Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Handsel Monday

Besides Little Christmas and Orthodox Christmas,
this week in January also brought another reason to celebrate,
depending on your perspective.

Monday, January 6th was not only Little Christmas,
it was also a traditional holiday in Scotland called Handsel Monday.
"Handsel" is a variant of an Old English word, "handsell"  that meant 
"to hand to or to give."

Strome Castle, Scottish Highlands

Auld Handsel Monday was celebrated by giving a few coins
or small gifts to children and servants.
If you receive money on Handsel Monday,
you will have good luck with money all year.

I found an old text from the National Library of New Zealand
that described the celebration. 
Apparently the servants and common folk particularly loved this holiday,
so they would begin to celebrate at midnight by banging tin pans
up and down the streets.
Their party would continue until midnight of the next day.
At some point, they would go door to door begging gifts,
and participate "in raffles for currant loaves, watches, wheelbarrows, and pigs."
And they'd finish the festivities by drinking toddies
at one another's houses.

Ben Nevis Mountain, Scotland.

Christmas and New Year's grew in popularity,
eventually supplanting Auld Handsel Monday.
So if you missed celebrating it, you're in good company.

But it's not too late to drink a toddy and eat some currant bread.
And if you're lucky,
someone might give you a few coins or a watch.
And if you're really lucky,
maybe a pig in a wheelbarrow.

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