Christmas (Old English: Crīstesmæsse, meaning “Christ’s Mass”) is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed most commonly on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world.
Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world’s nations, is celebrated culturally by a large number of non-Christian people, and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season.
The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins.
Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath, Christmas music and caroling, an exchange of Christmas cards, church services, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly.
“Christmas” is a compound word originating in the term “Christ’s Mass”. It is derived from the Middle English Cristemasse, which is from Old English Crīstesmæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038 followed by the word Cristes-messe in 1131. Crīst (genitive Crīstes) is from Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), a translation of Hebrew and mæsse is from Latin missa, the celebration of the Eucharist. The form “Christenmas” was also historically used, but is now considered archaic and dialectal; it derives from Middle English Cristenmasse, literally “Christian mass”.
Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary as a fulfillment of the Old Testament’s Messianic prophecy. The Bible contains two accounts which describe the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. Depending on one’s perspective, these accounts either differ from each other or tell two versions of the same story. These biblical accounts are found in the Gospel of Matthew, namely Matthew 1:18, and the Gospel of Luke, specifically Luke 1:26 and 2:40. According to these accounts, Jesus was born to Mary, assisted by her husband Joseph, in the city of Bethlehem.
According to popular tradition, the birth took place in a stable, surrounded by farm animals. A manger (that is, a feeding trough) is mentioned in Luke 2:7, where it states Mary “wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” ; and “She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them” . Shepherds from the fields surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel, and were the first to see the child. Popular tradition also holds that three kings or wise men (named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar) visited the infant Jesus in the manger, though this does not strictly follow the biblical account. The Gospel of Matthew instead describes a visit by an unspecified number of magi, or astrologers, sometime after Jesus was born while the family was living in a house (Matthew 2:11), who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the young child Jesus.
In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses.
The modern portrayal of Santa Claus frequently depicts him listening to the Christmas wishes of children.
Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle and simply “Santa”, is an important figure with legendary, historical and folkloric origins who, in many Western cultures, is said to bring gifts to the homes of the good children on 24 December, the night before Christmas Day. However, in some European countries children receive their presents on St. Nicholas’ Day, either the 6th or 19th of December.
Santa Claus is generally depicted as a portly, joyous, white-bearded man—sometimes with spectacles—wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots and who carries a bag full of gifts for children. Images of him rarely have a beard with no moustache.This image has been maintained and reinforced through song, radio, television, children’s books and films.
Saint Nicholas of Myra was a 4th-century Greek Christian bishop of Myra (now Demre) in Lycia, a province of the Byzantine Empire, now in Turkey. Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor, in particular presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes. He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life entirely to Christianity. In continental Europe (more precisely the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Germany) he is usually portrayed as a bearded bishop in canonical robes.
The remains of Saint Nicholas are in Italy. In 1087, the Italian city of Bari mounted an expedition to locate the tomb of the Saint. The reliquary of St. Nicholas was conquered by Italian sailors and his relics were taken to Bari where they are kept to this day. A basilica was constructed the same year to store the loot and the area became a pilgrimage site for the devout. Sailors from Bari collected just half of Nicholas’ skeleton, leaving all the minor fragments in the grave. These were collected by Venetian sailors during the First Crusade and taken to Venice, where a church to St. Nicholas, the patron of sailors, was built on the San Nicolò al Lido. This tradition was confirmed in two important scientific investigations of the relics in Bari and Venice, which revealed that the relics in the two Italian cities belong to the same skeleton. Saint Nicholas was later claimed as a patron saint of many diverse groups, from archers, sailors, and children to pawnbrokers.
He is also the patron saint of both Amsterdam and Moscow.
During the Middle Ages, often on the evening before his name day of 6 December, children were bestowed gifts in his honour. This date was earlier than the original day of gifts for the children, which moved in the course of the Reformation and its opposition to the veneration of saints in many countries on the 24 and 25 December. So Saint Nicholas changed to Santa Claus.
Prior to Christianization, the Germanic peoples (including the British) celebrated a midwinter event called Yule (Old English geola or guili).
With the Christianization of Germanic Europe, numerous traditions were absorbed from Yuletide celebrations into modern Christmas. During this period, supernatural and ghostly occurrences were said to increase in frequency, such as the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession through the sky. The leader of the wild hunt is frequently attested as the god Odin and he bears the Old Norse names Jólnir, meaning “yule figure” and the name Langbarðr, meaning “long-beard”
The god Odin’s role during the Yuletide period has been theorized as having influenced concepts of St. Nicholas in a variety of facets, including his long white beard and his gray horse for nightly rides, which was traded for reindeer in North America.
Father Christmas dates back as far as 16th century in England during the reign of Henry VIII, when he was pictured as a large man in green or scarlet robes lined with fur. He typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas, bringing peace, joy, good food and wine and revelry. As England no longer kept the feast day of Saint Nicholas on 6 December, the Father Christmas celebration was moved to 25 December to coincide with Christmas Day. The Victorian revival of Christmas included Father Christmas as the emblem of ‘good cheer’. His physical appearance was variable, with one famous image being John Leech’s illustration of the “Ghost of Christmas Present” in Charles Dickens’s festive classic A Christmas Carol (1843), as a great genial man in a green coat lined with fur who takes Scrooge through the bustling streets of London on the current Christmas morning, sprinkling the essence of Christmas onto the happy populace.
The tradition of Santa Claus entering dwellings through the chimney is shared by many European seasonal gift-givers.
In pre-Christian Norse tradition, Odin would often enter through chimneys and fire holes on the solstice. In the Italian Befana tradition, the gift-giving witch is perpetually covered with soot from her trips down the chimneys of children’s homes. In the tale of Saint Nicholas, the saint tossed coins through a window, and, in a later version of the tale, down a chimney when he finds the window locked. In Dutch artist Jan Steen’s painting, The Feast of Saint Nicholas, adults and toddlers are glancing up a chimney with amazement on their faces while other children play with their toys. The hearth was held sacred in primitive belief as a source of beneficence, and popular belief had elves and fairies bringing gifts to the house through this portal. Santa’s entrance into homes on Christmas Eve via the chimney was made part of tradition through the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” where the author described him as an elf.
Children traditionally leave Santa a glass of milk and a plate of cookies; in Britain and Australia, he is sometimes given sherry or beer, and mince pies instead. In Denmark, Norway and Sweden, it is common for children to leave him rice porridge with cinnamon sugar instead.
Santa Claus’s home traditionally includes a residence and a workshop where he creates—often with the aid of elves or other supernatural beings—the gifts he delivers to good children at Christmas. Some stories and legends include a village, inhabited by his helpers, surrounding his home and shop.
Writing letters to Santa Claus has been a Christmas tradition for children for many years. These letters normally contain a wishlist of toys and assertions of good behavior.
Many postal services allow children to send letters to Santa Claus. These letters may be answered by postal workers and/or outside volunteers.
A letter to Santa is often a child’s first experience of correspondence. Written and sent with the help of a parent or teacher, children learn about the structure of a letter, salutations, and the use of an address and postcode.
Santa lives on the North Pole, which according to Canada Post lies within Canadian jurisdiction in postal code H0H 0H0 (a reference to “ho ho ho”, Santa’s notable saying, although postal codes starting with H are usually reserved for the island of Montreal in Québec). On 23 December 2008, Jason Kenney, Canada’s minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, formally awarded Canadian citizenship status to Santa Claus. “The Government of Canada wishes Santa the very best in his Christmas Eve duties and wants to let him know that, as a Canadian citizen, he has the automatic right to re-enter Canada once his trip around the world is complete,” Kenney said in an official statement.
