Guilds Celebrate St. Distaff’s Day

St. Distaff's Day is a spinner's holiday frequently observed in our modern-day guilds. The Scottish author Robert Chambers's Book of Days, published in 1864, lists January 7th as St. Distaff's Day. For those who observed the day in medieval times, St. Distaff's Day, or Rock Day, signified the end of the holiday season and a return to work (including spinning) following Christmas. Some calendars list this holiday as January 6th, the last day of repose before returning to work. For most modern spinners, spinning is a source of joy and often of camaraderie. The Wisconsin Spindle and Dyepot Guild gathered for a Day of the Rock celebration and had a program about spinning ramie fiber. The Medina Spinning and Weaving Guild and the Pinellas Weavers Guild also held St. Distaff's Day festivities. These events are a great way to begin new projects, finish old ones, and start the year with friends.

Why Rock Day? In the winter 1997 issue of Spin-Off, Deborah Pulliam tells us more about the history and meaning of Rock Day. "The background for Rock Day is a little firmer, but there are actually two different meanings which lead to the 'rock' part of the day. The first comes from the archaic word for distaff, rok or rokken. Many Northern European languages share this variation: the Dutch word for distaff is rok; Norwegian, rokk; Icelandic, rokkur. . . . From Scotland comes a second meaning that may make more sense to spindle spinners familiar with the small stone whorls on early spindles. Because of the use of stone whorls, spindles were frequently called 'rocks', and fireside gatherings where the women gossiped and re-told local folk stories as they spun were called rockings."

 

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