention of Tradition

Lots of things that we think of as being really old really are not. In fact the stories of how they came to be are actually quite strange and surprising. In some cases the tradition that we think of is completely at odds with the culture that is celebrating it. Let’s have a look at some examples.

  1. Fish and Chips. A British Classic!  The only thing in the Second World War that wasn’t rationed in fact. How much more British can you get? They’ve been on the menu and plates of UK dinners since time immemorial haven’t they? No. The dish is in no way British. No recipes existed until the arrival of East European Jews around the middle of the 18th Century. They introduced the concept of batter and frying rather than boiling everything and we really liked it. 150 years at best.

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  1. Aran Sweaters. An ancient Irish art that incorporates the mystical Celtic knots in it’s designs. The knitter has been using an old Irish skill to create these timeless classics since the dawn of Ireland’s beginnings. No. The Geansai sweater was introduced to the Aran Island in 1891 by something called the Congested Districts Board. The design comes from the Channel Islands originally.  Still a great wear though and there are some crackers from Shamrock Gift.

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  1. Stonehenge is ancient. It’s fragile and needs to be protected at all costs. No. The whole thing was dug up by the Ministry of Works in the 1920’s. The Stones were put in lead metal “shoes” and then sunk back back into holes filled with concrete. Their positions were an approximation. Before that locals used to take chunks out of them for farm buildings.

Does it matter? Not really.

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