A Christmas card is a greeting card sent as part of the traditional celebration of Christmas in order to convey between people a range of sentiments related to the Christmas and holiday season. Christmas cards are usually exchanged during the weeks preceding Christmas Day by many people (including non-Christians) in Western society and in Asia. The traditional greeting reads “wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”. There are innumerable variations on this greeting, many cards expressing more religious sentiment, or containing a poem, prayer, Christmas song lyrics or Biblical verse; others stay away from religion with an all-inclusive “Season’s greetings”.
The content of the design might relate directly to the Christmas narrative with depictions of the Nativity of Jesus, or have Christian symbols such as the Star of Bethlehem or a white dove representing both the Holy Spirit and Peace. Many Christmas cards show Christmas traditions, such as seasonal figures (e.g., Santa Claus, snowmen, and reindeer), objects associated with Christmas such as candles, holly, baubles, and Christmas trees, and Christmastime activities such as shopping, caroling, and partying, or other aspects of the season such as the snow and wildlife of the northern winter. Some secular cards depict nostalgic scenes of the past such as crinolined shoppers in 19th century streetscapes; others are humorous, particularly in depicting the antics of Santa and his elves.
The world’s first commercially produced Christmas card, designed by John Callcott Horsley for Henry Cole in 1843
Early English cards rarely showed winter or religious themes, instead favoring flowers, fairies and other fanciful designs that reminded the recipient of the approach of spring. Humorous and sentimental images of children and animals were popular, as were increasingly elaborate shapes, decorations and materials.
The advent of the postcard spelled the end for elaborate Victorian-style cards, but by the 1920s, cards with envelopes had returned.
Many countries produce official Christmas stamps, which may be brightly colored and depict some aspect of Christmas tradition or a Nativity scene.
Small decorative stickers are also made to seal the back of envelopes, typically showing a trinket or some symbol of Christmas.
Quite often the Santa, if and when he is detected to be fake, explains that he is not the real Santa and is helping him at this time of year.
Most young children accept this explanation.
At family parties, Santa is sometimes impersonated by the male head of the household or other adult male family member.
In the United Kingdom, Father Christmas was historically depicted wearing a green cloak. As Father Christmas has been increasingly merged into the image of Santa Claus, that has been changed to the more commonly known red suit. One school in the seaside town of Brighton banned the use of a red suit erroneously believing it was only indicative of the Coca-Cola advertising campaign. School spokesman Sarah James said: “The red-suited Santa was created as a marketing tool by Coca-Cola, it is a symbol of commercialism.” However, Santa had been portrayed in a red suit in the 19th century by Thomas Nast among others.
Christians celebrate Christmas in various ways. In addition to this day being one of the most important and popular for the attendance of church services, there are other devotions and popular traditions.
In some Christian denominations, children re-enact the events of the Nativity with animals to portray the event with more realism or sing carols that reference the event. A long artistic tradition has grown of producing painted depictions of the nativity in art. Nativity scenes are traditionally set in a stable with livestock and include Mary, Joseph, the infant Jesus in the manger, the three wise men, the shepherds and their sheep, the angels, and the Star of Bethlehem. Some Christians also display a small re-creation of the Nativity, known as a Nativity scene or crèche, in their homes, using figurines to portray the key characters of the event. The final preparations for Christmas are made on Christmas Eve, and many families’ major observation of Christmas actually falls in the evening of this day.
In eastern Europe also, old pagan traditions were incorporated into Christmas celebrations, an example being the Koleda, which was incorporated into the Christmas carol.
A Christmas carol (also called a noël) is a carol (song or hymn) whose lyrics are on the theme of Christmas, and which is traditionally sung on Christmas itself or during the surrounding holiday season. Christmas carols may be regarded as a subset of the broader category of Christmas music.
In the ninth and tenth centuries, the Christmas “Sequence” or “Prose” was introduced in North European monasteries, developing under Bernard of Clairvaux into a sequence of rhymed stanzas.
In the twelfth century the Parisian monk Adam of St. Victor began to derive music from popular songs, introducing something closer to the traditional Christmas carol.
In the thirteenth century, in France, Germany, and particularly, Italy, under the influence of Francis of Assisi a strong tradition of popular Christmas songs in the native language developed.
Christmas carols in English first appear in a 1426 work of John Awdlay, a Shropshire chaplain, who lists twenty five “caroles of Cristemas”, probably sung by groups of ‘wassailers’, who went from house to house. The songs we know specifically as carols were originally communal songs sung during celebrations like harvest tide as well as Christmas. It was only later that carols begun to be sung in church, and to be specifically associated with Christmas.
Today carols are regularly sung at Christian religious services. Some compositions have words that are clearly not of a religious theme, but are often still referred to as “carols”.
One theory to explain the choice of 25 December for the celebration of the birth of Jesus is that the purpose was to Christianize the pagan festival in Rome of the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti means “the birthday of the Unconquered Sun”, a festival inaugurated by the Roman emperor Aurelian to celebrate the sun god and celebrated at the winter solstice, 25 December. According to this theory, during the reign of the emperor Constantine, Christian writers assimilated this feast as the birthday of Jesus, associating him with the ‘sun of righteousness’ mentioned in Malachi 4:2.
An explicit expression of this theory appears in an annotation of uncertain date added to a manuscript of a work by 12th-century Syrian bishop Jacob Bar-Salibi. The scribe who added it wrote: “It was a custom of the Pagans to celebrate on the same 25 December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and revelries the Christians also took part. Accordingly when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnised on that day.” This idea became popular especially in the 18th and 19th centuries.
In the judgement of the Church of England Liturgical Commission, this view has been seriously challenged by a view based on an old tradition, according to which the date of Christmas was fixed at nine months after 25 March, the date of the vernal equinox, on which the Annunciation was celebrated. This alternative view is considered academically to be “a thoroughly viable hypothesis”, though not certain.
Christmas was promoted in the Christian East as part of the revival of Catholicism following the death of the pro-Arian Emperor Valens at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. The feast was introduced to Constantinople in 379, and to Antioch in about 380. The feast disappeared after Gregory of Nazianzus resigned as bishop in 381, although it was reintroduced by John Chrysostom in about 400.
In the Early Middle Ages, Christmas Day was overshadowed by Epiphany, which in western Christianity focused on the visit of the magi. But the medieval calendar was dominated by Christmas-related holidays. The forty days before Christmas became the “forty days of St. Martin” (which began on November 11, the feast of St. Martin of Tours), now known as Advent.
In Italy, former Saturnalian traditions were attached to Advent. Around the 12th century, these traditions transferred again to the Twelve Days of Christmas (December 25 – January 5); a time that appears in the liturgical calendars as Christmastide or Twelve Holy Days.
By the High Middle Ages, the holiday had become so prominent that chroniclers routinely noted where various magnates celebrated Christmas. King Richard II of England hosted a Christmas feast in 1377 at which twenty-eight oxen and three hundred sheep were eaten. The Yule boar was a common feature of medieval Christmas feasts. Caroling also became popular, and was originally a group of dancers who sang. The group was composed of a lead singer and a ring of dancers that provided the chorus. Various writers of the time condemned caroling as lewd, indicating that the unruly traditions of Saturnalia and Yule may have continued in this form. “Misrule”—drunkenness, promiscuity, gambling—was also an important aspect of the festival. In England, gifts were exchanged on New Year’s Day, and there was special Christmas ale.
Christmas during the Middle Ages was a public festival that incorporated ivy, holly, and other evergreens. Christmas gift-giving during the Middle Ages was usually between people with legal relationships, such as tenant and landlord. The annual indulgence in eating, dancing, singing, sporting, and card playing escalated in England, and by the 17th century the Christmas season featured lavish dinners, elaborate masques, and pageants. In 1607, King James I insisted that a play be acted on Christmas night and that the court indulge in games. It was during the Reformation in 16th–17th-century Europe that many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve.
