Scottish Christmas Traditions

Wanting to add a little Scottish tradition to your Christmas this year? Whilst slightly less popular these days, Scotland has an abundance of traditional practices that date back hundreds of years. Here are some fun, meaningful and silly Scottish Christmas traditions to consider adding into your celebrations this year!

Burn a Yule Log


The tradition of burning a Yule log goes centuries back to the Pagan times in Scotland. Christmas celebrations would focus around the burning of a Yule log over the 12 days of Christmas, as they believed this is when the sun stood still during the year. Over the 12 days the Yule log burned, Scottish people would feast, celebrate and dance, believing this banished evil spirits and brought in good luck for the New Year.


The tradition stood that as long as the Yule burned, the longer the celebrations continued, so households would hunt to bring in the biggest Yule log they could find. Before it was burnt on Christmas Eve, some would decorate it with plants and small trinkets as an offering, which many believe may have been the origin of the Christmas tree tradition still celebrated today.


Some would ensure to keep a piece of the Yule log in the house all year round for good luck, while others would keep the ashes of the Yule log in the bottom of the house to keep away evil spirits. The mention of Yule fires crackling on is still mentioned in literature today, and many Scottish households still practice the tradition over the 12 days of Christmas for good luck.


Decorate the House with Mistletoe


Mistletoe is another worldwide tradition that originates from ancient Scotland, and is apart of a wider pagan tradition. Over the Yule celebrations, Scottish people would bring in evergreens and decorate their house with them, especially with mistletoe.


This was thought to bring life into the house, reducing the bareness and darkness that came along with Scottish winter. Mistletoe was especially thought as an extension of this to increase fertility, and this is where the kissing under the mistletoe tradition comes in! It was thought that because mistletoe thrived during cold winters, to kiss underneath it was good luck for fertility during winter.


It eventually became the custom for a man to be allowed to kiss any woman caught beneath it. However, every time you kissed someone, you had to pluck away a berry. Once all of the berries were gone, the kissing had to stop. We don’t recommend carrying out this tradition as it first came into popularity, however the act of decorating your home with winter evergreen is definitely doable!


Infuse Scottish Foods into your Christmas Dinner


Perhaps the easiest way to include Scottish culture into your Christmas, the food!


Including rich traditional Scottish foods is easily done on Christmas day, considering we specialise in whisky, salmon, haggis and root vegetables!


Traditionally, Scottish people would have oatcakes, smoked salmon, leek and potato soup or Scotch broth to kick off Christmas dinner. Like the rest of the UK, turkey is still the star of the show, with roasties, pigs and blankets and cranberry being the family favourite. However, Scottish traditional side dishes are often included in the feast.

Clapshot, originating in Orkney, is great for this. This traditional dish is similar to mashed potato, however includes swede, chives, butter, salt, pepper and occasionally onions. This dish is also popular over Hogmanay and Burns nights, and is a useful recipe to have saved!


Other traditional Scottish dishes include the Tipsey Laird (a Scottish truffle), the Scottish cheeseboard, the Clootie dumpling or Yule log or Yule bread. If this seems overwhelming, many opt to add some simple store bought haggis to their turkey stuffing, or just having a wee dram of whiskey at the end of the night!


We recommend visiting  to look at some Scottish Christmas recipes!