Pupils join in Northwold Plough Monday fun
Youngsters swept the boards at their school this week as they took part in the continuing revival of a centuries-old agricultural tradition.
Plough Monday, which is thought to date back to the late 15th century, commonly marked the start of the new farming year and falls on the first Monday after Twelfth Night.
Although the custom declined during the 19th and 20th centuries, it was revived in Northwold in the early 2000s.
And members of the village’s Mummers group, which organises the celebrations, shared some of the day’s traditions with pupils from the Norman CE Primary School on Monday.
Jane Luckman, from the group, said: “It’s good for them to know about these traditions.”
The visit preceded the traditional procession of the plough around the village in the evening, in which the plough is blessed in a prayer for a successful harvest.
With that theme in mind, the Mummers performed a play based around a theme of life and death.
The play often features familiar characters such as St George and the Dragon.
Miss Luckman said that, although one of its characters dies in the story, they are traditionally revived by another member of the cast in order to signify new growth.
The group also covered their faces with blue paint in a bid to make themselves unrecognisable.
Miss Luckman said that mirrors the custom of earlier times when workers would disguise themselves on Plough Monday and go around their villages asking for money, playing tricks like ploughing up someone’s path if they did not give.
Several pupils also got involved by taking part in a broom dance which they were taught for the first time two years ago.
Teaching assistant Sheena Randell said two of the youngsters who had previously been taught the routine then shared their knowledge with younger year groups.
The dance was introduced to the school by Andy Hull, who led the revival of the celebrations, which is now in its 16th year.
Ms Randell, who is also a member of the Mummers, said maintaining the link between the school and the group was important.
She said: “We’re hoping to do more together in the future.”
The evening procession began from the Crown pub and featured dancing displays by the King’s Morris, the Misfits and the Green Dragons.
The tradition is now most associated with molly dancing, which is a form of Morris dancing.
The plough itself was blessed at St Andrew’s Church by the Rev Robin Blackall from Eastmoor.