On National Picnic day, we wonder why do we Brits have a tradition of picnics given all this rain we have.

Picnic with Hay Hampers

We Brits do love a picnic, maybe it is because we know the true value of a beautiful day with them being a much rarer occasion here! But, given this rarity and the peculiarity of how much we really love a picnic despite this, we thought we would do a little digging into the history of the picnic and how far back our national love for it goes.

It is generally agreed that the English word picnic comes from the French Pique-nique, which directly translated means to pick (verb -piquer) small things (nique). The word is believed to have first appeared in the 1600s.

However, outdoor meals were probably enjoyed by the wealthy classes from the Middle-ages when hunting parties involved feasts, as depicted in artwork of the period such as the Bayeux Tapestry.

The seminal book on cooking by Mrs Beeton, written in the Victorian era, included detailed instructions on how to prepare for a picnic. For 40 people, she recommended (among other things): cold roast beef, four meat pies, four roast chickens, two roast ducks, four dozen cheesecakes and one large cold plum pudding, three dozen quart bottles of beer were on the menu, as well as claret, sherry and brandy. Which sounds like a jolly fun time to us!

These items don’t often appear in a present day picnic. Asking around the office, here are some of the favourites of the Hay Hamper elves; sausage rolls, cold rice salad with frankfurter and pickles, pork pie and piccalilli, homemade asparagus and goats cheese quiche, lemon blondie brownies, sliced chilled watermelon, cold beers and Sicilian lemonade.