Jan 7, 2010

Love and celebrate your fiber on Distaff Day

The spinning wheel waits

Today is as close as I know of to a yarn-spinners’ holiday. It’s Roc Day, also known as Distaff Day or St. Distaff’s Day — and it was an odd sort of holiday, once upon a time. That is, it really marked the end of the winter holidays in a lot of European traditions: The day when, after the twelve days of Christmas, people went back to work. Specifically, spinners got back to work making yarn to be woven into all the good stuff we like to use in polite society, like linens, clothing, and tablecloths. (Apparently, women didn’t traditionally spin during the Christmas holidays. Sounds a bit like school holidays today. ;))

The holiday (or un-holiday?) is named after the distaff used to hold fiber near the spinning wheel, a.k.a. the rock, or apparently roc — it’s not just a mythical creature any more! Traditional activities included plowmen setting fire to the unspun flax fiber — how considerate ;) — and women throwing buckets of water at said plowmen as a convenient way of putting out the fire. Funny. (And darn cold, since most of Europe at this time of year isn’t exactly balmy.)

No fire-setting or water-throwing for me today, but in honor of Distaff Day, I’m doing a little more of that window shopping I love so much. (Anyone else notice that “window shopping” completely translates to computers? As in, “Let me open a new window and visit Etsy?") And of course I’ll be sitting down at the spinning wheel, as soon as I can make up my mind which of my fluffies look the most like they want to be transformed into yummy yarn.

There's also a Roc Day celebration at Heritage Village this weekend. I tried to find the spinners there last year, but the darn place is big and fascinating and I got up late … so I missed the spinning wheels and the fiber. Hopefully the spinning gods (or the nonexistent St. Distaff) will smile on me this year.

Do you have a Roc Day tradition? Post comments, send pictures! Or start a new tradition! How did you spend your Roc Day?


Roc Day PDF, Apple Leef Farms
Distaff Day entry, Wikipedia
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