Christmas is celebrated on 25th December in Scotland.
Christmas in Scotland is a festive and joyful holiday celebrated with a mix of traditional customs, cultural traditions, and a warm sense of community. While the holiday shares some similarities with Christmas celebrations in other parts of the United Kingdom, Scotland has its unique traditions and customs. Here's how Christmas is typically celebrated in Scotland:
The Christmas season begins with Advent, and many Scottish households have Advent calendars and Advent wreaths. People often light an Advent candle each Sunday leading up to Christmas.
Homes, streets, and towns in Scotland are beautifully decorated with festive lights, ornaments, and Christmas trees. The Christmas tree, often adorned with ornaments and tinsel, is a central decoration in both homes and public spaces.
Many Scottish cities and towns host Christmas markets, where visitors can shop for gifts, enjoy seasonal foods and drinks, and soak in the festive atmosphere.
Christmas Eve is the main night of celebration, with families coming together for a festive meal. Traditional Scottish dishes may be served, including haggis, neeps, and tatties. After the meal, people exchange gifts.
The Midnight Mass, or Christmas Eve church service, is an essential part of the celebration, particularly for those who observe the religious aspect of Christmas.
After the midnight Mass, it's a Scottish tradition to go "first-footing." The first-footer is the first person to enter a home after the stroke of midnight and brings symbolic gifts like whisky, shortbread, or coal. It is believed that the first-footer's arrival can bring good luck for the year ahead.
In Scotland, New Year's Eve (known as Hogmanay) is often celebrated with more enthusiasm than Christmas. Festivities include parties, fireworks, and a range of customs like "Auld Lang Syne" singing and "first-footing" to welcome the new year.
Caroling is a cherished tradition in Scotland, with groups of carolers singing traditional Christmas carols in the community. The sound of carolers, known as "waits" in some areas, adds to the festive atmosphere.
Scottish Christmas menus often feature traditional dishes like roast turkey, roast beef, and cranachan (a dessert made with oats, cream, whisky, and raspberries).
Many Scots participate in acts of charity during the Christmas season, helping those in need and supporting local charities and community organizations.
Taking a walk in the beautiful Scottish countryside is a common tradition on Christmas Day. It's a way for people to work off their festive meals and enjoy the natural beauty of Scotland.
Attending pantomimes and festive plays is a popular activity during the Christmas season, providing entertainment for both children and adults.
Christmas in Scotland is a time for tradition, togetherness, and a warm sense of community. The combination of festive decorations, traditional customs, and the emphasis on Hogmanay celebrations creates a unique and joyful atmosphere during the holiday season, making it a special time for both Scots and visitors to the country.
The tradition of celebrating Christmas was banned here for nearly 400 years until the 1950's. In the 1580's, this magical festival was obliterated from the list of Scottish festivals as it was seen to be supporting Romanism. Until 1958, when Christmas Day was declared a public holiday, people worked normally on this day although the children did get presents. Even today, the traditional Christmas celebration is usually a low-key affair as the Church of Scotland, which is the Presbyterian Church,
is not very entusiastic about the festival. Even those who are members of the Church of England observe the festival quietly as the English people dislike loud, fervid celebrations. The Christmas traditions in Scotland are similar to that of the U.S., although the Scottish people do have some interesting customs of their own.
Just before Halloween, gift shops here are seen to be stacked up with a variety of gifts for Christmas. As days pass, fairy lights are put up on the trees in bigger cities. The departmental stores and buildings are seen to be decorated with strands of brilliant Christmas lights. Multicoloured light bulbs are set up on big fir trees in the centre of the smaller towns. In the days leading to Christmas, these lights are smashed up one by one by young people so that only one or two remain at the top of the tree by Christmas Eve. Children join in the countdown by making Advent calendars at home all by themselves. These pretty crafts have little doors on them that can open for every day in December with a little picture behind, ending on Christmas Eve. They also compose a letter mentioning all the presents they want for Christmas and send it to Santa Claus in Lapland. One means of doing this is throwing the Christmas list into the fireplace. It is believed that the list would go up the chimney and get to Santa that way. Families decorate their homes with Christmas trees, colourful Christmas lights, tinsel and other decorative items.
Here Christmas Eve is observed on December 24th, as in many other nations of the world. In some regions of the country, this day is called 'Sowans Nicht'. The name probably comes from 'sowans', a dish made from oat husks and fine meal steeped in water, that is eaten on this day. A popular tradition practiced here on Christmas Eve is burning the branches of a rowan tree, which signifies that any bad feeling between friends or relatives had been put aside for Yuletide. It is believed that if the fire goes out on Christmas Eve, the household would suffer bad luck in the coming year. Many children hang up their stockings at the end of their bed before going to bed believing Santa would come and fill them before morning. Some kids use pillow cases instead of stockings.
In many households, open-air lunches are arranged. Black buns(cakes made from fruits, almonds, spices and a little Whisky), Bannock cakes(made of oatmeal) and Sun cakes(sun-baked cakes) are the traditional picks for Christmas meal. Other delicious dishes are plum pudding, mince pies, spiced roast duck, smoked salmon coronets with prawns and seafood bisque(served with brandy sauce). Some people who do not like fruit cake may have a Yule log, which is a chocolate cake from Sweden.