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Plough Monday

Plough Monday (the first Monday after twelfth night or Epiphany) is historically the day which marked the end of the Christmas period for the agricultural communities in the eastern counties of England. It was an occasion for plough gangs, who would be disguised, usually by blacking their faces, to procure money or largesse by dragging a decorated plough around the larger houses in the parish, with the cry of "Penny for the ploughboys!".  It was said that if you did not contribute even one penny, you would find a furrow ploughed across your lawn in the morning. There may also be gangs of Molly dancers, sometimes accompanying the plough gangs. Before the Reformation, the Church sanctioned the collection of money, some of which went toward providing the plough-light, maintained by the ploughmen's guild in the parish church. This usually took the form of a candle or rush-light, placed before the altar, whose flame was never allowed to go out.

Following the traditional Blessing of the Plough at Rumburgh church on the previous Sunday at 3.00 pm, Old Glory celebrate Plough Monday at the Rumburgh Buck at 8.30 pm. You will see our plough, decorated with white ribbons and rosettes, dragged along the road from the church to the inn, followed by a display of Molly dances, the toasting of the plough, the singing of a Plough Monday song and the ceremonial burning of greenery collected from the musicians’ hats by the Ivy-man, marking the end of our seasonal programme of public dancing displays in Suffolk.