History of Christmas in Scotland and Scottish Christmas Traditions
Celebrating Christmas publicly was banned in Scotland from the 17th until the early-20th century. In fact, it didn’t become a public holiday until 1956. However, now it is widely celebrated with displays and decorations, along with Boxing Day and New Year’s.
The Christmas traditions in Scotland closely mirror those of the rest of Britain. There are Christmas trees, lights, candles, Christmas markets and of course, Father Christmas (aka Santa Claus). However, there are some ancient traditions which are still practiced in some areas such as keeping a fire burning throughout Christmas.
Additionally, Scots as well as many in the rest of Britain enjoy watching pantomimes, which are traditional plays performed at Christmas. These plays are frequently based on fairy tales, are humorous and have a lot of audience participation.
Traditional Christmas dinners in Scotland include the standard British fair of turkey, brussels sprouts, potatoes, stuffing, etc. Though, many Scots also include broth, smoked salmon and Bannock cakes.
Boxing Day, which is the day after Christmas, is also a public holiday in Scotland and the rest of Britain. Workers used to be given Christmas boxes with gifts on this day. However, now it is usually just another day to spend with family or go shopping as there are many sales which begin on Boxing Day.
What to do during the holiday season in Edinburgh
You won’t be short of things to do if you choose to visit Edinburgh during the festive season (16 November – 12 January). From markets and rides to shows, events and special tours – there is something for everyone to enjoy and the entire city decorates for the occasion.
At the Christmas Markets located along Princes’ Street you can find food, drinks, gift and craft shopping and amusement park rides, such as: a Ferris wheel, a giant helter-skelter, a giant spinning swing ride and more. There are also fireworks, music and shows to enjoy around the market area, Princes Street and the gardens.
Along with the market, there are also special performances, events and tours throughout the city during the festive season. You can see one of the holiday ballets at the Scottish National Ballet or catch the light show at the Botanic Gardens. There are also pantomimes, plays, shows and concerts at almost every venue in the city throughout the season. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can take part in one of the many historic tours of the Old Town which have a holiday theme during Christmastime.
Whatever tickles your holiday fancy, Edinburgh can provide it. So, why not book a trip to Edinburgh this winter and take an English course with ELA to help you learn everything you need to enjoy the local holiday customs in Edinburgh.