Christmas and New Year's (Hogmanay) Celebrations in Scotland
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Here are some excerpts and links to articles about Scottish Christmas and New Year's Traditions.

Christmas Celebrations Banned in Scotland!  After the Church Reformation in the 16th century the celebration of Christmas was frowned on by the Kirk which regarded it as a popish festival. "Christmas" is "Christ's Mass" and mass was banned in Scotland at that time! There are records of charges being brought against people for keeping "Yule" as it was called in Scotland. Amazingly, this dour, joy-crushing attitude lasted for 400 years. Until the 1960s, Christmas Day was a normal working day for most people in Scotland. If there is a specifically "Scottish" aspect to Christmas it is that it was not celebrated which  is why Hogmanay became so popular.

Christmas itself was until recent times a purely Religious festival and New Year was and still is the main holiday for Scots. Christmas was not traditionally celebrated in Scotland. Hogmanay was the real traditional celebration … for the rest of the article go here.

About 65 years ago Eliza Baird Sanderson and her daughter, Maisie, put on a skit for a church program which portrayed the customs surrounding Christmas in the wee Scottish village of Furnace a century past. The following narrative is taken from the "cue cards" used in the program and resurrected from the family treasures.

While New Year's Eve is celebrated around the world, the Scots have a long rich heritage associated with this event - and have their own name for it, Hogmanay. There are many theories about the derivation of the word "Hogmanay". The Scandinavian word for the feast preceding Yule was "Hoggo-nott" while the Flemish words (many have come into Scots) "hoog min dag" means "great love day". But the most likely source seems to be the French. "Homme est né" or "Man is born" while in France the last day of the year when gifts were exchanged was "aguillaneuf" while in Normandy presents given at that time were "hoguignetes". Take your pick!

The origins of the Scottish customs are as ancient as they are diverse. The very fact that Scotland chose to celebrate the New Year in preference to Christmas is said to have its roots in the Kirk, which viewed the Christmas celebrations as 'popish and superstitious'. Whatever the reasons, it has always been that the further north one travels in Britain, the more intense is the swing in celebrations towards the New Year.

The Hogmanay Companion 
by Hugh Douglas,
Keith Horrox



Click on the button above to listen to the music and read the text by Robert Burns.