The UK is full of quaint festivals that feature weird traditions from hundreds of years ago. The Gloucester cheese roll comes to mind. But the tradition of throwing pennies to the masses in Honiton, a town in East Devon, harks back to a horrifying past. Honiton had a celebration after being granted a Royal Charter in the year 1221, which became an annual festival. In the early days, the landed gentry would climb to the upper stories of its buildings and throw hot chestnuts to the poor people below. This was soon changed to hot pennies, because the elite found it amusing to see desperate people scramble for the pennies and risk burning their hands to catch them. It wouldn’t be the only time a horrific show of abuse was turned into a beloved tradition. Tom Scott made it to Honiton this year to witness the Honiton Hot Pennies ceremony for himself.
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