A day to celebrate spinning, past and present
Celebrate spinning this Rock Day
William-Adolphe Bouguereau, La Fileuse (The Spinner), 1873, oil on canvas, 63" x 36". Private collection. Source: www.artrenewal.org via www.wikipedia.com.
St. Distaff (who wasn't an actual saint) or Rock (another name for a distaff) Day is often celebrated today, on the seventh of January. Historically, in England, Rock Day marked the day after the Epiphany (the end of the twelve days of Christmas) and time for women to get back to work. Men waited until Plow Monday to return to work, often playing pranks on the industrious women in the meantime. This playful battle of the sexes is captured in Robert Herrick's seventeenth century poem Saint Distaff's Day, Or The Morrow After Twelfth Day.
Interestingly, the work women were returning to was not only spinning: because spinning was done by all women of all classes (often before, between, and after more strenuous work), women were often referenced by spinning terms. For example, unmarried women were called spinsters and inheritance was divided by spear side or distaff side depending if it followed the male or female bloodline.
While today, many of us spinners follow the same spinning pattern, picking up a spindle or sitting down at our wheel as the moment allows, it is for pleasure rather than out of necessity. In the same way, many guilds and spinning organizations have claimed Rock Day as a celebration and a chance to get together and spin. It isn't a time to dig in and work, rather a time to celebrate our craft, its history, and the ways spinning brings us together.
There isn't a big organized Rock Day event in my town, but the local spinning shop, Your Daily Fiber, has a spin-in the first Monday of each month (which just happens to be today). I am planning to go tonight to help claim the day for us modern spinners. Many guilds and retail shops have special get-togethers. I recommend you check with your local spinning groups (or create your own) and join the celebration.