The British are famous for traditions and culture, but many are borrowed from overseas. This article looks at five British things that are really French, from old school obscure to more modern and obvious. These include singing carols, celebrating with Champagne and eating French inspired food.
Singing carols at Christmas
Singing carols at Christmas is a mainstay of the festivities in Britain, from carol singers at the door to hearing the songs coming from your local church. The carols are very much part of a British Christmas but in some circles it is thought that they came to England from France. It’s believed that carols were originally accompanied by dance and were brought over in the Middle Ages.
Celebrating with Champagne
This is an obvious one! We’ve all been to a wedding, birthday party or other celebration when the Champagne is flowing. It’s long been a part of special occasions to crack open the Champagne when we’re celebrating, but this is very much a French tradition that has become part of British culture.
The British language
The British language is known and revered the world over but strictly speaking we can’t claim it to be our own entire making. The French have had a huge influence on the words we use, with over 10,000 words coming from France to England during the Normandy invasion. It is thought that we still use around three quarters of these words in modern day English. We also owe a lot to the French for our sentence construction and the way we pronounce words.
The food of love
The French have had a huge influence on British cooking and many of the most popular UK dishes are from France. Staple dishes like the casserole, omelette and even bread and cheese are all rooted in French culture. Top British chefs more often than not have classic French cookery training too, so we owe a lot to the French for our thriving restaurant culture as well.
The way we greet each other is definitely changing. We seem to be phasing out the handshake and hug in favour of the double kiss. Kissing someone on both cheeks has been a French salutation for hundreds of years and is fast becoming one of the most common greetings in the UK.
Tips for French ex pats
There are plenty of French influences in British culture to make ex pats feel at home and there are also many tips to make that transition even easier. One of the main pieces of advice would be to get a good grasp of the language so that you can fully integrate. Another one would be to embrace British culture so that you get the full experience.
Having said that, it’s important to keep in touch with friends and family back home in France. A good way of contacting them is to use VoIP communication systems. Systems like this make it easy for you to make cheap calls to France so you can always keep in touch with your loved ones.
International VoIP phone service.
The BBC’s guide to French cooking.
The Guardian’s guide to all things French.