This old English custom dates back to 1104. Married couples that could prove they had been faithful to one another and never wished themselves unwed would receive a flitch of bacon from the local monks. A flitch was half a pig, which we now call a slab.
The flitch wasn’t easy to claim. The couple had to prove their love and fidelity before a jury of bachelors and maidens. Here’s the pledge the couple had to take.
You shall swear by custom of confession,
If ever you made nuptial trangresssion,
Be you either married man or wife,
If you have brawls or contentious strife
Or otherwise, at bed or at board,
Offended each other in deed or word:
Or, since the parish-clerk said Amen,
You wish’t yourselves unmarried agen,
Or in a twelvemonth and a day,
Repented not in thought any way,
But continued true in thought and desire
As when you join’d hands in the quire.
If to these conditions, without all feare,
Of your own accord you will freely swear,
A whole gammon of bacon you shall receive,
And bear it hence with love and good leave;
For this is our custom at Dunmow well knowne,
Though the pleasure be ours, the bacon’s your own.
The Flitch Trials are now only held every 4 years in Great Dunmow, Essex, England. To accommodate weekend availability, this year the Flitch Trial was held on the Saturday prior to July 19th. The following couples successfully ‘claimed the bacon’ on Saturday 14 July 2012: Mr & Mrs Steve & Pat Schorah (Great Dunmow), Mr & Mrs Dave & Sue Gilham (Spain), Mr & Mrs John & Helen Wright (Great Dunmow), Mr Matthew Harrington & Ms Julie Lovell (Dubbo, Australia, now resident in Dulwich, London). Winners of the Gammon: Mr & Mrs Roderic & Anna Buttimore (Southend).
It’s too late for this year (plus I’d have to get them to England) but if I could I would nominate my dear friends Becky and Herlin Woolery. They are an inspiration, seeing their relationship and the love they share for each other after more than 35 years of wedded bliss. After knowing them for twenty years, I can attest that the love and marriage they share is true, honest and good. To all the happily married couples out there; today is for you. Who do you know that you can nominate for your own Flitch Day?