Christmas Tips & Fun

Learn interesting, unusual, unique and useful facts and tips about Christmas and the winter holiday season, in America and around the world.

Christmas Around the World

Christmas in Scotland


t’s hard to believe that there pretty much wasn’t Christmas in Scotland until the 1950s. Religious leaders until then thought that celebrating the birth of Christ was either papery or pagan and shouldn’t be tolerated. The day itself wasn’t even an official holiday until near the end of the century. Now it, and Boxing Day – the day after Christmas – are what are called Bank Holidays.

But old traditions die hard and often the way Christmas is celebrated depends on where in Scotland you live. One town might have "fairy lights" on the big fir tree in the center of town while the next town over might have no lights, no caroling and nothing festive at all.

Scots on the Web are trying to change their image but their hearts aren’t really in it. That’s because their Big Day is really New Year’s Eve, or Hogmany – which means the same thing. Some people attribute the celebration of Hogmany as a reaction to not-much-going-on at Christmas and the repression of the Kirk (the Presbyterian Church.) In any case, it’s a big deal with customs – such as cleaning the house from top to bottom because it’s bad luck to start the new year with a dirty house… or with outstanding debts (ah, those thrifty Scotts – still able to do that for many of them!) – aplenty. They’re starting to do fireworks, they’ve always had "a wee dram" of good whiskey, and at Midnight they tend to gather together in a circle and cross hands to hold the hands of neighbors or family on either side and sing Auld Lang Syne.

Then there’s "first footing" – the idea that the first person to set foot in your newly-cleaned house (carrying a lump of coal or stone) will bring good luck. The homeowner reciprocates with treats of nuts or fruit – or a wee dram. With sufficient drams in a lad there can be a parade of first footers.

Written by Dianne Weller
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