Christmas in Scotland!

Maddie MacKenna

Hello my wonderful readers,

Christmas is coming, and I couldn’t be happier! I LOVE Christmas, and I am so happy during this time of year, no matter what happens. And the best Christmas I’ve ever experienced was, of course, in Scotland! 

Scotland is magical at that time. But it was not always like that. Let’s learn a little bit about Christmas in Scotland!

Yule Greetings. Image source.

Previous years

In the very ancient years, December 21st or 22nd was celebrated by the Scots for being the shortest day of the year. When you live so far north, you celebrate the day that the solstice changes and the days become bigger, right?

With the arrival of the Vikings in 800AD, these pagan Celtic ancestors named this day “Yule”, which probably comes from the Old Norse word hjól meaning “wheel”.

Christmas’ day was first celebrated on December 25th 800AD with Charlamagne’s Coronation as Holy Roman Emperor. The word Christmas is a contraction of “Christ’s mass”. But everything changed when the  church and the state became closely linked in Scotland.

With the Reformation of 1560, the radical brand of Presbyterian Protestantism swept away all that was considered “Popery”: statues, churches, and most of all, Christmas. And this abolition of Christmas remained in force for 400 years! Until the 1960s, Christmas Day was not considered a Holiday in Scotland! 

Hogmanay celebrations. Image source.

 So what did the Scots celebrate, instead of Christmas?

Hogmanay!

It is basically New Year’s Eve, and it was widely celebrated during the days when Christmas was banned. The celebrations could last for days!

Edinburgh now hosts one of the world’s biggest and most famous Hogmanay street parties, with an amazing fireworks display. There are many Hogmanay traditions that are popular among the Scots, such as the singing of ‘Auld Lang Syne’, a poem written by the amazing Robert Burns. 

There are also many other festivities. The Stonehaven Fireballs Festival has its roots in pagan traditions – for nearly a century, residents of this Aberdeenshire town have paraded along the streets on Hogmanay, swinging giant fireballs to drive evil spirits away and purge the old year.

In Orkney, you’ll need to fight for a view of the Kirkwall Ba’ on New Year’s Day, which sees almost the entire town turned into a football pitch for a chaotic and competitive kickabout!

Surprisingly, the food is not as fatty as you would have thought – meaning no haggis and red meat! Scotland is the home of great fishing and hunting grounds, so you might see a lot of Scottish variants on the table – venison, wild salmon, pheasant…

Scots also love puddings, so you will definitely see a lot of different pudding flavors too!

What do you do during Christmas, dearest?

Let me know in the comments!

Until next time…

Written by Maddie Mackenna

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