Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Silly UK Laws

We all like to think we're law-abiding citizens. But watch out. You may have broken the law without even realising it. Here are a list of bonkers UK laws, most of which hold true today. The last one's a real jaw-dropper.

1.) Causing a nuclear explosion is illegal

If you have any plans for mass atomic-arson, you'd better watch out. The Prohibitions and Inspections of 1998 says anyone who causes a nuclear explosion faces life imprisonment. Can't say I didn't warn you.

2.) You're not allowed to sell bits of dead whales

Photo by NOAA.gov  / CC BY

Whales are reportedly classified as "Royal fish", and an old statute supposedly says that a King is entitled to the whale's head, while the Queen gets to keep the tail. Keep your eyes peeled, for maritime miscreants, dragging whale carcasses around.

3.) Singing expletive-laden songs in the street is illegal

The next time you find yourself singing a profane little ditty in the street, you might be breaking the law. Under the Metropolitan Police Act of 1839, people must not "use any profane, indecent or obscene language to the annoyance of the inhabitants or passengers [of thoroughfares]". Something to keep in mind, next time you're on a night out.

4.) It's an offence to import Polish potatoes into England and Wales unannounced

This wacky piece of legislation was introduced in 2004. If you happen to be in Poland, pick up a sack of spuds, and feel like bringing them back home to England and Wales, you need to have "given written notification to an inspector, at least two days prior to the intended date of introduction".

5.) For twelve years, celebrating Christmas was illegal

Following the end of the English Civil Wars and the execution of King Charles I, England, Ireland and Scotland briefly became a protectorate, with Oliver Cromwell serving as its Lord Protector. Cromwell was a Puritan. 

The word "puritan" is now used with negative connotations. Puritans are characterised as kill-joys. The actual Puritans in days of yore were simply Christians intent on erasing all traces of Roman Catholicism from English Christianity.

In 1647, there was essentially a war on Christmas. Bah Humbug! Mince pies were also banned. The whole purpose of it was that Roman Catholicism was viewed as overly idolatrous, that Christmas was a festival with no biblical justificaiton, and that people must be more frugal. 

Apparently, instead of festive celebrations, people were encouraged to partake in a day of fasting. For twelve years. Try getting your family to do that, nowadays!

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