Contributed by: Toni Rasmussen
A tradition that started in 1104 in England helped to keep some couples’ piggy banks more full. Happy couples were rewarded with food for living in harmony. Not just any food, but flitch of course! Flitch is another term for a side of bacon. If the couple had been married without regretting their vows the past year and a day, they were eligible to participate in Flitch Day.
Many couples came from all around to prove that they did not wish to be single again. More than one couple could earn flitch if a counsel determined they were worthy. Once the couples were chosen, the common folk shouldered the Flitch Chairs and carried the couples to the marketplace. The peaceful couples knelt on pointy rocks (“Bloody Mary!” “I thought your wife’s name was Elizabeth?”). They then took an oath that was similar to their marriage vows. The couples deemed unhappy had to walk behind an empty Flitch Chair to the marketplace. However, they still received a consolation prize of gammon, a hind leg of pork.
Some areas of the world still celebrate this tradition. In England, it is celebrated every four years on July 19th. The next Flitch Day will be in July of 2016.
My guess is that the couples who lived in a “pigsty” were not determined to be happily wed. They walked behind the empty chair with the other couples grumbling at their significant other things like, “You lard,” “You’re a filthy pig,” and “Stop ‘swining'”.