In the early 19th century, writers imagined Tudor Christmas as a time of heartfelt celebration. In 1843, Charles Dickens wrote the novel A Christmas Carol that helped revive the “spirit” of Christmas and seasonal merriment. Its instant popularity played a major role in portraying Christmas as a holiday emphasizing family, goodwill, and compassion.
Dickens sought to construct Christmas as a family-centered festival of generosity, in contrast to the community-based and church-centered observations, the observance of which had dwindled during the late 18th century and early 19th century. Superimposing his humanitarian vision of the holiday, in what has been termed “Carol Philosophy”, Dickens influenced many aspects of Christmas that are celebrated today in Western culture, such as family gatherings, seasonal food and drink, dancing, games, and a festive generosity of spirit. A prominent phrase from the tale, “Merry Christmas”, was popularized following the appearance of the story. This coincided with the appearance of the Oxford Movement and the growth of Anglo-Catholicism, which led a revival in traditional rituals and religious observances.
The term Scrooge became a synonym for miser, with “Bah! Humbug!” dismissive of the festive spirit.
In Britain, the Christmas tree was introduced in the early 19th century following the personal union with the Kingdom of Hanover by Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of King George III. In 1832, the future Queen Victoria wrote about her delight at having a Christmas tree, hung with lights, ornaments, and presents placed round it. After her marriage to her German cousin Prince Albert, by 1841 the custom became more widespread throughout Britain.
The practice of putting up special decorations at Christmas has a long history. In the 15th century, it was recorded that in London it was the custom at Christmas for every house and all the parish churches to be “decked with holm, ivy, bays, and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green”. The heart-shaped leaves of ivy were said to symbolize the coming to earth of Jesus, while holly was seen as protection against pagans and witches, its thorns and red berries held to represent the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus at the crucifixion and the blood he shed.
The traditional colors of Christmas decorations are red, green, and gold. Red symbolizes the blood of Jesus, which was shed in his crucifixion, while green symbolizes eternal life, and in particular the evergreen tree, which does not lose its leaves in the winter, and gold is the first color associated with Christmas, as one of the three gifts of the Magi, symbolizing royalty.
A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer such as spruce, pine, or fir or an artificial tree of similar appearance, associated with the celebration of Christmas.
The custom of the Christmas tree developed in early modern Germany with predecessors that can be traced to the 16th and possibly 15th century, in which devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. It acquired popularity beyond Germany during the second half of the 19th century, at first among the upper classes.
The tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts, or other foods. In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles which were ultimately replaced by Christmas lights after the advent of electrification. Today, there are a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garland, tinsel, and candy canes. An angel or star might be placed at the top of the tree to represent the archangel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity.
The Christmas tree has also been known as the “Yule-tree”, especially in discussions of its folkloric origins.
While it is clear that the modern Christmas tree originated during the Renaissance of early modern Germany, there are a number of speculative theories as to its ultimate origin.
It is frequently traced to the symbolism of trees in pre-Christian winter rites, in particular through the story of Donar’s Oak and the popularized story of Saint Boniface and the conversion of the German pagans, in which Saint Boniface cuts down an oak tree that the German pagans worshipped, and replaces it with an evergreen tree, telling them about how its triangular shape reminds humanity of the Trinity and how it points to heaven.
Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime.”
On Christmas Day, the Christ Candle in the center of the Advent wreath is traditionally lit in many church services.
A special Christmas family meal is traditionally an important part of the holiday’s celebration, and the food that is served varies greatly from country to country. Some regions, such as Sicily, have special meals for Christmas Eve, when 12 kinds of fish are served. In the United Kingdom and countries influenced by its traditions, a standard Christmas meal includes turkey, goose or other large bird, gravy, potatoes, vegetables, sometimes bread and cider. Special desserts are also prepared, such as Christmas pudding, mince pies, fruit cake and Yule log.
Eggnog, , also known as egg milk punch, is a chilled, sweetened, dairy-based beverage traditionally made with milk and/or cream, sugar, and whipped eggs (which gives it a frothy texture). Spirits such as brandy, rum or bourbon are often added. The finished serving is often garnished with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon or nutmeg.
Eggnog with a strong alcohol content keeps well, and is often considered to improve when aged for up to a year.
Eggnog is often provided to guests in a large punch bowl, from which cups of eggnog are ladled.
The origins, etymology, and the ingredients used to make the original eggnog drink are debated. Eggnog may have originated in East Anglia, England; or it may have simply developed from posset, a medieval European beverage made with hot milk; eggs were added to some posset recipes. The “nog” part of its name may stem from the word noggin, a Middle English term for a small, carved wooden mug used to serve alcohol.
In Poland and other parts of eastern Europe and Scandinavia, fish often is used for the traditional main course, but richer meat such as lamb is increasingly served. In Germany, France, and Austria, goose and pork are favored. Beef, ham, and chicken in various recipes are popular throughout the world. The Maltese traditionally serve Imbuljuta tal-Qastan, a chocolate and chestnuts beverage, after Midnight Mass and throughout the Christmas season. Slovaks prepare the traditional Christmas bread potica, bûche de Noël in France, panettone in Italy, and elaborate tarts and cakes. The eating of sweets and chocolates has become popular worldwide, and sweeter Christmas delicacies include the German stollen, marzipan cake or candy, and Jamaican rum fruit cake. As one of the few fruits traditionally available to northern countries in winter, oranges have been long associated with special Christmas foods.
Eggnog is a sweetened dairy-based beverage traditionally made with milk and/or cream, sugar, and whipped eggs (which gives it a frothy texture). Spirits such as brandy, rum or bourbon are often added. The finished serving is often garnished with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon or nutmeg.
The exchanging of gifts is one of the core aspects of the modern Christmas celebration, making it the most profitable time of year for retailers and businesses throughout the world. Gift giving was common in the Roman celebration of Saturnalia, an ancient festival which took place in late December and may have influenced Christmas customs. On Christmas, people exchange gifts based on the tradition associated with St. Nicholas, and the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh which were given to the baby Jesus by the Magi.
Sinterklaas or Saint Nicholas, considered by many to be the original Santa Claus.
A number of figures are associated with Christmas and the seasonal giving of gifts. Among these are Father Christmas, also known as Santa Claus (derived from the Dutch for Saint Nicholas), Père Noël, and the Weihnachtsmann; Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas; the Christkind; Kris Kringle; Joulupukki; Babbo Natale; Saint Basil; and Father Frost.
The best known of these figures today is red-dressed Santa Claus, of diverse origins. The name Santa Claus can be traced back to the Dutch Sinterklaas, which means simply Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was a 4th-century Greek bishop of Myra, a city in the Roman province of Lycia, whose ruins are 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from modern Demre in southwest Turkey. Among other saintly attributes, he was noted for the care of children, generosity, and the giving of gifts. His feast day, December 6, came to be celebrated in many countries with the giving of gifts.
Saint Nicholas traditionally appeared in bishop’s attire, accompanied by helpers, inquiring about the behaviour of children during the past year before deciding whether they deserved a gift or not. By the 13th century, Saint Nicholas was well known in the Netherlands, and the practice of gift-giving in his name spread to other parts of central and southern Europe. At the Reformation in 16th–17th-century Europe, many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, corrupted in English to Kris Kringle, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve.
Father Christmas, a jolly, well nourished, bearded man who typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas, predates the Santa Claus character. He is first recorded in early 17th century England, but was associated with holiday merrymaking and drunkenness rather than the bringing of gifts. In Victorian Britain, his image was remade to match that of Santa.
