A Scottish Christmas involves big family, dancing and lots of whiskey.
Jennifer Tod is currently staying in Rossland, but hails from Edinburgh, and says the holiday season whisky drinking starts the night before Christmas, down at the pub.
“Christmas Eve is really big,” she shared. “Everyone comes home for Christmas and it is the one night a year that everyone gets together. Everyone goes to the pub…until maybe 5 or 6 a.m.”
Christmas Eve is also when the cooking starts for a Scottish Christmas dinner. Tod’s family had the familiar trimmings on the table – turkey, potatoes and stuffing – and a couple other dishes that are uniquely Scottish.
“You always have to have a trifle (for dessert),” she said. “We always have baby sausages wrapped in bacon, and you have to have sausage meat stuffed in your turkey. Of course, lots of whisky. There was always lots of whisky.”
Christmas day was hectic and busy for Tod and her family, with a house full of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and more.
“When I was a kid, there would be at least 25 of us,” she said. “Everyone would come over and the mums would be in the kitchen cooking and getting drunk and then the kids would just run around.”
After dinner, someone would get out a fiddle and the family would start a ceilidh, a Gaelic dance party.
“Everyone is Scotland learns these dances in school from age 4 and up,” she said. “So everyone just knows the dances, so you get a bit drunk and every just starts dancing.”
While everyone is inside eating and dancing, outside, Edinburgh would be blanketed in snow more often than not and locals would put their money on it.
“The bookies would take bets to see if we were going to have a while Christmas or not,” she said. “You could gamble on it.”
After Christmas is over, the celebrating doesn’t stop. In Scotland, New Year’s Eve is celebrated as Hogmanay and has a ceremony called first footing.
“You have to go to your neighbours door and present them with a gift, whether it is some whisky or a piece of food,” said Tod, laughing. “Then you keep going along (the road) until you get a big party, and then usually you bring instruments with you, so it turns into a big party.”
Tod has had Christmas celebrations in Scotland, Australia and New Zealand, but this year, she will be spending the holiday season in Rossland.