Yes, you read that right: Flitch. Not flinch, not twitch, not fetch, not flit (as in to flit and float). What is a flitch, you might ask? Well, it’s a side of cured, salted pork – so basically bacon. As interesting as that new word is, there’s a more interesting tradition that goes along with it!
As far back as 1104 in Dunmow Priory, England monks offered a flitch to any married couple that proves they have been happy and faithful for a year and a day after their wedding. A very interesting way to encourage happy marriages, I suppose. Here’s some more interesting information that is worth copying straight in!
“The court is held in a marquee erected on Talberds Ley especially for the occasion and couples (claimants) married for at least a year and a day come from far and wide to try and claim the Flitch. It is not a competition between the couples. All couples could be successful in their claim, which is vigorously defended by Counsel employed on behalf of the Donors of the Bacon, whose job it is to test their evidence and to try and persuade the Jury not to grant them the Flitch.”
“Successful couples are then carried shoulder high by bearers (humble folk) in the ancient Flitch Chair to the Market Place where they take the oath (similar to pre-Reformation marriage vows) kneeling on pointed stones. Unsuccessful couples have to walk behind the empty chair to the Market Place, consoled with a prize of gammon.”
When I’ve been married for a year and a day I am definitely going to track down this flitch competition and plead my case because I want a free side of bacon and a free ride on the shoulders of the humble folk through town!