The French Père Noël evolved along similar lines, eventually adopting the Santa image. In Italy, Babbo Natale acts as Santa Claus, while La Befana is the bringer of gifts and arrives on the eve of the Epiphany. It is said that La Befana set out to bring the baby Jesus gifts, but got lost along the way. Now, she brings gifts to all children. In some cultures Santa Claus is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, or Black Peter. In other versions, elves make the toys. His wife is referred to as Mrs. Claus.
A Christmas stocking is an empty sock or sock-shaped bag that is hung on Christmas Eve so that Santa Claus (or Father Christmas) can fill it with small toys, candy, fruit, coins or other small gifts when he arrives. These small items are often referred to as stocking fillers. In some Christmas stories, the contents of the Christmas stocking are the only toys the child receives at Christmas from Santa Claus; in other stories (and in tradition), some presents are also wrapped up in wrapping paper and placed under the Christmas tree. Tradition in Western culture threatens that a child who behaves badly during the year will receive only a piece of coal. However, coal is rarely if ever left in a stocking, as it is considered cruel.
While there are no written records of the origin of the Christmas Stocking, there are popular legends that attempt to tell the history of this Christmas tradition. One such legend has several variations, but the following is a good example:
Very long ago, there lived a poor man and his three very beautiful daughters. He had no money to get his daughters married, and he was worried what would happen to them after his death. He thought they would become prostitutes. Saint Nicholas was passing through when he heard the villagers talking about the girls. St. Nicholas wanted to help, but knew that the old man wouldn’t accept charity. He decided to help in secret. After dark he threw three bags of gold through an open window, one landed in a stocking. When the girls and their father woke up the next morning they found the bags of gold and were, of course, overjoyed. The girls were able to get married and live happily ever after.
Other versions of the story say that Saint Nicholas threw the 3 bags of gold directly into the stockings which were hung by the fireplace to dry.
This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so, St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.
A tradition that began in a European country originally, children simply used one of their everyday socks, but eventually special Christmas stockings were created for this purpose. The Christmas stocking custom is derived from the Germanic/Scandinavian figure Odin. According to Phyllis Siefker, children would place their boots, filled with carrots, straw, or sugar, near the chimney for Odin’s flying horse, Sleipnir, to eat. Odin would reward those children for their kindness by replacing Sleipnir’s food with gifts or candy. This practice, she claims, survived in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands after the adoption of Christianity and became associated with Saint Nicholas as a result of the process of Christianization. Today, stores carry a large variety of styles and sizes of Christmas stockings, and Christmas stockings are also a popular homemade craft. This claim is disputed though as there is no records of stocking filling practices related to Odin until there is a merging of St. Nicholas with Odin.
St. Nicholas had an earlier merging with the Grandmother cult in Bari, Italy where the grandmother would put gifts in stockings. This merged St. Nicholas would later travel north and merge with the Odin cults.
The largest Christmas stocking measured 51 m 35 cm (168 ft 5.65 in) in length and 21 m 63 cm (70 ft 11.57 in) in width (heel to toe) and was produced by the volunteer emergency services organisation Pubblica Assistenza Carrara e Sezioni in Carrara, Tuscany, Italy, on 5 January 2011. The event was organized in order to raise money for a charity helping the aged, one of the group’s key functions, and it was also a seasonal celebration for the city of Carrara. Fulfilling the guideline that the stocking had to be filled with presents, the volunteers filled the stocking with balloons containing sweets inside.
Santa Claus’s reindeer form an imaginary team of flying reindeer traditionally held to pull the sleigh of Santa Claus and help him deliver Christmas gifts. The commonly cited names of the reindeer are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen. They are based on those used in the 1823 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (commonly called “The Night Before Christmas”), which is arguably the basis of reindeer’s popularity as Christmas symbols, and in which Donner and Blitzen were originally called Dunder and Blixem respectively.
The enduring popularity of the Christmas song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” has led to Rudolph often joining the list.
The names of Donder and Blitzen derive from Germanic words for thunder and lightning, respectively.
The 1823 poem by Clement C. Moore “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (also known as “The Night Before Christmas” or “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”) is largely credited for the contemporary Christmas lore that includes the eight flying reindeer and their names.
The relevant segment of the poem reads:
“When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
with a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer, and Vixen!
“On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Dunder and Blixem!
“To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,”
2015 Opening times:
The Centre is open daily from 1st April to 30th October from 10am to 5:30pm; 31st Oct from 10am – 4pm.
In all cases, last full tours are one hour before closing.
Admissions 2015: Adults £8.75; Seniors £8.00; Children £6.50; Families (2+1) from £23.
General Info: The average visiting time is about one and one-half hours. Please allow longer if you are in a group. Car/coach parking is available adjacent to the Centre.
Ours is an outdoor Centre, featuring an ancient timber house. In the interests of comfort and safety, we ask that you wear or bring flat shoes.
Access: Ramps provide disabled access with assistance at the visitor centre but not out to the Crannog. Please contact us to discuss any special needs.
The Scottish Crannog Centre
Kenmore, Loch Tay, Aberfeldy,
Perthshire, PH15 2HY, Scotland.
Tel : 01887 830583
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Reconstructing a Crannog
How did the ancient people build their crannogs in the water? Our team of underwater archaeologists carried out a unique experiment to find out and re-discovered the secrets of ancient technology.
A crannog is a type of ancient loch-dwelling found throughout Scotland and Ireland dating from 2,500 years ago. An important part of our heritage, many crannogs were built out in the water as defensive homesteads and represented symbols of power and wealth.
The Scottish Crannog Centre features a unique reconstruction of an early Iron Age loch-dwelling, built by the Scottish Trust for Underwater Archaeology (STUA), registered charity no. SCO18418. This authentic recreation is based on the excavation evidence from the 2,500 year old site of ‘Oakbank Crannog’, one of the 18 crannogs preserved in Loch Tay, Scotland. The STUA continues to explore other underwater sites in Loch Tay and further afield, regularly adding new discoveries to its award-winning centre at Kenmore, Perthshire.
Crannogs are a type of ancient loch-dwelling found throughout Scotland and Ireland, while one has been discovered in Wales in Llangorse Lake. Most are circular structures that seem to have been built as individual homes to accommodate extended families. Other types of loch settlements are also found in Scandinavian countries and throughout Europe.
Crannogs are also known as artificial or modified natural islands and they were as much a product of their environment as the period in which they were constructed.
The authentic crannog reconstruction which forms the focal part of the Scottish Crannog Centre was built by the Scottish Trust for Underwater Archaeology or STUA. The Scottish Trust for Underwater Archaeology is a registered charity (number SCO18418) and was formed to promote the research, recording, and preservation of Scotland’s underwater heritage.
The earliest loch-dwelling in Scotland is some 5,000 years old but people built, modified, and re-used crannogs in Scotland up until the 17th century AD. Throughout their long history crannogs served as farmers’ homesteads, status symbols, refuges in times of trouble, hunting and fishing stations, and even holiday residences. Here in Highland Perthshire, the prehistoric crannogs were originally timber-built roundhouses supported on piles or stilts driven into the lochbed.
In more barren environments and in later periods tons of rock were piled onto the lochbed to make an island on which to build a stone house. Today the crannogs appear as tree-covered islands or remain hidden as submerged stony mounds. Several hundred have been discovered so far in Scotland although only a few have been investigated. For a guide book providing more information about Scottish crannogs, contact us at email@example.com.
