Christmas topples Hogmanay as Scotland’s favourite festive celebration

Scotland's reputation as the home of Hogmanay has taken a hit after a new opinion poll found that two third of Scots said celebrating Christmas was more important to them.

Edinburgh's Christmas Market has been able to stay open under the current Scottish Government guidelines. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Edinburgh's Christmas Market has been able to stay open under the current Scottish Government guidelines. Picture: Ian Georgeson

A survey carried out before the Scottish Government's clampdown on festive events and celebrations found that just 19 per cent of Scots said they preferred bringing in the bells.

New research, which highlights how Christmas Day was not even declared a public holiday in Scotland until the 1950s, found that families were the most likely to prefer Christmas, while nearly half of adults aged 16-24 said they preferred to celebrate Christmas.

Bad memories, loneliness and too much of a focus on alcohol were cited among the main reasons to dislike Hogmanay.

Edinburgh's official Hogmanay celebrations have been called off for the second year in a row. Picture: Ian Georgeson Photography.

The findings emerged from a poll carried out by Scottish research company 56 Degree Insight in early December.

The company also asked Scots to vote for their favourite and least favourite festive songs.


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Fairytale of New York, the 1987 hit by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, was voted favourite ahead of Wham’s Last Christmas, which was released three years earlier. Cliff Richard’s Mistletoe and Wine was voted Scotland’s least favourite festive hit.

Celebrating Christmas was famously banned in Scotland in the wake of the Reformation ini 1560, with a parliamentary law in 1640 making the celebration of Yule illegal. Although the ban was officially repealed in 1712, Christmas Day did not become a public holiday in Scotland until 1958. Scots waited another 16 years to get a two-day festive break, with Boxing Day not becoming a public holiday until 1974.

Jim Eccleston, managing partner at 56 Degree Insight, said: “Following Christmas, and as we gear up to the New Year celebrations in Scotland, albeit in a rather muted form this year because of restrictions caused by the rise of Omicron, it begs the question – what is more important to most Scots – Christmas or New Year?

“Right up until the 1950s, many Scots worked over Christmas and celebrated their winter holiday at New Year when people gathered for parties, exchanged presents – and this became known as Hogmanay.

“Hogmanay remains a ‘very Scottish tradition’ and is synonymous with Scotland the world over. But how do Scots in 2021 feel about Hogmanay and Christmas?

“Clearly, things have changed since the 1950s. Two thirds of Scots said that they prefer Christmas and only one in eight prefer New Year. One in five had no preference, whilst four per cent didn’t like either.


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“Not unexpectedly, there are variations in opinion by certain demographics.

“As would be expected, families are the group most likely to prefer Christmas (77 per cent) – and only seven per cent of them prefer New Year.

"Young adults - those aged 16-24 - are rather more likely to prefer New Year (26 per cent), although even amongst this age group, a larger proportion chose Christmas (49 per cent).

"So, there is clear evidence that for most Scots, Christmas celebrations are now more preferred over those that take place a week later – something that would have been much less likely in the middle of the 20th century.”


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