This article was updated by the Great British Mag content team on 22 September 2021
Defining a typical Brit is a tricky and dangerous thing to attempt. After all, this is a nation of immigrants and a product of four countries coming together over time. And one of the worst cultural mistakes you can make is confusing a Scot for being English and vice versa. So how do you differentiate the humans of Great Britain?
The biggest and most populated of the four nations is England: the home of the Beatles, the Beckhams and tea. And yes it’s true that more cups of tea are drunk per person in England than anywhere else in the world.
The world often sees the typical English person as posh, sounding like the Queen, drinking tea and eating sandwiches all day long. They might picture men wearing a neat striped suit and maybe even a bowler hat. In reality, the era of wearing a bowler hat is long gone, and most English people don’t speak like the Queen. They do love tea and sandwiches, though.
Whilst generalising is a dangerous game, let’s dive in and talk about the English reserve and the infamous “stiff upper lip,” which means you don’t let your feelings show. It’s a common portrayal of the English and it does have some truth to it. English people can be incredibly reserved and in moments of crisis don’t often show their panic or upset. Instead, they choose to keep going. The English will power through any problem with the aid of a cup of tea (or something stronger).
Without being unkind to our American cousins, the English are very different. You won’t find us bending over backwards to be jolly and we don’t have that familiar friendliness of many southern Europeans. Don’t take quietness for rudeness – it just sometimes takes a little more time to get an English person talking.
Scotland is the wild, beautiful north of the United Kingdom. It’s home to the biggest mountains the UK has to offer and its dramatic coastlines are swept by both the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
The stereotypical Scot is a fierce, strong redhead with a fondness for whisky. There is actually a tiny grain of truth to this stereotype as 5%-6% of Scots boast the rare genetic mutation that causes red hair.
The national dress for men, the kilt, is extremely well-known but it’s highly unlikely you’ll see a man baring his legs unless you are invited to a formal gathering, such as a wedding. Most Scottish men (and a fair number of women) prefer trousers for daily wear.
Talking of gatherings, the Scots don’t need much excuse to open a bottle of whisky and have a “wee dram,” making it no surprise that they are the biggest consumer of whisky in the UK. But their love of the stuff makes total sense. It gets cold in Scotland and on a wet and windy day (which happen often), who would say no to a drink that acts like a radiator?
The island of Ireland is split into two parts. Most of the island is the Republic of Ireland, which is a separate country; however the northeastern corner of the island is Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK.
Both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are famous for their festivities to mark their patron saint, St Patrick. The celebrations on 17 March were originally a holy day, but these days the holiday is associated with parades and Guinness beer, the national drink of Ireland.
For many in the UK and other parts of the world, St Patrick’s Day is about a big party, alcohol and dressing up in green from head to foot. The reason for the green is because the Irish associate the clover plant with St Patrick, who used the plant as a symbol to teach his followers about one of Christianity’s most important concepts, the Holy Trinity.
The two most striking things about the Irish are their mesmerising accents and their charm. They like to talk and they like to laugh. Don’t be surprised if you meet an Irish person, have a drink with them for hours, and wind up feeling as though they’re your best friend.
The Welsh are known for being extremely patriotic and fierce – like their Scottish cousins – but confusingly shy and reserved at the same time. Whilst Wales is part of the UK, they have their own language, Welsh, although everyone in Wales can also speak English.
To see the devotion the Welsh have for Wales and their language you just need to head to a rugby game. Rugby is more popular than football in Wales, to the point where it is basically the nation’s unofficial religion. You will see people singing the national anthem, which is called “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau,” with real joy and pride.
The Welsh are striking-looking people with their twinkly green and blue eyes and their jet-black hair. Of course, the Welsh come in different sizes, but a positive stereotype of men is that they are strong-looking and muscular. This stereotype springs from the region’s mining history.