You can look at some of the underwater discoveries in the exhibition which are fascinating; walk over water into the Iron Age on your crannog tour; and test your skills at ancient crafts and technology. In the Spring and Summer, you can also hire one of our dugout canoes, weather permitting. Special events run regularly featuring artists, musicians, skilled craft workers and other specialists who, together with our own team of Iron Age guides, actively bring the past to life for adults and children alike from ages 4+.
AWARD WINNING In recognition of our dedication to quality, authenticity, and environmental responsibility, the Scottish Crannog Centre’s range of awards includes:
The popular song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is usually seen as simply a nonsense song for children with secular origins. However, some have suggested that it is a song of Christian instruction, perhaps dating to the 16th century religious wars in England, with hidden references to the basic teachings of the Christian Faith. They contend that it was a mnemonic device to teach the catechism to youngsters. The “true love” mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The “me” who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the “days” represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn.
It is certainly possible that this view of the song is legendary or anecdotal. Without corroboration and in the absence of “substantive evidence,” we probably should not take rigid positions on either side. So, for historical accuracy, we need to acknowledge the likelihood that the song had secular origins.
However, on another level, this should not prevent us from using the song in celebration of Christmas. Many of the symbols of Christianity were not originally religious, including even the present date of Christmas, but were appropriated from contemporary culture by the Christian Faith as vehicles of worship and proclamation.
Whatever you believe there is no denying the popularity of the song or it’s common use in todays society. Over the following days I’ll share a little of the information about the lyrics that I’ve been able to source.
The Camera Obscura show is a fascinating and highly amusing way to see the city and learn about its history. This unique experience has delighted and intrigued people for over 150 years. It is a ‘must’ on any visit to Edinburgh.
From inside this mysterious Victorian rooftop chamber, you see live moving images of Edinburgh projected onto a viewing table through a giant periscope.
The guides guide will entertain you while telling stories of Edinburgh, past and present, in an engaging and informative way. Our visitors are truly amazed at how, in this age of high technology, a simple array of mirror, lenses and daylight can produce this incredible panorama.
There is six floors of hands-on, interactive fun!
HISTORY OF THE ATTRACTION
A brief History of Edinburgh’s oldest purpose built visitor attraction – The Camera Obscura and World of Illusion.
In the early 18th Century the Short family were scientific instrument makers in the south side of Edinburgh. In 1776 their son Thomas leased land on Calton Hill and built a ‘Gothic House’ to house his optical instruments and very fine telescopes, charging admission to see them. He died in 1788.
In 1827, Maria Theresa Short returned to Edinburgh from the West Indies claiming to be Thomas’s daughter. She wished to claim his ‘Great Telescope’ for her inheritance. There was strong competition from other parties, but Maria received the telescope and set up a ‘Popular Observatory’ in 1835, housed in a wooden and stone building next to the National Monument on Calton Hill. She exhibited many scientific instruments and kept her Observatory open till 9pm each evening.
In a leaflet from this period, solar microscopes and achromatic telescopes were regularly included as part of optical exhibitions. One typical show at Short’s observatory in Edinburgh promised to show the eye of a fly ‘magnified into an expanse of 12 feet, each of its many hundred pupils assuming the size of a human eye’
In the early 1850’s, Maria bought a tenement which had once
been the townhouse of the old Laird of Cockpen. She then installed a camera obscura on top of it and exhibitions calling it Short’s Observatory (see image left) and Museum of Science and Art.
In 1892, Patrick Geddes, a famous town planner and sociologist, bought the Tower in a public auction. He re-named it the Outlook Tower because he wanted to change people’s outlook. Geddes used the camera obscura to change the way people looked at life and the interaction between town and country.
Although best known as the founder of modern town planning, Geddes’ background was in biology and sociology. Geddes lived in the New Town, like most reasonably affluent people at the time, however he wanted to improve slum conditions in the Old Town, and so he moved to James Court near to the Camera Obscura and improved its appearance, whitewashing the dull walls and introducing plants. He created the first University ‘halls of residence’ at Milne’s Court, setting it up as an idealistic, self managing community with the mission not just to live there, but to influence those around.
Geddes and the Outlook Tower
In 1892, Geddes bought the Tower in a public auction, naming it the ‘Outlook Tower’ because he wanted to change people’s outlook. When taking tours, Geddes would first rush people up the original turnpike stair (currently our escape stair), all the way to the top. After the quick climb, with blood rushing to their heads, visitors were shown the Camera Obscura. Geddes used the Camera to show them ‘life’ as a whole and the relationship between the town and the countryside all around the town.
In the foyer outside the Camera were different coloured stained glass windows with subjects such as ‘botany’, ’zoology’ etc. Geddes wanted to stop people seeing life only through their own interest, or one colour window, but to grasp the wholeness and interdependency of life. The Camera showed the reality – all colours together. After seeing the Camera Obscura, visitors sat in a darkened meditation room – the inlook room – to internalise what they had learned, making it their own. Then visitors went down through the Tower – through the ‘Edinburgh Room’, then down through exhibitions about Scotland, Language, Europe and finally the World.
Later Geddes went to India, the Tower lost its ‘enchanter’, and the place became less of a hive of intellectual debate. However Geddes’ ideas live on and are still popular today, all around the world.
Edinburgh University owned the tower from the 1940’s to 1982 when it was sold to Visitor Centres Ltd. who also runs Landmark Centre, Carrbridge; Inveraray Jail and Landmark Press, a tourism publishing company.
The Camera Obscura has maintained many of its original characteristics; however there have been a few changes throughout the years. When it was originally built, there was only one lens, instead of three. Also, the distance between the lens and the image was much less. The same goes for the original table which was one floor higher up than the present one
OPEN EVERY DAY! (except 25th December)
SEASONAL OPENING HOURS
July – August: Every day 09:00-21:00
September – October: Every day 09:30-19:00
November – March: Every day 10:00-18:00 (Closed 25th December)
April – June: Every day 09:30-19:00
The last Camera Obscura presentation usually begins 1 hour before closing, or earlier in winter as the Camera Obscura works with daylight. It is recommend that you allow 2 hours for the visit.
STANDARD ADMISSION PRICES
Adult: £13.95, Senior: £11.95, Child (5 – 15 years): £9.95
*under 5’s go free
Lo-Call Number: 0871 288 7655
Visit: Just the Ticket, Atholl Road, Pitlochry
International Callers: 0044 1796 947011
My pictures are from the 2014 Enchanted Forest event, Elemental.
Our 2015 ticket prices are listed below:
Monday – Thursday
Child Under 3: FREE; Child 3 – 15: £7.00; Adult: £16.00; Family Ticket: £45.00
Monday – Thursday Prime Time (7pm – 8pm)
Child Under 3: FREE; Child 3 – 15: £9.00; Adult: £18.00; Family Ticket: £52.00
Friday, Saturday & Sunday
Child Under 3: FREE; Child 3 – 15: £10.00; Adult: £20.00; Family Ticket: £55.00
Prices are subject to change subject to demand and may increase as the event dates draw closer.
Children under 3 MUST have a ticket otherwise there will not be a seat allocated to them on the bus. All bus passengers MUST have tickets.
All tickets will be checked at departures and customers must have a valid physical ticket(s). Electronic tickets i.e emails on smart phones etc will not be accepted.
In the heart of Scotland with real hospitality, clear sparkling air, beautiful scenery, rich clan history, fine food, plenty of space and lots to see and do. Pitlochry is primarily a holiday destination, which caters for the holiday maker year round in its own special way. The people are knowledgeable, friendly and helpful as it has been a tourist destination for well over 150 years, counting Queen Victoria amongst its earlier visitors.
