Daily Archives: July 19, 2011

Today in History…Happy Flitch Day!

The Flitch of Bacon

What’s Flitch Day, you ask?  An old custom started by monks in Dunmow Priory, England (probably around 1104) has become the holiday we now call Flitch Day.  Once a year, a slab of bacon was given to any married couple who could prove they have lived in harmony and fidelity for the past twelve months.  It appeared that very few couples actually “took home the bacon.”

“The court was held in a marquee erected on Talberds Ley, especially for the occasion.  Couples that had been married for at least a year and a day came from far and wide to try and claim the Flitch.  This was not a competition between the couples. All couples could be successful in their claim, which was vigorously defended by Counsel employed on behalf of the Donors of the Bacon, whose job it was to test their evidence and to try and persuade the Jury not to grant them the Flitch.”  Sounds like a new reality TV show in the works…

“Successful couples were then carried shoulder high by bearers (humble folk) in the ancient Flitch Chair to the Market Place where they would take the oath (similar to pre-Reformation marriage vows) kneeling on pointed stones. Unsuccessful couples had to walk behind the empty chair to the Market Place, consoled with a prize of gammon.”

You can celebrate Flitch Day today by cooking up some bacon for your hubby (or hubby-ess).  If you want to go all out and kneel on stones while reciting the oath, I commend you.  Here’s the oath, should you be so enclined.

“We do swear by custom of confession
That we ne’re made nuptial transgression
Nor since we were married man and wife
By household brawl or contentious strife,
Or otherwise at bed or board,
Offended each other in deed or word;
Or since the parish clerk said amen,
Wished ourselves unmarried again;
Or in a twelvemonth and a day
Repented in thought in any way,
But continue true and in desire
As when we joined in holy quire.”

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