Christmas in Scotland

If you are spending Christmas in Scotland this year you may or may not be aware of our old Christmas traditions. Here are a few facts and traditions of a Scottish Christmas!

Christmas was banned in Scotland for 400 years!

Following the reformation, a law was passed in 1640 by the Scottish Parliament making ‘Yule vacations’ illegal. Even the simple act of singing a Christmas Carol or eating a mince pie could have you arrested. Thankfully, in 1958 Christmas officially became a Scottish public holiday.

Christmas Traditions

For many, Christmas is steeped with traditions some very old and some new. Some of the first Christmas traditions involved the following:

  • Cracking an egg into a cup to see the shape created. This would determine the profession of the person who cracked it. When the egg is placed into a cake and the cake cracks during baking it means that the same person will have a year of bad luck.
  • Burning a twig of Rowan tree at Christmas was a way to clear away bad feelings towards friends, family and neighbours.
  • The Yule bread was baked every Christmas, made without a raising agent and baked for each member of the family. The person who finds a trinket in their loaf will have good luck all year round.
  • Placing candles in the window to welcome a stranger meant you were honouring the visit of the Holy Family.

A Modern Christmas In Scotland

Today we still honour some of our older traditions but there are also some new ones too. Here is a list of some of our favourite Christmas traditions.

  1. Opening advent calendars
    • Starting from December 1st, every day you open a door to unveil a treat inside.
  2. Decorating
    • Christmas trees are usually decorated in lights, baubles, and tinsel with your choice of a star or fairy on top.
    • Around towns and city centres you will see the streets adorned with lots of festive Christmas lights.
    • Statues of Santa and Christmas ornaments will be pulled out from lofts every year and displayed inside and outside of houses.
  3. Santa
    • Santa Claus is the legendary figure for Christmas.
    • Children will often leave mince pies along with a drink for Santa on Christmas eve and some carrots for his reindeer
    • Children will write their Christmas list which is then burned in the fireplace so the letter can be delivered to Santa, or posted to the North Pole.
  4. Stockings
    • Stockings are hung at the end of the bed or beside the fireplace and are filled with small gifts on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Food

For many Christmas is a time to overindulge. A traditional Scottish Christmas dinner is a heavy feast. Traditionally the meal would start with Scotch broth, followed by meal of turkey, skirlie, neeps, tatties, pigs in blankets, gravy and sprouts. This is usually followed up by a dessert of either yule log, mince pies, Christmas pudding or a clootie dumpling (fruit pudding steamed in a cloth). The table is decorated with napkins, Christmas hats and Christmas crackers too!

Season’s Greetings

However you choose to celebrate the festive season this year, we wish you a relaxed and joyful time.