Pitlochry is set in spectacular scenery and is ideally located for touring Highland Perthshire or further afield with Edinburgh 75 minutes to the south, St Andrews 90 minutes to the south east, Loch Ness 95 minutes to the north and Braemar and Royal Deeside 90 minutes to the north east.
Access to the outdoors from Pitlochry is easy – whether on foot on way marked trails, by car on country roads, or by bicycle they are all catered for. The area has plentiful wildlife from red and roe deer to the soaring buzzard or the red squirrel. You are likely to see them all here and may be fortunate enough to see Pine Martins, Golden Eagles or Osprey.
Pitlochry Local Walks
Pitlochry, in the heart of Highland Perthshire, is a walker’s paradise. With its excellent network of well-marked routes, ranging from gentle strolls to challenging hikes, and surrounded by dramatic scenery, there is something for everyone to enjoy. All the Pitlochry walks start and finish in the town centre, avoiding the need to use a car, and they are clearly marked with colour-coded sign posts. Covering an area of approximately 20 square miles, there are nearly 41 miles of tracks and paths taking the visitor along river, burn and loch-side, through woodland and up hills, from where there are spectacular views.
One of the most popular short walks is a circular route from the main street, across the River Tummel to the dam on Loch Faskally, to view the salmon ladder and the Hydro Station, on through the ancient hamlet of Port na Craig, and back over the footbridge into Pitlochry. Another short hike takes the visitor through pretty woodland and up a gentle hill to the Edradour distillery – the smallest distillery in Scotland – and on the return journey, there are beautiful views across open farmland with Ben-y-Vrackie mountain as a backdrop.
Pitlochry and its surrounding area is steeped in history and folklore and, to discover more, stop at the National Trust for Scotland’s Visitor Centre on the Killiecrankie walk. Learn about the Battle of Killiecrankie and the Soldier’s Leap, see the Linn of Tummel waterfall, or spot salmon and admire the abundant bird life from one of the many bridges on this route.
For a more energetic experience, try the Bealach route which takes the walker up onto the moorland above Pitlochry offering, along the way, spectacular views south over the town and north towards Blair Atholl. Further afield, but still within easy reach of Pitlochry, are many other interesting walks including the Falls of Bruar to the north, the Hermitage to the south, and the Birks of Aberfeldy to the west. Whatever your ability, you will find a route to suit.
Ben y Vrackie Pitlochry
A hill walk crossing an area of typical Scottish moorland scenery, before rising to a summit with suburb panoramic views.
Distance: 6 Miles
A long, low-level circuit of a scenic loch, using woodland paths and a quiet minor road.
Distance: 8 Miles
Two easy woodland trails round Loch Dunmore, or little further round Dunmore Hills.
Distance: 8 Miles
Faskally via Garry Bridge
An almost level walk, except for some steps, partly on roads, partly along a nature trail footpath through woods.
Distance: 7 Miles
A quiet road walk to Logierait, with possible extension to Strathtay. Distance about 5 miles outwards, 8 km.
Distance: 5m Miles
Nestling on the edge of the town, Pitlochry Golf Club’s 18 hole par 69 course lies over rolling countryside at the foot of Ben-y-Vrackie mountain, with a magnificent panorama stretching over the Tummel valley. The Club is open to members, visitors, beginners and experienced golfers alike, and everyone is welcome to enjoy the first class facilities that the Club has to offer. These include an excellent pro shop, run by PGA Professional Mark Pirie, offering a wide range of advice, tuition, clothes and equipment, a newly refurbished clubhouse with a first-rate restaurant and bar, corporate packages, and special offers throughout the year.
Originally laid out in 1908 by Willie Fernie of Troon, and opened in 1909, Pitlochry Golf Club has recently been nominated by Golf World, the UK’s leading golf magazine, as one of its 66 “Hidden Gems”. The Club is Perthshire’s only nominee on this list, and the award acknowledges that these Hidden Gem courses merit much greater attention than they have enjoyed so far.
The Highland Open, hosted by Pitlochry Golf Club, offers the chance for Ladies, Gents and Junior amateur players of all handicaps to compete on this picturesque course. There are on and off course events during the competitions, plenty of lively social life, and the opportunity to meet and make new friends. Pitlochry Golf Week, which has been a firm favourite for over 30 years, is a packed week of golfing fun in June, for players of all ages and abilities.
Although there is a putting green at the main Club, there is another 18 hole putting course hidden away on the other side of Pitlochry (in Rie-Achan Road). This offers an excellent training ground for players at all levels, with its undulating landscape, and some surprisingly difficult terrain.
Whatever the time of year, there will be something on offer to golfers and non-golfers at Pitlochry Golf Club.
For more information please visit http://www.pitlochrygolf.co.uk
Enjoy salmon, trout and grayling fishing in the ‘Heart of the Highlands’
Fishing includes superb salmon and trout beats on the River Tummel and River Garry as well as bank and boat fishing on Loch Bhac and Loch Kinardochy for rainbow trout and brown trout respectively.
On the Portnacrig/Pitlochry beat below the dam the 5 year average catch is around 150 salmon with April and May normally being the best months. On the Lower Tummel beat the club has fishing from time to time which provides good sport for salmon and summer grilse.
For more interesting and peaceful fishing, the Ruan Ruarie beat on the river Garry is popular after May when the salmon move up into the headwater reaches of the Tilt and Errochty water.
The River Tummel below the Dam is one of the finest brown trout rivers in Scotland while the Upper Tummel above the Falls of Tummel is a smaller river with some nice rocky pools and runs.
Loch Bhac is set in a beautiful location and can be fished from boat or bank for rainbow trout.
Loch Kinardochy is located in the hills above loch Tummel and contains some lovely brown trout up to 2-3lbs.
Contact the club mobile – 07541404048 for any advice and assistance
Pitlochry Angling Club
PO Box 7222
Tel: 07541 404048
Pitlochry Water Sports
Loch Faskally was formed when the Tummel Valley was dammed for the Hydro scheme at Pitlochry. It was the last of the dams in the Hydro schemeand there is a major power station at it’s base. Built into the dam is not only a fish ladder, but also a public viewing gallery, from April to October you will often see salmon as they pass through the ladder. Around 5500 ascend the dam every year.
While fishing on Loch Faskally you can enjoy some of Pitlochry’s most breathtaking scenery and catch a glimpse of some rare wildlife ie osprey, heron, eagles, kingfishers, ducks, otters and deer.
Total adventure in Pitlochry, Highland Perthshire – the best of Scotland, with a difference. A taster day for an office day out, a relaxing break for all the family – or a week long package of outdoor activities for a group of kids. Or a superb, residential fun or business event in Highland Perthshire – the ‘very best of Scotland’
Highland Fling Bungee
We are the UK’s first and only purpose built jump platform. A once-in-a-lifetime free-fall experience of 40 metres towards water from a bridge with one of Scotlands most iconic views. Open all year round
National Trust Killiecrankie Visitor Centre
Perthshire, PH16 5LG
One of Europe’s leading adventure sports providers providing award-winning outdoor adventure activities from their base in Perthshire. Fantastic White Water Rafting on the River Tay & River Tummel, Canyoning in the Falls of Bruar, Adventure and White Water Tubing, the UK’s first Aqualine, land activities such as Quad Biking and Paintball and adventure activities for under 12’s at Wee Limits. Offering multi activity days and activity breaks with a range of accommodation options. Catering for individuals, adventurers, families, stag & hen groups and schools.
