Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Flitch Day

The holiday of Flitch Day began with an old, old custom thought to date back to the year 1104 in Little Dunmow, England.

A flitch of bacon (flitch = side) is awarded as prize for any married couple who could prove to a jury of bachelors and maidens that they had lived together in harmony and fidelity for the past year and had not wished themselves "unmarried". Very few have brought home the bacon.

The ancient oath of the flitch is 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."

Is this the origin of "bringing home the bacon"? Perhaps.

Any holiday where you parade bacon down the street is alright in my book.

We should really think about bringing this tradition to the states.

The Dunmow Flitch Trials are still held every four years in Great Dunmow, Essex, England and the next trials are July 12, 2008.

The history is really interesting, you can read more about it here and even buy tickets to view the event in person! If I was in England, I would definitely go check this out.


  1. Love the parading bacon and the idea of a bacon holiday, thanks for sharing this. The latest issue (Beltane 2008) of The AntiCraft (http://www.theanticraft.com/this.htm) is also focused on bacon, England and holidays (OK, the last two are a bit of a stretch except that there IS a bacon Stonehenge). The highlights for me were the bacon gingerbread house and a bacon tiara.

  2. I found a supposed English tradition about where "bringing home the bacon" came from, too:

    In 12th century England, a village church offered a side of pork to any man who could swear that he had not quarreled with his wife for a year and a day. Men and women alike had great respect for any man who could “bring home the bacon.”

    Your research is a wee bit more detailed than mine.