What Are Some Cultural Differences Between the US and the UK?

What Are Some Cultural Differences Between the US and the UK?
by Tom Senkus

When one thinks of the United States and the United Kingdom, you might be tempted to think that sharing a common language and a historical past would lead to sharing similar cultural values. You’d only be sort-of right. While both are some of the world’s leading economic powerhouses, there are stark cultural differences between Americans and the British. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of these in detail.

The Workplace

Compared to the British, Americans work harder and put in more hours. This is apparent in the fact that many Americans may only receive two weeks of paid vacation time per year (there is no government mandate for paid vacation time), whereas as their British counterparts are legally entitled to at least twice that per year. This is, due in part, to the American concept of chasing “The American Dream,” which is a belief that those who work diligently will achieve their definition of success. However, many American workplaces are conducted more casually than their British counterparts, where even typically-laissez faire tech companies favor a suit-and-tie dress code and strict hierarchies.


Many cultural exports are exchanged between the US and the UK, such as television shows like American Idol and The Office, as well as musical acts that top the charts in both countries. However, sports are one divisive topic for many American and British citizens. For instance, football (soccer for Americans) is a HUGE deal in the United Kingdom, where fans flock to the stadiums almost year-round to cheer on their teams. In contrast, Americans have a plethora of sports teams to root for, with college football and basketball occupying a large swath of American sports fandom. Then there are the national teams, like the NFL, NBA, and NHL, which offer year-round amusement for those that want to cheer on their teams in the United States.


American food is a melting pot. While the popular designation for Americans is eating nothing but burgers and fries, the truth is that most Americans have a cross-cultural diet that spans each wave of immigration: sausages/ hotdogs from Germany, pizza from Italy and the Mediterranean, coffee from South American, and much more. Those in the United Kingdom have their own culinary cultural melting pot, with Indian cuisine and fried chicken taking a precedent to the fish-and-chips that is customarily associated with the UK.


The United States features a vast amount of different cultures, as does the United Kingdom. That being said, America traditionally has more Hispanic residents who speak Spanish (and various dialects of it) and French speakers (Creole and the states bordering Canada), whereas these demographics are absent in Britain. Instead, many Polish and European immigrants have flocked to the United Kingdom to make the country a home away from. Similarly, many Muslims, particularly Pakistani immigrants,  have made the United Kingdom their home, with numerous cultural and culinary offerings for all.


The United Kingdom celebrates the following holidays:

Jan. 1st – New Year’s Day
Jan 2nd – Day after New Year’s Day (Scotland only)
Jan 25th – Burns night (Scotland only, not a public holiday)
Feb 13th – Pancake Tuesday (Shrove Tuesday, not a public holiday)
Mar 1st – St. David’s Day (Wales only, not a public holiday)
March 11th – Mothering Sunday (Not a national holiday)
March 19th – St. Patrick’s Day (Northern Ireland only)
March 30th – Good Friday (Friday before Easter Sunday)
April 2nd – Easter Monday (except Scotland)
April 23rd – St. George’s Day (England only, not a public holiday)
May 7th – Early May Bank Holiday (1st Monday in May)
May 28th – Spring Break Holiday (Last Monday in May)
June 17th – Father’s Day (3rd Sunday in June, not a public holiday)
July 12th – Battle of the Boyne (Northern Ireland only)
August 6th – August Bank Holiday (Scotland only, first Monday in August)
August 27th – August Bank Holiday (Last Monday in August [except Scotland])
November 5th – Guy Fawkes Night (England only, but not a public holiday)
November 11th – Remembrance Sunday
November 30th – St. Andrews Day (Scotland Only)
December 25th – Christmas Day
December 26th – Boxing Day

Just for contrast, the following days are celebrated in the United States here.

As you can see, understanding how people are working in the United Kingdom is certainly different than the United States. Understanding how citizens of each country operate can open doors (and close doors) when it comes to doing business.


As it should be noted, Americans are more self-aggrandizing and more boastful of their homeland. Those in the United Kingdom are more apt to be self-deprecating, encapsulated in the motto “Keep Calm and Carry On.” It is this difference that is most prominent. Safety is a big concern in the United Kingdom, where you’ll see numerous caution signs warning the public of inherent danger, whereas American will assume that everything is taken care of until there is an incident (whereupon there will be litigation and lawsuits, etc.).

Additionally, Americans are more patriotic, considering that most people emigrate to the country to explore the freedoms that the United States has to offer. The United Kingdom, too, has its share of ‘live and let be,’ but Americans will make you more aware of how they are part of diversity, freedom, and an ultimately more inclusive community. In fact, it will be hard to find a vehicle or a person who openly waves the Union Jack in public as a display of their solidarity with the way their country is run.

One thing both the United States and the United Kingdom have in common is that they prefer to use their phones for finalizing important business transactions and getting things done. If you decide to Buy United States phone number, you can be sure to reach either side of the pond no matter where your business is located. This is because virtual phone numbers allow individuals and businesses to route calls through the Internet without long-distance fees, service provider restrictions, or service dropouts. Similarly, UK Call Forwarding can put your US-based business in touch with individuals in the United Kingdom by forwarding your calls with VoIP, ensuring that you can provide such options as toll free numbers that don’t charge customers to get in touch with you.


Tom Senkus is a freelance writer specializing in the emerging trends of telecommunications that provide solutions for small business and startups. For more information about his published work and list of services, visit www.tomsenkuswriter.com