Spin Out on St. Distaff’s Day


It’s St. Distaff’s Day. The official day ending the Christmas break and signaling the return to work. We can thank the medievals for this unofficial holiday.

However, it’s not really a holiday. The distaff, used in spinning, was a medieval symbol of women’s work. In many European cultures, women resumed their household work after the Twelve Days of Christmas. Women of all classes would spend their evenings at the spinning wheel. During the day, however, they carried a drop spindle with them. Spinning was the only way they could turn raw wool, cotton, or flax into thread for weaving. Alas, a woman’s work is never done.

Men also had a name day for returning to work after Epiphany. Epiphany doesn’t always occur as the Twelve Days ends, so often the men had a few extra days for loafing. Plough Monday, the first Monday after Epiphany, was when they were to return to work. I can’t imagine the ground being plough-able that time of year, but I supposed they needed a reason to go back to work, whether they were going to plough or not.

I selected the Pantone Color of the Year as the official color to be used in all St. Distaff’s Day celebrations. It’s called Greenery and it’s the color used in Jan 7. It seems that all of the paint companies have jumped on the Color of the Year bandwagon. I almost selected Sherwin-Williams color Poised Taupe which seemed like a good candidate for the distaff. But if I incorporated the Year of the Red Fire Rooster with St. Distaff’s Day, would we get a color available in medieval times? Finally, maybe Kelly-Moore’s Kettleman might suffice for Plough Monday. 

And there you have it: the official non-official feast day to end feast days with appropriate color for all celebration vestments. It’s a good thing Saint Sam and I aren’t obligated to St. Distaff’s Day or Plough Monday. We might be naked and hungry!

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