(Also known as Roc Day, Rock Day, Saint Distaff's Day, St. Distaff's Day)
Distaff Day is observed next on Sunday, January 7th, 2024 (103 days from today).
Taking place on the day after the Epiphany and celebrating on January 7th, Distaff Day is an informal holiday in Catholic countries that began and was widely observed in pre-industrial Europe. It marks the return to work for women after the end of the Christmas season, a time known as the Twelve Christmas Days. Distaff Day is also known as Roc Day, Rock Day, or Saint Distaff's Day and St. Distaff's Day. You can use any names to call it.
Spinning wool, cotton or flax was just the only way to create this pre-factory fabric and was a symbol of women's work. A Distaff, also known as a rock, is a wooden stick that is placed under the arm and where the material is hung. The material is pulled from it to a spindle, underneath is dangled and rotated to twist the material into yarn. The thread is then retained by wrapping it around the distribution shaft and the spindle. A distaff is also used to hold material on the spinning wheels. Like self-rotation, distaff became synonymous with women's work. The woman in the family is even called "the distaff side".
In this era, women spent the whole evening spinning clothes after completing other tasks for the day, often bringing the reel to a friend's house and chatting while working. Women of all classes of life are expected to spin. On Distaff Day, they will carry their spindle for the day and work will continue, including spinning.
However, a day isn't all about serious work. Men and women often play pranks during that time. For example, men try to light their wives' lies with fire, while women throw buckets of water at their husbands.
There is a similar day called Plough Monday when men have to return to work, traditionally taking place on the first Monday after Epiphany. Sometimes it lands on the same day as Distaff Day. Although Distaff Day no longer serves a practical purpose as it did many centuries ago, it is still practiced by some. For example, as part of New Year celebrations and Distaff Day, some modern craft groups celebrate together to observe.
The origin of Distaff Day
The day after the Epiphany (January 6) is traditionally the day when women return to work 12 days after Christmas. A distaff is a wooden stick (staff) that holds linen or wool on a spinning wheel. The term distaff is used to refer to the work of the woman and the female branch (the distaff party) in the household. As usual, it's hard to get back to work after the vacation and not get much done! The wives' husbands will mischievously try to light up flax seeds for their wives, while the women, waiting, will comically retaliate by pouring them a bucket of water. Robert Herrick has written in his poem "St Distaff's Day or the Morrow After Twelfth Night":
If the maids a-spinning goe
Burn their flax and fire their tow.
Bring the pails of water then
Let the maids bewash the men.
By the way, St Distaff was not actually a person or a saint, a 'distaff' was an implement used for spinning.
How to Observe Distaff Day
This date can be observed by learning to rotate with a spindle and spindle. Women filmed in pre-industrial Europe, but today both men and women can shoot. You can even join a craft group and check if they're hosting a Distaff Day meeting. While not recommended, you can spend the day indulging in pranks as traditionally do, including lighting material on a distaff and pouring a bucket of water on a lit person. If you're less adventurous, you can read Robert Herrick's poem as mentioned above.
ObservedDistaff Day has been observed annually on January 7th.
Friday, January 7th, 2022
Saturday, January 7th, 2023
Sunday, January 7th, 2024
Tuesday, January 7th, 2025
Wednesday, January 7th, 2026