Roc Day or St. Distaff's Day is a northern European tradition dating back to at least the early 1600's. That is when British poet Robert Herrick wrote "Saint Distaffs day, or the Morrow After Twelfth Day" explaining the tradition and frivolity of Roc Day. The word roc is German for distaff which refers to the tools of spinning but also to women's work in general and therefore to a woman herself.
Saint Distaffs Day, of the Morrow After Twelfth Day
By Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
Partly work and partly play
You must on St. Distaff's Day
From the plough soon free your team
Then come home and fother them
If the maids a-spinning go,
Burn the flax and fire the tow.
Bring in pails of water then,
Let the maids bewash the men.
Give St. Distaff all the night,
Then bid Christmas sport good night,
And next morrow every one
To his own vocation
The tradition was for women to return to their household duties on January 7th, the day after the feast of Epiphany which marked the last of the twelve days of Christmas. The men returned to work on Plough Monday, the first Monday following Epiphany. The men tended to harrass the women on their first day back to work but it was particularly riotous In the years when Plough Monday occured on January 7th.
The men would try to set the spinner's flax on fire but the women were always prepared with buckets of cold water to douse the flames and of course, the men.
In this tradition of getting back to one's spinning after Christmas, spinners and weavers often meet for a party near January 7th. Our lives are very different now than they would have been in the 1600's but having a happy, laughter filled get together after all the Christmas decorations are put away is a good thing.
Please stop by the studio if you are in the area this weekend. We will be open our regular hours on Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm. Sunday January 8th is our Roc Day celebration, also from 10 am to 4 pm. We would love to see you!