Saint Distaff’s Day

photograph of an Alsation spinner at her wheel with a large distaff attached; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsAlso known as

  • Distaff Day
  • Roc Day


January 7 used to be called Saint Distaff’s day, being the first after the holidays the women resumed their work. The men did not begin till the first Monday, which was called Plough Monday, and they used to set the women’s flax afire, for which the latter threw water on them. From this comes the old song by Herrick:

“Partly work and partly play
You must on Saint Distaffs day;
From the plough soon free your team,
Then come home and fother them.

“If the maids a-spinning go,
Burn the flax and tire the tow;
Bring in pails of water then,
Let the maids bewash the men.

“Give Saint Distaff all the right;
Then bid Christmas sport good-night.
And next morrow every one
To his own vocation.”

Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Distaff’s Day”. Illustrated Catholic Family Annual, 1880. CatholicSaints.Info. 15 January 2017. Web. 4 December 2020. <>