A Guide to Christmas

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Share this guide:. Our goal was to educate users about traditional Polish Christmas celebrations through a highly interactive and engaging scrolling site full of fun, animated SVG graphics. As you may know, Poland is a very religious country, thus many of our traditions and customs originate from Christianity.

In reference to the twelve apostles there should always be twelve dishes on the Christmas table. Carp is the most popular fish in Poland to be served during Christmas and not really eaten any other day of the year! Apart from carp, there can be no dumplings pierogi!

Ideally, there should be red borscht, a traditional Polish soup made from beetroot, with Every dish should be at least tried as it brings good luck for the upcoming new year. It's also a night of magic! Animals are said to talk in a human voice and people have the power to tell the future. Be careful! With the animals having the power of speech they might tell you something you'd rather not know Carols and Christmas songs fill every Polish room. Preparing an extra seat for the unexpected guest is yet another Polish Christmas tradition.

In case a homeless person or a traveller from far away comes to your home during Christmas Eve, an extra seat and cutlery is prepared so if such a person comes, they can join the hosts and celebrate the holidays together. Polish children traditionally received presents from Nicholas on December 6, but many of us give gifts to each other right after Christmas supper too.

Obviously, for the youngest that is the most exciting part of Christmas! But not only for them, actually all of us like to receive gifts, don't we? In a Polish home the whole family is involved in preparation for Christmas. This is including cooking and decorating Christmas tree , always with the familiy involved! Traditionally, Christmas trees are decorated with lights, ornaments made of glass and wrapped treats on December Nowadays, a "hay on the table" is rather rare tradition, but still many people put hay on the table and cover it under the crisp white tablecloth in memory of Jesus in the manger and a reminder of the modest environment in which Jesus was born in.

Before sitting down at the table after all traditional foods are ready and brought to the table, everyone anxiously awaits the moment when the first star, known as the "Gwiazdka", appears in the sky. There is always at least one outdoor skating rink that springs up during the winter months. The rink is usually located in St. In , the main skating rink is on St. You can book tickets online in advance from the Edinburgh Christmas website or buy them in person at the rink. You can bring your own ice skates or rent them on site.

They also have ice scooters and skating aids for children who need a little help standing up. A holiday afternoon tea is a great way to sit down, warm up, and enjoy a break from all the other festivities. There are a number of places in Edinburgh that offer special Christmas time afternoon teas with the best known being The Do me. T he Dome is known for going over the top with its holiday decorations with lots of lights, garlands, and decorations filling its interior.

Time slots for afternoon tea in the Georgian Room at The Dome normally fill up several days in advance during the holiday season, so making a reservation is strongly recommended. Reservations are strongly recommended or required for these afternoon teas to ensure you get a table.

These attractions often have a special festive afternoon tea on offer during December, and can be special places to enjoy a more casual tea experience while out sightseeing. Andrew Square gardens. Mary is clutching the baby Jesus in her arms, Joseph is holding a blanket, and there are some shepherds. The sculpture is not a traditional depiction of the nativity scene as there is no manger, no menagerie of farm animals only a couple of lambs , no angels, and no three magi. December is a great time of the year to visit some of the big attractions as many of them will have special holiday decorations out.

Many also offer special holiday themed tours, workshops, caroling, holiday meals, or after-hour tours. An obvious place to begin is at the Christmas markets on Princes Street gardens and along George Street, but there are plenty of other places to go Christmas shopping. If you are a Harry Potter fan or are shopping for one , you can check out our Harry Potter Edinburgh guide which includes a list of stores selling Harry Potter items. If you are looking for high-quality Scottish items, such as bagpipes, whisky, cashmere, quaichs, tweed, or kilts, do a little research online beforehand to find the best stores that specialize in that product.

Take your time to compare quality and prices before making a purchase. There are usually at least two places you can find Santa in Edinburgh from the 1st of December to Christmas Eve. Other department stores, attractions, and charity organizations often have Santa visits as well so you may want to check online or a local newspaper for other opportunities.

Christmas has become a fairly secular and commercial time of year, but at its core it is a Christian religious holiday designed to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. In addition to worship services, many churches also offer candlelit concerts and services, caroling, and charity events during the holidays.

