Faith in sod: Bishop blesses plough ahead of start of farming year

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The celebration usually involves bringing a plough to church to receive a blessing, but it is also common for local farmers to attend services with their tractors. The celebrations can also be accompanied by other traditions, including Morris Dancing. 

The celebration – which is held on the first Sunday after Epiphany, typically between Jan 7 and 13 – goes back to Victorian times, but has its roots in much older worship. 

In the Middle Ages, ploughs were sometimes kept in the parish church, and some churches kept a ‘plough-light’ – a candle that burned over the plough throughout the winter. 

In days when work was scarce, parishioners would look forward to the time of sowing with the promise of a harvest to come. 

Separately, the annual blessing of the Thames took place on London Bridge on Sunday, during which a wooden crucifix was thrown into the river.

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