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The first Monday of the New- Year has been long known in Scotland, more especially the northern half of the Lowlands, as Hansel-Monday, from the custom among people of the working class of asking or receiving gifts or handsel from their well-to-do neighbors, and from each other, on that day. It lingers in those rural districts where Christmas may pass nnmentioned, and where New- Year's day is only marked by the luxury of an" unaccustomed dram, and the interchange of good wishes at the libation of it. The sticklers for the retention of the Hansel-Monday festivities reckon, of course, by the old style ; but the introduction in some quarters of the new way of reckoning, and the growing popularity of Christmas and New-Year's day — the latter especially — are confining the old-fashioned holiday of old Hansel-Monday to a continually diminishing area, and the probability is, that the 20th century, which is already within cry, will make quick and quiet work in dispatching it. While the practice of hanselling and being hanselled was not so long ago pretty universal in this country, and dates" from times as ancient as Arthur of the Bound Table— (if we mistake not, there are incidental references to the practices at the Court of King Arthur in the old metrical romances) —the allocation of the first Monday of the year to the observance of the custom by servants calls for some explanation. It may be that the festivities of the first day of the year, as celebrated by the lords of the land, required the performance of extra duties by their servants, and that the latter bad their turn of rejoicing and holiday-making on the first Monday after those festivities. This explanation hardly meets the case at all points, for when New Year's day falls on a Monday the day is kept in some districts as Hansel- Monday, while in others it is deferred to the Monday following. It is thus a dispute whether Hansel-Monday is properly to be held on the first Monday of the New Year or on the first Monday after New Year's day. On farms, Auld Hansel-Monday, where it is kept, is the great winter holiday of the year. Outdoor and indoor servants alike have a complete escape from bondage for the day, and many a farmer will own that the hardest day's work for him and his wife throughout the year occurs on HanselMonday. The necessary labors of the farm have to be done on that day by the members of his household. Use and wont has given the day to his servants. Not only has he himself to help fill their place,buthe is expected to L ansel them , fro in foreman to herd-boy ; and part of thehanselalmost invariably includes a gift of a little money. In one view of the matter, it is a wholesome reversal of relations between rustics and their employers. A notable feature of the manner in which country people celebrate Auld Hansel-Monday is their evident desire to enjoy the whole twenty-four hours of the holiday. They are astir at the sma' hours after midnight, and it is near midnight again before they think of lying down. In their impatience to have the holiday commence, young people usually waken the villages by kicking old tin pans at unearthly hours of the morning through the quiet streets. Thereafter, they begin a house-to-house visitation for gifts, while their awakened elders spend the day in feasting and visiting their friends — taking part in raffles for currant loaves, watches, wheelbarrows, or pigs ; and drinking toddy in turn at each others houses in the evening. — ' Dunfermline Press '

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Bibliographic details

AULD HANSEL-MONDAY., Bruce Herald, Volume XXI, Issue 2152, 28 March 1890

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AULD HANSEL-MONDAY. Bruce Herald, Volume XXI, Issue 2152, 28 March 1890

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