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Mannies an Horses

With the New Year celebrations behind us once again, it is back to auld claes an parritch , the usual routine again. That would not have been the case in past centuries when workers could look for ward to Handsel Monday – the First Monday after New Year which was described in Jamieson’s Dictionary as –

The first Monday of the New Year; so called because it has been the custom from time immemorial, for servants and others to ask or receive handsel on this day.

The poet R Anderson recorded how past generations looked forward to Handsel Monday –

They waited till the Auld Kirk bell
Struck twal’ then at the final knoll,
The ladies a’ set up a yell –
‘Hurrah forr Handsel Monday.’

Until late in the 19th century, Handsel Monday was even more important than Hogmanay or Neerday because it was the only holiday workers were allowed in the entire year, apart from the occasional local fair. It was a day when families could get together, couple marry, a day to celebrate and enjoy to the full. Handsel gifts were given to workers, usually in the form of cash, and it was recognised as an essential part of servant’s wages. The tradition started to die out in towns during the 19th century but lingered on in the country areas until the turn of the century. This week’s recipe, which dates from 1880, might well have featured on Handsel Monday. Mannies an Horses (men and horses) is a recipe from the Aberdeenshire village of Insh and were a market day speciality.

Mannies an Horses

Ingredients:  8oz plain flour; ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda; 1 tsp ground ginger; 3oz lard; 5 tbsp syrup; little warm water if needed

Method:  Preheat oven to 180 deg C/350 deg F/ Gas Mark 4. Beat the lard and syrup together. Mix the dry ingredients, and work into syrup mixture. Roll out and shape into mannies and horses. Bake until golden brown. 

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