Plough Monday, usually the Monday following 6 January, was the start of the agricultural year. And, of course, any excuse for a party!
In NE England, a plough would be dragged around the town to raise funds for the parish (and if you refused to pay up, your front path would be ploughed up). In the Scilly Isles, there would be cross-dressing, joking, drinking and revelry. In Norfolk, Plough Pudding (a suet pudding with meat and onions) is cooked and eaten on Plough Monday.
Harrison Ainsworth, in his novel Mervyn Clitheroe, described it thus:
"The FOOL PLOUGH goes about: a pageant consisting of a number of sword dancers dragging a plough, with music; one, sometimes two, in very strange attire; the Bessy, in the grotesque habit of an old woman, and the Fool, almost covered with skins, a hairy cap on, and the tail of some animal hanging from his back. The office of one of these characters, in which he is very assiduous, is to go about rattling a box amongst the spectators of the dance, in which he receives their little donations."
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