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Plough Monday

Plough Monday is the first Monday after Twelfth Night. It was an important and fun day for farm workers.

image: ploughmen

As agricultural work was scarce in the winter, farm labourers disguised themselves, by blacking their faces with soot, to get money by dragging a decorated plough around the larger houses in the villages. As they dragged the plough they would shout out "Penny for the plough boys!". 

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Blessing of the Ploughs

In medieval times it was common for ploughs to be blessed by the church on Plough Sunday. Farmers resumed their work on Plough Monday after the 12 days of Christmas.

Plough Monday Plays

Plough Monday plays were popular in parts of Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands. They were similar to that of Christmas Mummers Plays in that they were performed by young men and included some of the same story elements, such as the death and resurrection of one of the characters.

Molly Dancers

Molly dancing is most commonly performed on or around Plough Monday.

In the past, Molly dancers sometimes accompanied the farm labourers to dance and entertain for money. They blackened their faces with soot to disguise themselves so they could not be recognised by their future employers.

imge: Molly


Twelfth Night

Twelfth Day

Twelve Days of Christmas

Christmas Mummers Plays


Also on this day ........

Burning of the Clavie - Fire Festival

The people of a small fishing village in Scotland, ignore the fact that the calendar was changed in 1752, and hold their special New Year's Eve Festivities on the old calendar date 11 January.

The 'Clavie' which gives the festival its name is made from half a barrel nailed to a 6ft long pole used in salmon fishing and known as the 'spoke'. By tradition the nail must be hammered in with a stone, as iron in the form of a hammer is never used. Staves from a cask used to hold herrings are secured to the spoke in order to make a cage to fit over the bearer's head. The clavie contains peat which is set on fire by the Clavie King and it is taken through the streets by a succession of bearers.

The copyright on this image is owned by Anne Burgess and is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

image: Clavie

11 January 1994: The Duchess of Kent announced that she was converting to Catholicism, the first member of the Royal Family to become a Roman Catholic since James II in the 17th century.


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