The Dunmow Flitch
Ancient custom of marital bliss
This quaint ancient ceremony is an annual event in Little Dunmow, Essex, England. The custom died out in 1772 but has been revived at various times.
A married couple would present themselves to town authorities for the trials; if they could prove that they had lived for twelve months without ever wishing, either awake or asleep, that they weren’t married, they would receive a gammon or flitch of bacon – half a pig, also known as a side of bacon. Or, as the British clergyman and antiquary, John Brand (1744 - 1806), put it in his classic Observations on the popular antiquities of Great Britain: Including the Whole of Mr. Bourne's 'Antiquitates Vulgares' (1777):
A custom formerly prevailed, and has indeed been recently observed at Dunmow, in Essex 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" ...
Categories: uk, calendar-customs