Flitch Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated annually on July 19. It dates back to an ancient custom that saw married couples earning a flitch of bacon by proving the strength of their union after a year. The couple would stand trial to prove their love and faithfulness to each other after a year and a day of their marriage, and, if successful, they were given a flitch of bacon as an award. While this tradition is no longer actively practiced, it is still celebrated every three to four years at the Dunmow Flitch Trials.
History of Flitch Day
While the exact origins of Flitch Day remain unknown, we do know the original tradition started in 1104, when Reginald Fitzwalter and his wife, the lord and lady of a manor, disguised themselves as commoners and sought the blessing of the prior at the local priory for their marriage. Impressed with their devotion to each other, the prior gave them a flitch of bacon.
This gave rise to the custom in which married couples were awarded a flitch of bacon if they did not regret their marriage after a year and a day. The couple would undergo a mock trial to prove their love and, if they succeeded, they were awarded a flitch of bacon — about half a pig. This custom took place in Wychnor, Staffordshire, and Little Dunmow in England.
In Little Dunmow, married couples would prove that neither one of them regretted their marriage in the previous year and a day and then would kneel in the churchyard on two hard and pointed stones. They would proceed to take an oath in front of monks and the town inhabitants. Once they succeeded, they were awarded a flitch of bacon and paraded around the town. This custom went on till the mid-18th century. Now, the flitch trials, organized by the Dunmow Flitch Trials Committee, are still held in Great Dunmow, England, but only in a leap year. It is said that Little Dunmow is the only location to have preserved this custom to date. Although the custom made its way into the United States by colonists, it did not survive for a long time.
The celebrations for National Flitch Day do not involve a trial and are just a reminder and acknowledgment of the tradition.
Flitch Day timeline
The custom is mentioned in “The Canterbury Tales.”
Sir Thomas May revives the tradition when he becomes the owner of a priory.
The last successful claim for a flitch of bacon is made
William Harrison Ainsworth writes a novel “The Flitch Of Bacon” that calls for a revival of the custom.
Flitch Day FAQs
What does a ‘flitch of bacon’ mean?
The side of a pig or any other animal that is salted and cured is normally known as a flitch of bacon
How big is a flitch of bacon?
A flitch of bacon is half a pig, cut sideways, and it is where bacon slices come from
What part of the pig makes bacon?
Bacon comes from a pig’s belly, back or sides, typically the parts that have high-fat content. Different countries consume a particular part more than others, such as in the United Kingdom, back bacon is common, while Americans consume more side bacon, which is cut from a pork belly.
Flitch Day Activities
Read “The Flitch of Bacon”
On National Flitch Day, read “The Flitch of Bacon'' by William Harrison Ainsworth. It will help you immerse yourself in the history of the tradition and learn more about it. You can then even share this knowledge with your folks and friends and spread awareness of this day.
Gift a slab of bacon
Since the day celebrates an old custom of gifting a slab of bacon to a married couple, you could do so yourself. If you have friends who are married and they have reached a year and a day of their marriage, gift them a slab of bacon to celebrate. You can even make it fun by hosting a contest in which they can rightfully win the bacon.
Attend the Dunmow Flitch Trials
This event generally takes place during leap years, so you can plan your dates accordingly. Whenever there is a leap year, you can attend the Dunmow Flitch Trials and see married couples winning a slab of bacon.
5 Interesting Facts About Bacon That Will Blow Your Mind
The first cooked salted pork bellies
The Chinese first started cooking salted pork bellies and the salt helped to preserve the meat so it could be eaten all year
Bacon is addictive
Bacon is packed with a compound that produces a pleasing neurochemical response when you eat it, making it addictive.
In the U.S., 70% of all bacon is eaten at breakfast
Gateway food for vegetarians
Bacon is often regarded as the gateway food for vegetarians.
World record for eating the most bacon
An American man Matt Stonie holds the world record for eating the most bacon — 182 slices in five minutes at an event in Daytona Florida.
Why We Love Flitch Day
It celebrates a tradition
National Flitch Day essentially celebrates an age-old tradition in which a married couple was awarded a flitch of bacon after a year and a day of their marriage. This day celebrates culture and custom, and it’s important to expand our knowledge about our history and pass that knowledge down through generations.
It celebrates a favorite food item
Bacon is loved by millions of people across the globe and people swear by it. While National Flitch Day celebrates a tradition, it also encourages us to celebrate a beloved food item
It celebrates marriage
The flitch tradition is essentially for married couples and National Flitch Day celebrates that. It celebrates the sacred bond of marriage and encourages people to honor the commitment they made to their significant other.
Flitch Day dates