Steeped in secret traditions, ancient recipes and time spent with family, friends and neighbours, Christmas in Scotland is a magical time.
Did you know? Christmas was only recognised as a holiday from the 1950s, meaning us Scots are relative newcomers to yuletide, however this doesn’t mean that we missed out on all of the Christmas festivities we just became adept at hiding our celebrations!
Known as the branch of romance at Christmastime, the mistletoe branch symbolised life and light during dark December days, in Christmas-less Scotland. Life and light were also marked through fire, with the burning of logs and twigs of the rowan tree banishing negative energies and bad luck.
As with other cultures, food is one of the most central things to a Scottish Christmas. It is customary for neighbours to visit each other with presents of black buns (made with fruits, almonds, spices and a little whisky) or shortbread as a gift of good luck over Christmas and New Year. Unleavened yule breads were baked by Scots as a way of celebrating Christmas during the festive ban and today, bakers add a trinket to a loaf for one lucky family member.
A vast natural landscape in Scotland makes for some of the finest fish and game meat in the world. From wild salmon, to pheasant and venison, locally sourced ingredients give Scottish Christmas dinners more meaning and authenticity.
A wee dram is traditionally enjoyed at the stroke of midnight to share love and good luck. The spirit is used in a range of festive treats including black buns, scotch whisky trifle and of course, Christmas pudding.
Although, a shift in alcohol consumption shows that Scottish gins are fast becoming more popular than whisky. With Scotland producing some 70% of the UK’s gin production, the nation is leading a shift in alcoholic drink trends. And, in a 2017 YouGov poll, gin came out as the top tipple of choice in Scotland, beating scotch whisky.