On Monday, January 12, 1863, Alloa and Tullibody celebrated Handsel Monday.

This time honoured tradition has long since become consigned to the history books but it was once a celebrated holiday in the country.

In Alloa, all the banks closed and most of the factories shut down for the day. As it was a beautiful morning, many of those living in the surrounding districts caught the train into the town, as did the local country folk.

In Candle Street, shooting stalls had been set up, as well as tables for people to play dice, and both proved popular.

The proprietors of the local public houses also did a roaring trade that day. However, the streets were not as busy as they had been in the past as the tradition was beginning to slowly wane.

By two o’clock in the afternoon, the rain had begun to fall, and the crowds dispersed to find shelter indoors. To people in the town, it seemed just like any other day.

By 7 o’clock that evening, the rain had cleared, and some of the crowds seen earlier returned to the streets. It would be expected that by this time, a good number of drunk people would be wandering the streets, but this did not happen.

There were a few who were considered drunk and incapable but, as they were causing no harm, the police turned a blind eye as they made their way peacefully towards their homes. By midnight, the streets had cleared once more and were quiet.

The following day, all the shops in the town closed for their annual holiday.

At Tullibody, on that Handsel Monday, a sports day was held, where many participated in the running events, long jump, and high jump.

The morning had been dry and sunny, but again the rain appeared and put a dampener on the events.

Here there was also shooting, with prizes handed out. One of these was a pork ham worth £1 which was provided by Mr Oliver. It was a tradition of his to supply a joint of meat as a prize and it was won by William Christie of Stirling.

Later in the day, a ball was held for the young people of the village which was well attended and enjoyed by all.

Handsel Monday eventually fell out of favour but some of its traditions were incorporated into Hogmanay and New Year celebrations, which continues to be the main event of the festive season in Scotland.