Is your local fiber shop having a party for Distaff Day or Rock Day? Spinners are everywhere you look, including religion and mythology. Distaff’s Day (also known as Rock Day) is the day when spinners go back to work after the holidays.
Origin of Distaff
Celebrated on the first Monday (January 7) after Epiphany, is the day on which things would return to normal after the Twelve Days of Christmas and people would return to work. St Distaff’s Day was the traditional day for women to resume their spinning. This day wasn’t just about work, it was also fun. The young men would try to steal the women’s flax and tow to burn them, while the women retaliated by soaking the men with water.
What’s a Distaff?
A distaf is a tool used to hold fiber so that the spinner can easily reach it or keep it out of the way. Distaffs are less common in spinning today than in centuries past when most flax-spinning wheels had an attached distaff. You can still see them, though. Some distaffs you wear: a distaff may be a metal bracelet, a knitted cuff, or a shaft with a ring for your finger. In the 16th century, the books of popular writer William Shakespeare popularized ‘distaff’ as a word that refers to women.
How to observe Distaff Day?
Women of all classes would spend their evenings spinning on the wheel. During the day, they would carry a drop spindle with them. Spinning was the only means of turning raw wool, cotton, or flax into thread, which could then be woven into cloth. It would be a great idea to encourage someone to teach the use of distaaff and to flaunt your skills as well.
The Importance of celebrating Distaff Day
The distaff is a great piece of equipment for women in the textile industry. It’s an empowering and irrefutable tool in making clothes. One should laud the hard work of women and their contributions to the clothing, beauty, and fashion industry. One should have consistent practice when using the distaff. It promotes that skillfulness and the ability to open oneself to innovative things and versatility.
Distaff Day poem composed by Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
Partly work and partly play
You must on St. Distaffs Day:
From the plough soon free your team;
Then cane home and fother them:
If the maids a-spinning go,
Burn the flax and fire the tow.
Bring in pails of water then,
Let the maids bewash the men.
Give St. Distaff’ all the right:
Then bid Christmas sport good night,
And next morrow every one
To his own vocation.