In honor of all the National Holidays in our calendar, this page is dedicated to the many Weird & Wacky Holidays that we celebrate.
When is Flitch day? July 19 is Flitch Day.
What is a Flitch?
A flitch is measurement of bacon, equaling half a pig. (Flitch = side)
In the United States: A side of unsliced bacon was once known as a flitch- it is now known as a slab. An individual slice of bacon is a slice or strip.
What is this Holiday for?
An old English custom from long ago eventually turned into the holiday called Flitch Day, which is celebrated on July 19th. Every year on this day, since about 1104, any married couple who could prove they had been faithful and loving to one another for one year was awarded half a pig, known as a flitch of bacon. However, very few couples would actually "bring home the bacon!" There are still flitch trials today, but they are only held once every four years.
There are historical references to this day as far back as 1104, and it was a regular civic event in Dunmow by the late 1800's. Eventually, those who settled in America, brought the tradition with them.
Origin of this Holiday?
Our research did not find the creator, but we know that it does exzist because of actual events and customs in history. This holiday is referred to as a "National" day. However, we did not find any congressional records or presidential proclamations for this day.
Even though we didn't, this is still a holiday that is publicized to celebrate.
So have fun with it and celebrate it!
Great Dunmow is a town in the Uttlesford district of Essex, England. Originally the site of a Roman settlement on Stane Street, the town thrived during the Middle Ages. Many buildings survive from this period, including a sixteenth century town hall.
Four-yearly ritual of the Flitch Trials
The town is famous for its four-yearly ritual of the Flitch Trials, in which couples must convince a jury of six local bachelors and six local maidens that they have never wished themselves un-wed for a year and a day. If successful the couple are paraded through the High Street and receive a flitch of bacon. The last flitch trials were held in the town in the summer of 2004, with the next scheduled for 2008. The custom is ancient, and is mentioned in the Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales.
Custom of Giving a Flitch of Bacon
A custom of giving a flitch of bacon to any married couple who would swear that neither of them, in a year and a day, either sleeping or waking, repented of their marriage.
The actual words of the ancient rite
performed before a ‘judge’ in a mock court and a ‘jury’ of maidens and bachelors, require that in “twelvemonth and a day” both spouses have “not wish’t themselves unmarried again”.
The full pledge went:
You shall swear by custom of confession,
If ever you made nuptial trangresssion,
Be you either married man or wife,
If you have brawls or contentious strife
Or otherwise, at bed or at board,
Offended each other in deed or word:
Or, since the parish-clerk said Amen,
You wish’t yourselves unmarried agen,
Or in a twelvemonth and a day,
Repented not in thought any way,
But continued true in thought and desire
As when you join'd hands in the quire.
If to these conditions, without all feare,
Of your own accord you will freely swear,
A whole gammon of bacon you shall receive,
And bear it hence with love and good leave;
For this is our custom at Dunmow well knowne,
Though the pleasure be ours, the bacon’s your own.
The parties were to make their oath before the Prior and Convent and the whole town, humbly kneeling in the churchyard upon two hard, pointed stones. The ancient oath is still sworn today:
We do swear by custom of confession
That we ne’er made nuptial transgression,
Not since we were married man and wife,
By household brawles or contentious strife,
Or otherwise in bed or a boarde,
Offended each other in deed or in word,
Or in a twelve months and a day
Repented not in thought in any way.
Or since the church clerke said Amen
Wish’t yourselves unmarried agen,
But continue true and in desire,
As when you joyn'd hands 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.
Are you thinking of having a party or dinner to celebrate this holiday?