Christmas in Scotland: 12 Old traditions and customs of a Scottish Christmas or “Yule”

Where there is history there are traditions and Scotland has many colourful traditions given its thousands of years worth of rich history - this includes Christmas which, although widely celebrated today, was once banned in Scotland for almost 400 years.

During the Reformation (around the 1600s), the UK was ruled by Oliver Cromwell who banned “Christ’s Mass”. Eventually, Cromwell fell from power which saw the ban lifted everywhere but in Scotland which was, in a word, due to Presbyterianism.

Scots celebrating Christmas did so discreetly as the event, once known as Yule, was stripped from the Calendar and harsh punishments awaited anyone taking part. For Scots, this time was reduced to little more than another work day until 1958 when Christmas Day was finally recognised as a public holiday.

Despite this gap in Scottish festivity the country still boasts a myriad of traditions as even prior to the Reformation, the Winter Solstice (i.e., Yule or “Yogh” in Older Scots) was celebrated by druids, pagans and vikings - ancestors who roamed Scotland long before us.

From why we hang mistletoe to the origins of Yule Bread, here are 12 old Christmas traditions and customs of Scotland.

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