There are also a number of Roman Catholic e. If you are looking for a more informal nondenominational service, check out the services offered by The Salvation Army. Each year there is a special Edinburgh Christmas events program which includes music, theatre productions, and other evening events. Shows range from family friendly sing-alongs to silent discos to adult-oriented shows.

If you are looking for caroling, there is normally a traditional caroling performance at the nativity at St. This year the University Carol Service is at St. Each year there is a large lighting ceremony of a Christmas tree that signifies the kickoff of the Christmas season in Edinburgh. This free annual event, called Light Night, is family-friendly and huge crowds gather to watch the tree being lit for the first time of the year and to hear choir performances and music.

The tree lighting ceremony usually takes place in mid-November on the Mound off George Street. The tree that is lit is a gift from the Hordaland Country Council in Norway. The tradition of Norway gifting a tree to the people of Edinburgh is a gesture of thanks for the support Scotland gave the Norwegians during World War 2.

The tree used to be sent from Norway, but is now sourced in Scotland. There are a number of fundraising and charity events that take place during the holiday season in Edinburgh. These include performances, lunches, comedy nights, charity walks and runs, charity auctions, concerts, and more! Some are raising money for a number of charities, and some are specific to one type of charity.

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These are mostly local events, but if you are a visitor to the city you can also buy tickets to participate in many of these and help fund a good cause. There are always at least a couple of holiday themed charity walks and runs in Edinburgh each December. Most have fun holiday related themes and many participants wear a Santa suit or reindeer antlers during the event.

For example in and there was the Street of Light, a walk through light and sound installation, and in there was Ice Adventure, a walk-through indoor ice and snow sculpture installation, and the Giant Advent Calendar, a daily evening light-and-sound show. In , the main special event is Silent Light which is an evening silent disco set within the Street of Light where the light and music are synchronized together.

Users wear headphones for shows that last about 20 minutes long.

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You can walk, dance, and sing along the Street of Light listening to the music and enjoying the 60, lights. The Street of Light is located on George Street and a ticket is required. Can purchase a ticket in advance or at the booth before entering. Each year there is also usually at least one free art related event. The Winter Windows program has been displayed at Edinburgh Christmas for the last several years and has returned in The best artwork entries from students around the city are chosen to be displayed in several areas in and around the city throughout the winter season.

Traditional Scottish Christmas meals vary widely but usually feature a roasted meat, ham, or fish turkey is one of the most common , gravy, cranberry sauce, roasted vegetables potatoes, carrots, parsnips , stuffing, a green vegetable e.

The traditional dessert is Christmas pudding dense suet, molasses, dried fruit, alcohol, and spiced cake , but other common options are clootie dumpling a Scottish version of Christmas pudding , a Scottish trifle, or cranachan whipped cream, whisky, honey, and raspberries. Although not typically part of the Christmas Day meal, mince pies are very common snacks or desserts during the Christmas season throughout the UK.

Some popular Edinburgh attractions such as the Edinburgh Castle also have special holiday meals. Many restaurants are closed on Christmas Day so do be sure to confirm opening dates and times , but a number are open, especially those connected to a hotel, and offer special Christmas Day meals. So just be aware that most of the nicer restaurants will be serving special fixed menus on Christmas as well as on Hogmanay , which are generally more expensive than their regular holiday menus. Be sure to book in advance. If you are celebrating Christmas in Edinburgh, there are some common Christmas traditions associated with Christmas Day and the Christmas meal in the UK.

In the morning, some families may attend church services and most people exchange and open gifts. The Advent calendar is taken down today. Watching Christmas cartoons and films a couple common ones that were new for me were Arthur Christmas and the animated The Snowman short film and listening to Christmas music is common throughout December. Many of these are more common in England than Scotland, but are widely practiced throughout the UK. There are normally about a dozen rides geared towards children and families, and then several oriented to adults and thrill seekers.

Tickets for rides can be booked online at the Edinburgh Christmas website valid for the date you choose or purchased in person at the Christmas market. If you are looking for the shortest lines, the best time to visit is near the opening times and on weekdays. The rides do typically get busy after 4pm and on weekends.

