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With every year that passes, it rolls around quicker than the year before.  To think that you could count down the days to Christmas on your hands, it feels like mid-summer was only a month ago!  With all the family cheer, decorating the tree then moving onto its surroundings, each year we try to replicate the previous year or try to better the celebration.  What are your plans this year?  Are you sticking to tradition?  Or are you making your own traditions?  Here are a few Scottish traditions and facts you might not know…

Christmas, it’s banned!

An unusual fact about Christmas in Scotland is that the celebration was made illegal for years!  Before the celebration was banned, it was known as ‘Yule’.  In 1640 an Act of Parliament of Scotland made the Yule celebration illegal.  It wasn’t until 1712 that the ban was officially repealed but it was still frowned upon by the church.  There was no public holiday on Christmas day for the Scottish people, and anyone who celebrated yule faced a harsh punishment.


There are many different forms of divination.  Once a popular custom in Scotland, from reading tea leaves to swept fireplace ashes.  On Christmas eve a single person would crack an egg into a cup and the shape of the white would determine the profession of a possible partner.  The egg was then mixed into a cake, if the cake cracked while baking the person would have bad luck the following year.  Many Scots still burn a twig of rowan tree to clear bad feelings of mistrust between family, neighbours, and friends.

First footer

On Christmas day, the first visitor to your home was known as the first footer.  Depending on where you research…this person would bring gifts of peat, money, and bread to symbolise warmth, wealth and lack of want.  Or, bring several gifts such as a silver coin, salt, coal, evergreen and whisky. Starting as a Christmas day tradition, it later became a New Year’s Day tradition.  It is acceptable for the first footer to be a resident of the house, but they must not be in the house at the stroke of midnight or after, they must leave before for them to be the first footer.

Night of Candles

Placing candles in the window to welcome a stranger is a long-upheld Scottish Christmas tradition.  This night is called Oidche Choinnle, or Night of Candles.  It is believed that with all windows lit by candles, this shows the way for the Holy family who are in search for shelter on the night of Christmas Eve.  Shopkeepers would hand out Yule candles as goodwill and wishing them “fire to warm you and a light to guide you”

Here at the Lovat, we wish you all a very merry Christmas.  We hope your holiday is filled with love and laughter.  We look forward to hearing about your new traditions and some of the old Scottish traditions that you keep inspired.

The Lovat Loch Ness, the perfect place to…Enjoy Christmas traditions.

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Post by Dan Mitchell

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