One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Chiefly in France or French contexts: a New Year's gift; a Christmas present; a tip or bonus given to a servant, tradesperson, etc., at New Year.
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in Marquise de Sévigné's Letters. From French étrenne New Year's Gift from classical Latin strēna auspicious sign, lucky gift sent at the New Year; of unknown origin (considered by ancient authors to be of Sabine origin).
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