Plough or Lost Monday: Back to work

Macclesfield Psalter (14th-century)

Today, the Monday after The Epiphany, is known as Plough Monday since it was the day workers returned to the land after the twelve day Christmas holiday.

They did so slowly by spending this first working day dressing up and touring around villages collecting money. Some of this went to the parish church.

In Belgium today is called Lost Monday because people used to postpone the return to work by a day by finishing the feasting.

By tradition some people in Tournai will share a rabbit and prune casserole and, still in the Epiphany spirit, elect a king for the party.

In Antwerp the bakers’ windows are this morning filled with sausage rolls and apples baked in pastry.

Plough Monday is mostly still observed in East Anglia.

At lunchtime today schoolchildren will welcome the straw bear outside Ramsey Abbey gateway in Cambridgeshire.

In the evening the Norfolk village of Northwold will hold a torch lit procession with musicians to follow the plough to St Andrew’s Church.

In the City of London the return to office work will be marked at 5.30pm by a Plow Monday (local spelling) service at St Lawrence Jewry.

The Lord Mayor is attending whilst the Sheriffs will be joining the Feltmakers’ Company for a Plow Monday dinner.

This is not as far from the land and one might think. The Corporation of London cares for Epping Forest and its countryside in Surrey includes some ploughed fields.

This year Plough Monday coincides the Baptism of The Lord day in places where The Epiphany was kept yesterday rather than on Saturday, .

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