GALLERY: Molly dancers observe Plough Monday

MOLLY dancers were out in force across East Cambs and Fenland today, as the centuries-old tradition of Plough Monday was joyfully observed.

A dozen molly men from the Mepal Molly side began the day’s festivities at 10.30am in Mepal before heading off on a tour of pubs and villages across East Cambridgeshire.

With many primary schools in the district closed for teacher training, the dancers took the opportunity to drop in at Sutton, Witcham, Wardy Hill and Coveney in the morning to demonstrate their routines to villagers.

In the afternoon, the group visited pubs in Stretham, Wicken, Soham, Great Fen and Prickwillow before ending the day in Market Place, Ely.

In the evening, the dancers took to the Honest John pub in Chatteris and the Three Pickerels in Mepal where they performed one last set of dances before the end of the annual celebrations.

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Plough Monday is the first Monday after Epiphany, or Twelfth Night. The day was traditionally an important ritual for agricultural workers in the east, providing the opportunity to make some money at a difficult time of year.

In medieval times it is believed that ploughboys were supposed to return to work on Plough Monday, the start of the new ploughing season. Instead the plough was paraded through the streets with the aim to extort money from the wealthy landowners.

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