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8 Scottish Christmas traditions explained

Many of Scotland’s seasonal customs at Christmas are traditional in the truest sense, with many stretching back hundreds of years.

There are some great pagan ideas, first-rate medieval treats, but then there is a huge gap in festivities - a Christmas-free zone until the middle of the 20th century - until it all came back into fashion. Here we take a look at some Christmas traditions and their origins.

When druids and pagans inhabited Scotland they took greenery into the house, as a symbol of life in the dark nights of midwinter. Mistletoe, revered by the druids for its fertility properties, was cut from the sacred oak tree.

1. Mistletoe

When druids and pagans inhabited Scotland they took greenery into the house, as a symbol of life in the dark nights of midwinter. Mistletoe, revered by the druids for its fertility properties, was cut from the sacred oak tree.
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To banish the dark, the pagans brought fire into the house. At some point this time of year became known as Yule and during the festival a Yule log was gathered.

2. Yule log

To banish the dark, the pagans brought fire into the house. At some point this time of year became known as Yule and during the festival a Yule log was gathered.
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It is the pagans too who have been credited with the early tradition of decorating a tree. It is thought that they hung shapes from an evergreen brought into the house to symbolise life.

3. Christmas tree

It is the pagans too who have been credited with the early tradition of decorating a tree. It is thought that they hung shapes from an evergreen brought into the house to symbolise life.
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The Celts burned the Cailleach  a log with the face of an old woman carved into it that was supposed to take away any lingering bad luck.

4. Yule log, the Celt version

The Celts burned the Cailleach a log with the face of an old woman carved into it that was supposed to take away any lingering bad luck.
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