Plough Monday

Where: Countrywide but especially in East Midlands & East Anglia
When: Monday after 6th January
Time: All day

 

Plough Monday is the name given to the first Monday after January 6th, and it marked the resumption of agricultural work after the Christmas festivities. In some areas of England it was common for the farm labourers to tour the villages with their plough in a money-raising trip, perhaps with singing, mumming plays and dancing or even parading a Straw Bear; the participants commonly disguised themselves with costumes or by blacking their faces with soot, perhaps so that they could not be identified if they ploughed up the gardens of householders unwilling to make contributions. The areas in which the celebrations were most common were in the east midlands and East Anglia and it is in this area today that most of the revivals are carried out, often on a weekend in early to mid January (see Calendar Tables for more details). It was also common for church cermonies involving blessing the plough to take place either on Plough Monday or the Sunday immediately before and some of these have also been revived.

Helpful Hints

The Whittlesey Straw Bear Festival is a direct descendant of the Plough Monday customs, and there are revivals with a variety of names, often performed by local morris dancers. Look out for Plough Jags, Stots, Witchers and Bullockers (see separate listings under table of  Variable Dates in January) and Old Glory (see Cutty Wren) also perform on Plough Monday. There are numerous other celebrations of Plough Monday (too many to list all on this site) – many of the Plough Play performances can be found at http://www.mastermummers.org

As well as performances of plays, many places have a Blessing the Plough service, often held on the Sunday just before Plough Monday (examples can be found at Durham and Exeter Cathedrals as well as parishes throughout the country).

Double-check date details of events linked to Plough Monday as some organisers stick strictly to the Monday following 6th January while others sometimes drift to the following week.

In 2018 Plough Monday falls on Monday January 8th.

Click here for more info : http://www.ploughmonday.co.uk/

Click here for Old Glory: http://old-glory.org.uk/index.htm

Photo by Anguskirk.