July 19:

 

July 19: Flitch Day

As far back as 1104 in Dunmow Priory, England, monks offered a side of bacon (flitch) to any married couple proving a year and a day after their wedding that they had lived in harmony and fidelity for the past year and had not wished they were single again.

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

The ancient oath of the flitch thus expressed in rhyme:

“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.”

When this oath was taken by each couple, it was the duty of the officer who administered it to reply:

“Since to these conditions, without any fear,
Of your own accord you do freely swear,
A whole flitch of bacon you shall receive,
And bear it hence with love and good leave;
For this is our custom at Dunmow well known
Though the pleasure be ours, the bacon’s your own.”

Read more about this celebration at http://www.footprints.org/5-000107.htm

 

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