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Plough Monday & St Distaff's Day.

The traditional Start of the agriculture new year.

"When four o'clock comes, then we do rise

And off to our stable we merrily flies

With rubbing and scrubbing our horses I'll vow

That we're all jolly fellows that follow the plough".

All Jolly Fellowes That Follow The Plough - Traditional

Today is what is traditionally known in Britain as Plough Monday. It falls on the first Monday after twelfth night on January 6th. Traditionally, this was the day that the men went back into the fields to work after Christmas.

Throughout Britain there would be celebrations taking place around Plough Sunday and Plough Monday.

These included the blessing of the plough by the church on Plough Sunday, Plough Monday plays and Molly Dancers.

In the winter months, agricultural work was scarce so workers would blacken their faces with soot (not to be recognized) and go around the villages pulling their decorated ploughs shouting "Penny for the Plough Boys".

A lesser known historical event in the British calendar occurred on January 7th, St Distaffs Day. Traditionally this day was when women resumed house hold work after the twelve days of Christmas and when Spinners of all fibers would go back to work.

A distaff is a tool used by spinners to hold the fiber out of the way or to have the fiber within easy reach when spinning wool or flax into thread. though less commonly used today, distaffs can come in a form of a bracelet, a cuff or a finger ring and some can be tucked into your waistband some both hands are free. Some weaving looms still come with distaffs, these include the Ashford Traditional and Kromski Minstrel

One of the bazaar things about St Distaff's Day is that there is no St Distaff.

Perhaps St Distaff's Day is aptly summed up in a 1664 poem by Robert Herrick:

Saint Distaff's Day, or the morrow after Twelfth Day

Partly worke and partly play

Ye must on St Distaff's Day

From the plough soone free your team;

Then come home and fother them.

If the maides a-spinning goe,

Burne the flax, and fire the tow: Scorch their plackets, but beware

That ye singe no maiden-haire.

Let the maides bewash the men.

Give St Distaff all the right, then bid Christmas sport good night;

And next morrow, everyone

To his own vocation.

Today, some weaving and spinner craft groups still celebrate this day.

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