Monday, January 09, 2017

Happy Plough Monday

Today is Plough Monday, the first Monday after the feast of the Epiphany, when traditionally work started again after the twelve days of the Christmas feast. It was the start of the agricultural year, and people would follow a plough around their area looking for work, or asking for money if there was none. king for money if there was no work, sometimes dragging a plough with them. They might sing, dance or act out mummers plays hoping to gather enough contributions to take them through the hard times when the ground was frozen or too wet to work.

For many of us work is getting back into full swing at this point too. Life is returning to "normal", whatever that is!

For me that means tackling the annual returns to the  C of E of attendances, baptisms, weddings and funerals etc. which is always more complicated than it seems, and tedious beyond belief. There's a pile of paperwork to sort through, and I really need to get down to writing the Lent course we're going to do in more detail...(Sing to the Lord - something based around hymns - watch this space!) ...

What does your Plough Monday hold? Whatever it is, let's look for God in it! He's there in the boring things as well as the candlelight and glitter of Christmas (in fact that's really the point of Christmas - the Word becomes Flesh in the everyday things of life).

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

Howard Thurman (Howard Thurman, an African-American theologian, educator, and civil rights leader.)

And here's a song (two actually), from Magpie Lane to speed your "ploughing" along whatever it consists of... (It's an ancient and rather dark video, but the music is good!)

And here's a film about the Plough Monday celebrations in Maldon, which include the plough blessing in church and the procession with Molly Dancers. The cross-dressing and blacking up of faces was an ancient way of disguising your identity - you might not want your employers to know you were looking for "moonlighting" work. It's not related to the later "black-face minstrel" tradition in which white people imitates (and often mocked) people of colour, but a much older form of camouflage!

No comments:

Post a Comment