National Flitch Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated annually on July 19. Its roots can be traced back to an ancient practice where married couples earned a prized flitch of bacon by proving the strength of their union. Following a year and one day of marriage, the couple would undergo a trial to demonstrate their unwavering love and fidelity. If successful, they would be rewarded with a flitch of bacon. While this custom is no longer actively practiced, it is periodically commemorated at the Dunmow Flitch Trials, which occur every three to four years.
The origins of National Flitch Day remain somewhat unclear, but its inception can be traced back to 1104. Reginald Fitzwalter and his wife, a noble couple, disguised themselves as commoners and sought the blessing of a local prior for their marriage. Impressed by their devotion, the prior bestowed upon them a flitch of bacon, thus laying the foundation for the tradition.
The custom involved presenting a flitch of bacon to married couples who did not regret their union after a year and one day. The couple would undergo a simulated trial to affirm their love, and if successful, they would receive a flitch of bacon, equivalent to about half a pig. This tradition was primarily observed in the English towns of Wychnor in Staffordshire and Little Dunmow.
In Little Dunmow, married couples had to demonstrate their unwavering commitment to their marriage in the preceding year and day. They would lie on two hard and pointed stones in the churchyard and take an oath in the presence of priests and townspeople. Upon successful completion, they were awarded a flitch of bacon and paraded through the town. This practice continued until the mid-18th century. Little Dunmow remains the sole location that has upheld this tradition to the present day. While the tradition was brought to the United States by colonists, it did not persist for an extended period.