Handsel Monday

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Handsel Monday
Also calledAuld Hansel Monday
Observed byScotland
DateFirst Monday in January
2023 dateJanuary 2  (2023-01-02)
2024 dateJanuary 1  (2024-01-01)
2025 dateJanuary 6  (2025-01-06)
2026 dateJanuary 5  (2026-01-05)

In Scotland, Handsel Monday or Hansel Monday is the first Monday of the year. Traditionally, gifts (Scots: Hansels) were given at this time.[1]

Among the rural population of Scotland, Auld Hansel Monday, is traditionally celebrated on the first Monday after January 12. This custom reflects a reluctance to switch from the old (Julian) style calendar to the new (Gregorian) calendar.[2]


The word "handsel" originates from old Saxon word which means “to deliver into the hand”. It refers to small tips and gifts of money given as a token[3] of good luck, particularly at the beginning of something; the modern house-warming gift would be a good example. An 1825 glossary marks Handsel Monday as an occasion "when it is customary to make children and servants a present".[4] On this day, tips of small gifts were expected by servants,[5] as well as by the postman, the deliverers of newspapers, scavengers, and all persons who wait upon the house.

In this respect it is somewhat similar to Boxing Day, which eventually supplanted it.[2] If the handsel was a physical object rather than money, tradition said that the object could not be sharp, or it would "cut" the relationship between the giver and the recipient. The day is known in Scottish Gaelic as Diluain Traoighte (drained Monday).

The custom was also known as “handseling a purse”. A new purse would not be given to anyone without placing money in it for good luck.[6][failed verification] Money received during Handsel Monday is supposed to ensure monetary luck all for the rest of the year.

The period of festivities running from Christmas to Handsel Monday, including Hogmanay and Ne'erday, is known as the Daft Days.[7][8][9]


  1. ^ Michael Quinion, "World Wide Words: Handsel". Retrieved 7 May 2013
  2. ^ a b Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, s.v. "Handsel Monday," Detroit: Omnigraphics, Inc., 2010. Retrieved 7 January 2013,
  3. ^ Handsel at Scots Language Centre Archived 2013-07-05 at archive.today. Retrieved 4 July 2013
  4. ^ John Trotter Brockett, A glossary of north country words, in use, 1st edition, 1 vol., Newcastle upon Tyne: 1825.
  5. ^ Definition at Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 4 July 2013
  6. ^ "The History of Ireland". Archived from the original on 26 July 2013.
  7. ^ "Scotslanguage.com - Fergusson's Daft Days". www.scotslanguage.com.
  8. ^ "Dictionary of the Scots Language:: SND :: feast".
  9. ^ "Dictionary of the Scots Language:: SND :: daft".

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