Summer Solstice Arrives

Monday, January 12, 2009

Plough Monday

I grew up on small rural farm south of Seattle and I remember my Granpa keeping bees, raising chickens for selling eggs, and he also stabled a horse in the old garage/barn. (By the time I was four or five, the horse was gone, but he continued to raise chickens and keep bees).

Since we also had an orchard with many kinds of fruit trees (apples, pears, plums, cherry) and we kept up a large garden with corn, squash, tomatoes and vegetables, I spent many hours after school working to help my parents maintain our small bit of heaven.

And with my mum's father's ancestors having come to Canada on the ship Hector in 1773 following the Highland Clearances and my father's ancestors hailing from England, I and my sister grew up with a rich heritage, both spoken and sung, of the British Isles.

Here's bit of lore from an earlier time reflecting a more slow and attentive connection to the Earth and the turning of the seaons.

The first Monday after Twelfth Night is Plough Monday, a day when ploughmen traditionally blackened their faces and marked the end of the Christmas period for the agricultural communities.

As agricultural work was scarce in the winter, farm labourers disguised themselves, by blacking their faces with soot, to get money by dragging a decorated plough around the larger houses in the villages. As they dragged the plough they would shout out "Penny for the ploughboys!".


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