The first Monday after the twelve days of Christmas (Twelfth Night) is Plough Monday, a day when ploughmen traditionally blackened their faces and wore white shirts.
Plough Monday was the day when village life in many agricultural areas focused on the dragging of a decorated plough by bands of young men who would knock on doors and ask for money, food and drink. They were accompanied by someone acting the Fool. This character would often be dressed in skins and a tail, and carry a pig's bladder on the end of a stick.
In medieval times it was common for ploughs to be blessed by the church on Plough Sunday. Farmers resume their work on Plough Monday after the 12 days of Christmas.
Plough Monday plays were popular in parts of Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands. They were similar to that of Christmas Mummers Plays in that they were performed by young men and included some of the same story elements, such as the death and resurrection of one of the characters.
The Saturday before Plough Monday is the day when the Straw Bear is paraded through the streets of Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire.
Find out more about the Straw Bear Custom...