Unit 1 & 2, Ballinluig
Perthshire, PH9 0LG
Tel: 01796 482600
A short drive from Pitlochry, along a winding tree-lined road, hugging the River Tummel, lies the Queen’s View. This famous vantage point looks out over one of the most iconic panoramas in Scotland, directly to the west along Loch Tummel from where, on a clear day, you can sometimes see the mountains surrounding Glencoe by the West Coast. A popular destination since Victorian times, it is often thought that the location was named after Queen Victoria who did, in fact, visit in 1866 . However, it is more widely believed to have been named after Queen Isabella the 14th century wife of Robert the Bruce who used the spot as a resting place on her travels
Just beside the car/coach park at the Queen’s View there is an excellent tea room which serves delicious lunches, teas and cakes from April until the end of October. Across the courtyard is a first class visitor centre, provided by the Forestry Commission, with a video corner showing local wildlife and history, and a shop stocked with a wide range of guide books, covering the flora and fauna of Highland Perthshire, as well as maps and gifts. There are also toilets.
The surrounding area of Strathtummel makes up part of Perthshire’s Big Tree Country and there are plenty of beautiful forest walks nearby. From Allean Forest, just west of Queen’s View, take in the magnificent views over Loch Tummel, and look out for the remains of an 8th century ring fort and a reconstructed 18th century farmstead. Recently two kilometres of paths, and more bridges, have been added, making access to the forest even easier for visitors. Allean Forest is currently closed to the public, following considerable storm damage, so please check http://www.perthshirebigtreecountry.co.uk for further details
Are you visiting and staying in Pitlochry and want to find out what’s on? The below events are on during the year…
New Years Day Party
Winter Words Festival
Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Ladies Highland Open
Mens Highland Open
Pitlochry in Autumn
McKays Bar & Restaurant
We pride ourselves that all the meat used in our menu is Scottish and supplied by local Pitlochry Butcher, McDonald Brothers, who have been supplying Pitlochry for fifty years. All their produce is direct from local Scottish farms.
McKays Bar & Restaurant
140 Atholl Road
Pitlochry. PH16 5AG
Tel: 01796 473888
Steakhouse at Acarsaid Hotel
The Steakhouse at Acarsaid embraces the region’s plentiful harvest and has created a menu that celebrates the great and the good of Scottish beef, lamb, pork and chicken. Most of our fresh fish and shellfish have been sourced straight from the West Coast. Relax, have a pre-dinner in one of our comfortable lounges whilst choosing from our menu or daily specials.
Open from 5:45 every evening in the main season. Booking is recommended to avoid disappointment.
8 Atholl Road,
Pitlochry, Perthshire, PH16 5BX
Tel: 01796 472389
Knockendarroch – Hotel & Restaurant
Daily changing menu in our AA two rosette restaurant. Pre-theatre dining available. Restaurant booking essential. Contemporary country house style in a quiet, elevated position in central Pitlochry. Stunning panoramic views of Pitlochry and Highland Perthshire from most of our 12 en-suite bedrooms. Comfortable guest lounges with log fires. Free wifi throughout.
Knockendarroch – Hotel & Restaurant
Pitlochry, PH16 5HT
Tel: 01796 473473
Strathgarry Restaurant & Rooms
At the Strathgarry we have built an excellent reputation for serving a variety of traditional Scottish dishes using fresh and local produce.
Our restaurant opens daily from 9am serving a wide range of breakfast items. Coffee, tea and a range of cakes and freshly baked pastries are served all day until 6pm. Our main menu is available all day with lunch time specials served from 12pm until 6pm and evening specials served till closure.
Opening Times: Open daily from 9am
113 Atholl Road
Pitlochry. PH16 5AG
Tel: 01796 472469
Victoria’s Restaurant & Coffee Shop
Family owned, with the emphasis on friendly, attentive service, in informal surroundings. Serving breakfasts, specialty coffees & teas, patisserie, home baking, lunches & light meals 9.30am to 5.30pm. From 5.30pm provides a bistro style dinner menu with freshly made Italian pizzas, fajitas, charcoal grilled steaks, seafood, pasta, burgers, vegetarian dishes & traditionally Scottish fayre.
Victoria’s of Pitlochry
45 Atholl Road
Tel: 01796 472670
East Haugh House
If you’re looking for delicious food in Pitlochry then this award-winning restaurant is the perfect choice. East Haugh House is a stunning 16th century turreted stone house located just a mile south of Pitlochry in the picturesque Perthshire countryside. Hailed as a hidden gem with ‘the best food in the area’, the menu focuses on locally sourced seafood and game dishes including scallops, venison, and the famous ‘East Haugh’ burger with hand-cut chips! East Haugh House has an extensive a la carte menu as well as daily specials. The menu is served in the Fisherman’s Bar with cosy log fire, or the beautiful Two Sisters Restaurant. Pre-theatre meals available.
East Haugh House Hotel
Tel: 01796 473121
Good, Honest Food…and just a short worthwhile drive from Pitlochry. Warm and snug with log fires, a friendly welcome and good honest food, well cooked with locally sourced produce where ever possible. Nothing beats the taste and comfort of real home made food and that is what we at the Logierait Inn strive to offer our valued customers – nothing is too much trouble.
The Logierait Inn, nr Ballinluig,
Pitlochry, Perthshire, PH9 0LJ
Tel: 01796 482423
The Clubhouse Bar & Restaurant
The Pitlochry Golf Clubhouse is popular with golfers, visiting parties, local families and tourists. The clubhouse has an open licence and is open to all, serving a wide selection of filled rolls, light meals and home baking throughout the day. A great value evening menu and wine list make the restaurant the ideal spot in town to enjoy good company and quality food (from local suppliers).
The Clubhouse Bar & Restaurant
Golf Course Road
Tel: 01796 472334
A beautiful traditional stone built cottage, in the centre of Pitlochry’s charming main street, Fern Cottage has oodles of charm and character. Our menus combine the finest Scottish ingredients with the best of mediteranean hospitality, offering a unique mix of flavours, tastes and culture. All our food is freshly cooked when make your choice.
Tel: 01796 473840
The Chippy at McKays
Ardchoille comes form the Gaelic meaning the ‘High wood’. It started life in 1961 when it opened as a place where you could have a coffee and listen to the juke box. The Chippy at McKays has been continuously owned by the same family since it opened and has served well over one million fish and chips. Indoor and out door patio seating during the summer.
The Chippy at McKays
140 Atholl Road
Pitlochry. PH16 5AG
Tel: 01796 472170
Pitlochry is on the main A9 Scottish trunk road system so it is easy to travel by car to Pitlochry. You will find the roads relatively free of traffic compared to the big towns and cities in the south. Our equivalent of a traffic jam is being stuck behind a caravan or tractor.
Heathergems is my favourite shop in Pitlochry. I love it!!
Heathergems Visitor Centre and Factory Shop is in Pitlochry, Perthshire, Scotland. Come and visit us and watch this unique and wonderful process from start to finish in our viewing gallery. Watch as our skilled craftspeople handcraft the Heathergems from natural Scottish heather and see how we make this unique Scottish jewellery and Celtic giftware.
We have a wide range of Heathergems and other Scottish products in our Factory Shop. You will find many shop specials and discounted items only available in our shop. We have an extensive range of Heathergems on sale in many different styles and colours sure to appeal to all ages. We are the ONLY manufacturers of this unique jewellery in the world.
Location & Opening Times
Heathergems Visitor Centre
& Factory Shop
22 Atholl Road, Pitlochry
Perthshire, PH16 5BX
+44 (0)1294 313222
+44 (0)1796 474391
We are open 7 days a week
Monday to Sunday from 9 am to 5pm
Heathergems is a unique and imaginative range of Scottish jewellery and giftware, made in Pitlochry, Scotland from natural heather stems. We are the only manufacturers of this unique Scottish product anywhere in the world.