Many places are fully booked in advance over Hogmanay. So there are our top 15 things to do to celebrate Christmas in Edinburgh! Check out our guide for what to do in Edinburgh in winter and our Hogmanay guide. If you are going to be in Edinburgh later in the winter, check out our guide to Up Helly Aa, which are Viking-led fire-filled festivals that celebrate the end of the Yule season in Shetland. Also if you are looking for what there is to do nearby, check out our Edinburgh day trip guide.

Do you think you would enjoy spending Christmas in Edinburgh? Have you visited Edinburgh in December or for Christmas?

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If you are going to be visiting, feel free to ask us any questions below in the comments and we are happy to try to help. We love hearing from you! Thanks for sharing this amazing article, great tips and awesome photos. Original plan was to visit last Dec but unfortunately I couldnt make it. Hi Amjad, thanks for taking the time to comment. Glad you enjoyed seeing London at Christmas and I am sure you will enjoy Edinburgh as well. Recommend taking a lot of time to explore the Edinburgh Christmas market as there are a lot of stalls to see and it is across multiple levels as well as the lights and attractions along and around George Street.

Hi Anna, Yes, the Scottish Norwegian Advent concert took place on November 19th but this date has passed so you have missed it unfortunately. But if you are planning to come next year the concert normally takes place every year. Best, Jessica. The largest religious denomination in Scotland is actually the Catholic Church whose membership is more than double that of the Church of Scotland Presbyterian. The number of people belonging to the Church of Scotland though has fallen a lot over recent years.

You can see those stats on the Scottish government website here. The next planned Census will provide some updated data. Hi Jessica, I am actually a member of the Church of Scotland and their own statistics put the membership at , which is 7. Hi Louise, Interesting, that number is very different than the Census data 1. But I suppose that is probably true of all religions as there are a lot people who believe in something but who do not necessarily become members or go to worship services.

I am guessing, based on your number, the Census will show another large decline for those who report belonging to the Church of Scotland. Edinburgh, it is an appealing venue, after reading this article now I want to visit the city on Christmas! It sounds as magical as London on Christmas.

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Last time I had a party of Christmas at in the Party Clubs of London, it was super with a very attractive environment with amazing drinks. Going to try Edinburgh this year! Thanks for this write up! I am in a confusion whether to go to Scotland during Christmas.

I am planning to fly with my husband and 4 yr old daughter from London to Edinburgh for the first time, on Xmas Eve. I am still a little confused as what to do on these 2 days as we are planning only for a 4 night trip to Scotland. Do you have any tips or advice please? London is much larger than Edinburgh and has a much longer history of celebrating Christmas in a public manner. This article outlines the highlights of the Christmas celebration in Edinburgh, which is the city with the largest Christmas markets and attractions in Scotland.

So it really depends on what you want to see and do. In terms of public transport, I think that you were given incorrect information. While transport services will be more limited on Christmas and Boxing Day December 26th , there will still be a number of buses running in Edinburgh, you can see that schedule here. I hope this helps. There is no right answer, London is a great city and Scotland is beautiful. Thank you so much Jessica. It really helps and a special thanks for the bus time table..


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Do yo u know what are the other reasonable means of travelling to highlands from Edinburgh? Oh, yes, I forgot that on the scheduled tours the bus companies are unable to take kids under age 5. A guided tour or driving yourself are the easiest way to travel around the Highlands, but your options also include bus and train. You can also contact a tour company about a private tour as they may be able to accommodate children on those. Buses can get you to all the cities and most of the larger towns and villages in Scotland.

For bus, you can check out the Stagecoach and National Express bus schedules. Just note any holiday timetables. Train travel is more limited in the Scottish Highlands. You can then take a bus or taxi from these places to visit spots further afield. But if you are looking to just explore another Scottish city, in the Highlands or not, it is easy to get a train from Edinburgh to Glasgow , Aberdeen , or Inverness. But if you only have 4 days, you can easily find plenty to do in Edinburgh and surrounds as well.


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