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Saturday, 24 April 2010

What is the Dunmow Flitch?

The Dunmow Flitch
Great Dunmow is a lovely town in the county of Essex, UK.  What is a flitch? Well, in this case at least, it's a side of bacon that is awarded to a married couple in a ceremony that takes place in the town every leap year. So the next one is in 2012.
It is awarded to a couple who "in twelvemonth and a day have not wisht themselves unmarried again"!
There are many stories about the true origins but it was mentioned by Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales (The Wife of Bath's Tale).
An American couple whio won in 2004
The first recorded recipient was Richard Wright in 1445 (strangely, her name is not recorded). There is evidence that there could have been 12th century awards.
The award was discontinued and reinstated several times but has been fairly constant during this century.
After WW2 a side of bacon was sent by New Zealand, presumably because it was in short supply here.
Formerly chosen by the Lord of the Manor, these days the couple are chosen by a jury.
There was a heated debate in 2006 when it was proposed that gays be considered for the award.
A jury of 6 maidens and 6 batchelors!
A member of the organising committee has said "We have not yet had a Jewish, Muslim or Sikh couple apply, but we are such a diverse society that there is no reason why that day should not come."
Really? I'm not sure about Sikhs, but what would Jews or Muslims do with a side of bacon?

15 comments:

Ton Eagerley said...

Bazza, I would love to enter that competition. I would give the prize to Gary at the 'kalhanie' blog; he likes bacon.
The slight probem is that I'm not allowed within 500 feet of my wife. Slight problem with drunken loutish behaviour apparently!
Whachagonnado?

bazza said...

Tom: I think you meant 'klahanie'. As usual, very droll. Maybe it's time to clean up your act, dry out and get a nice cosy blog?
On second thoughts that doesn't sound like you!

klahanie said...

Hi bazza,
Another fascinating and informative story.
In fact, I know a new word. I had never heard of 'flitch' before.
Me thinkest in his eagerness to come up with a witty response; our new friend got all flustered on the keyboard. This might explain his misspelling of my blog name.
Take good care, Gary aka 'klahanie'

bazza said...

Gary: I don't think you will be able to drop the word 'flitch' into your conversation very much.
The mispelling of your name could be something to do with the whiskey he claims to have for breakfast.

Bob said...

Customs like this reveal quite a bit about human nature.

What a strange lot we humans are!

Tom Eagerley said...

Bob, it's a sensational development to learn that you are human just like I claim to be.

bazza said...

Bob: The idea that it probably started nine hundred years ago is fascinating for me. I think public celebration was the only kind available in those days but it’s a quaint custom.

Tom: You are too, too cheeky! I can see the doubts about yourself but Bob is a top-drawer guy!

Bob said...

Tom

Sometimes I put on a front of being a together person.

Karl Marx said...

Tom Eagerley

Your light-heartedness reminds me of my youth. Later in life I grew out of this and wrote a book called Das Kapital. It's surprising what one can achieve with a little effort.

With very best wishes,
Karl

Tom Eagerley said...

Firstly, I hope bazza doesn’t mind too much if I monopolise his blog but I am obviously more interesting than him.
Now. To address my fans. To Bob I say this; you, sir, are a decent type and bazza is quite right about you I would say. Creating a persona with which to face the world is a bona fide coping strategy. Well done you!
To Karl Mark I would say that I am delighted that you have managed to write a book but, for me, your greatest achievement was when you teamed up with Earl Spencer to create those wonderful Marx & Spencer stores.

bazza said...

Well Tom, whenever the appropriate authorities see fit to let you have a blog of your own we will all be sure to visit.
Meanwhile, make yourself at home.
What? You already have? Oh, OK.

Groucho Marx said...

Sir Tom Eagerley Esquire

Don't take any notice of Karl. He's a pompous windbag and his ideas have caused a fair bit of trouble in some parts of the world.

Have a good day.

Groucho

Motley Rage said...

Groucho, is Karl your dad?

Kelly said...

Ha ha. that's true, what would Jews do with a side of bacon. I've never heard of 'flitch' before. Kinda cool that an American couple won the side of bacon. I'm American, you know. :-)

That's a very old celebration that sounds fun and causes no harm to anyone, unlike the religious Spanish festivals that go on throughout the year. My wife and I would participate in something like this if it was closer.

Take care, Bazza.

bazza said...

Karl, your son Groucho and Motley:: Thanks for the laughs. This blog wouldn't be the same without you.
It would be good!

Kelly: Yes, mate. I kinda figured you were American. I live in Essex myself and have been to Dunmow but never seen the 'Flitch'.
Maybe in 2012 if it doesn't clash with the Olympics!