Meal Monday

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Meal Monday
Observed byAncient Scottish Universities
DateSecond Monday in February
2020 dateFebruary 10  (2020-02-10)
2021 dateFebruary 8  (2021-02-08)
2022 dateFebruary 14  (2022-02-14)
2023 dateFebruary 13  (2023-02-13)

Meal Monday (also known as Oatmeal Monday[1]) was a traditional holiday observed by the ancient universities of Scotland on the second Monday of February.

During the 17th century, Scottish university students lived in very basic accommodation and were required to bring their own fuel, firewood or peat, to maintain a fire.[2] Their diet was meagre too, largely consisting of oatmeal, which they would make into porridge. This lifestyle would remain typical until the late 19th century. The Rev. James Sharp noted that as a student at the University of Edinburgh, "the liberal arts, sciences and theology were cultivated on oatmeal, with an occasional glass of beer on a Saturday night."[3]

As the students' country homes or farms were some distance from the city universities, an occasional long weekend was scheduled to permit them to replenish their supplies.[4][5] Originally, and until as recently as 1885, these Meal Mondays would occur regularly; the University of Edinburgh had one on the first Monday of every month. However, by 1896 [4] Edinburgh established just one official holiday, on the second Monday in February.[3]

Meal Monday remained widely observed in Scotland during the late 19th and 20th century, with Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities also having the academic holiday.[6][7] In 2006, Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith reported that "[it] was still celebrated some 30 years ago, when I was a student, although nobody used it to fetch oatmeal."[8] By the beginning of the 21st century, however, the Universities no longer afforded their students an official Meal Monday holiday,[9][10][11] though the University of St. Andrews still maintains Meal Monday as a statutory holiday for "manual staff."[12]


  1. ^ Rodney Dale, Book of When: A Dictionary of Times And Seasons, Book Sales, 2005, ISBN 1-904919-20-0
  2. ^ Printing in Scotland 1507-1947 Archived 2006-02-28 at the Wayback Machine, The Scottish Printing Archival Trust, Retrieved 12 October 2007
  3. ^ a b Laurence Hutton, Literary Landmarks of the Scottish Universities, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1904
  4. ^ a b Andrew Cheviot, Proverbs, Proverbial Expressions and Popular Rhymes of Scotland, Alexander Gardner, Publisher, 1896
  5. ^ Alexander Morgan, Scottish University Studies, The Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 5, No. 6, 1934, pp. 344-346
  6. ^ Helen M Munro, Some Recent Notes and Recollections of Queen Margaret College Life, in The Book of the Jubilee, J. MacLehose and Sons, 1901
  7. ^ Robin Cameron, Graham Bird, Obituary: Professor Robert Cross, The Independent, 7 October 2000
  8. ^ Alexander McCall Smith, My life in a single bite, Observer Food Monthly, 20 August 2006
  9. ^ General Information - Public Holidays, University of Aberdeen, retrieved 12 October 2007
  10. ^ Public Holiday Dates, University of Glasgow, retrieved 12 October 2007
  11. ^ Semester Dates, University of Edinburgh, retrieved 12 October 2007
  12. ^ Holiday Entitlement - 1 September to 31 August each year[permanent dead link], University of St. Andrews, retrieved 12 October 2007