A division of Charles Buyers & Co Ltd, Heathergems is a family run business based in Pitlochry, Scotland. Heathergems have been produced since the 1950s, shortly after the Second World War. There was a shortage of wood and certain types were rationed and could only be used for limited purposes.
A group of four men set up a workshop near Loch Lomond, where they used small branches of beech wood compressed together to produce flooring tiles. The process was too expensive to produce a floor and only lasted a short time.
Hugh Kerr a craftsman from Glenlivet developed the process using heather stems and started making Heathergems in very small quantities in his own workshop. In 1969 Hugh met Charles Buyers, a Glasgow Accountant, who was looking for craft industries to be set up in the Highlands as a project for the then Highlands and Islands Development Board. The board decided that it was not viable so Charles decided to put his own money behind Heathergems.
The original company was set up in a small factory in East Kilbride and began producing Heathergems in the spring of 1970. A few years later it was decided it should be moved to a more natural home in the Highlands. As a result, the company moved to Blair Atholl in Perthshire in 1979. Hugh Kerr died in 1974 and Charles Buyers in 1992. The family decided to move to a new factory in Pitlochry. This has been developed over the years and now includes and shop and visitor centre.
Heathergems are now stocked in many shops throughout the UK and across the world. We are the only manufacturers of this patented product.
Below are some examples of what you can buy in both the shop and online at their website.
Traditional Scottish Thistle Brooch in Pewter.
Supplied in a gift box with story card on how we make Heathergems. Heathergems are unique and no two are ever exactly the same.
Handcrafted in Scotland.
Dimensions: 37L x 30W mm
Product code: CHB1
Macintosh Silver Plated Heathergem Drop Earrings.
Supplied in a gift box with story card on how we make Heathergems. Heathergems are unique and no two are ever exactly the same.
Handcrafted in Scotland.
Dimensions: 18L x 18W mm
Product code: HE77
Heathergem Oval Ring
Heathergem Silver Plated Ring.
Supplied in a gift box with story card on how we make Heathergems. Heathergems are unique and no two are ever exactly the same.
Handcrafted in Scotland.
Dimensions: Open Backed
Product code: HR4
Tree Of Life Pendant
Tree of Life Silver Plated Heathergem Pendant.
Handcrafted in Scotland.
Dimensions: 26mm x 26mm
Chain: 18″ Plated Chain
Product code: HP100
Open Heart Pendant
Open Heart Heather Pendant.
Beautiful handmade all Heathergem pendant.
Handcrafted in Scotland.
Dimensions: 34L x 32W mm
Chain: 20″ Silver Plated Chain.
Product code: HP40
Great Gift Idea.
Supplied in an attractiveorganza bag with story card on how we make Heathergems. Heathergems are unique and no two are ever eactly the same.
Handcrafted in Scotland.
Dimensions: L x W mm
Product code: HG11
Heathergem Hair Clasp.
Handcrafted in Scotland.
Dimensions: 80L x 22W mm
Product code: SS01H
Celtic Picture Frame
Celtic Picture Frame
Heathergem Celtic Pewter Picture Frame.
Handcrafted in Scotland.
Dimensions: 69 L x 57 W mm
Product code: HG10
Medium Heather Block End
Medium Heather Block End
Medium Heather Block End.
Please note price is for one block end and colours will be selected at random.
The dyed heather stems are compressed into a block. The block end is a section cut from the top of the heather block.
The unique and beautiful heather grain makes this a great and unusual Scottish ornament or gift.
Supplied with a story card on how we make Heathergems. Heathergems are unique and no two are ever exactly the same.
Handcrafted in Scotland.
Dimensions: Approx 105mm x 60mm
Product code: HBE2
Scottie Dog Brooch
Scottie Dog Heathergem Brooch.
Made from Scottish Heather.
Handcrafted in Scotland.
Dimensions: 35mm x 25mm
Product code: HB16
Where possible we aim to match the colour in the picture but unless a specific colour is requested in the special instruction box at checkout colours may vary
Brochure page number: 15
No animals, no children. But it makes sense as the cottage is right on the river.
Nestled at the end of a secluded, private track and overlooking the beautiful River Avon, this lovingly restored former watermill provides the ultimate romantic hideaway and features river views from the verandahs. The sights and sounds of the river as it gently flows over the rapids can be enjoyed from the luxury of an outdoor hot tub or the two verandahs, one of which can be accessed from one of the double bedrooms – visitors can even try a little trout fishing. Historic Linlithgow’s many amenities are 4 miles; Edinburgh is a 25 mile drive, or by train (every 15 minutes) from Linlithgow.
We arrived early and lost due to difficulties getting through Linlithgow as it was Gala day. We phoned the owners who gave us very clear directions and were happy to let us in early. They waited for us on the wall outside their cottage and the male owner (I’m awful at remembering names) took us down to the cottage and showed us round and gave loads of information about the area, about how they had tranformed the ruined mill into a glorious place to stay!
Now I have to say it, it’s noisy. I mean REALLY loud. The water rushes past fast and produces a massive amount of noise!
Ground floor: Living room/kitchen. Dining room. Utility room. Bathroom with bath, shower cubicle and toilet. First floor: 2 double bedrooms. Shower room with toilet.
Oil CH, elec, bed linen and towels inc. Freesat TV. DVD. M/wave. W/machine. T/dryer. Payphone. Garden and furniture. Two verandahs. Parking. Hot tub. Fishing foc. No smoking. No children under 18 years. NB: Unfenced river in garden.
The hot tub was amazing and we went in every night!
Highland Folk Museum give visitors a flavour of how Highland people lived and worked from the 1700s up until the 1960s! They manage this by displaying over 30 historical buildings and furnishing them appropriate to their time period. Some have been built from scratch on site and some have been moved here from other locations.
The site is a mile long with the 1700s Township (featuring 6 houses) at one end through to the 1930s working croft at the other.There’s an on site cafe, gift shop and a children’s playground.
The Museum is located at Newtonmore in the Scottish Highlands amidst some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.
Also home to ‘Am Fasgadh’ storing 10,000 artefacts plus high quality meeting rooms, a research library, conservation laboratory and suite of offices.
Open April – August 10.30 – 17.30 September – October 11.00 – 16.30
No entry charge. Open 7 days.
The Highland Folk Museum has a wide range of facilities to ensure a comfortable and
enjoyable visit for your visit.
Assistance dogs are welcome. For all other dogs there is a fenced dog creche at reception, which has shelter and water provided to enable you to leave your dog when visiting the Museum. Please speak to a member of our team for advice on dog walks nearby.
Toilet and baby changing facilities can be found at our main reception area and are also available at Croft and Township.
Free parking is available at the Museum for all visitors. We have a large car park with bays for coaches and marked spaces for less able visitors beside the reception entrance.
Don’t miss purchasing your copy of our guidebook, with colour photos and lots of information on all our buildings across the site, it is the perfect companion to your visit. Guidebooks and basic maps are also available to purchase from our reception, shop and sweetie shop.
I can’t reccomend it enough and the fact that it’s free entrance means it’s a must have stop for everyone.
The café has a range of hot and cold foods and drinks. From freshly made soup and sandwiches, to delicious cakes and sweet treats. Along with kids meals, vegetarian and gluten free options our café has something for everyone.
The café has seating for 40, disabled access via a ramp and a large outdoor picnic area with a kids play area alongside.
Kirk’s Store Sweetie Shop
There is a traditional sweet shop – named after the Kirk family who farmed Aultlarie Croft prior to the museum moving onto this site – is a popular attraction for our visitors all year round.
This recreation of a 1930’s sweet shop offers visitors the chance to indulge their sweet tooth and nostalgia by buying a wee poke of traditional sweets such as ‘Soor Plums’, ‘Liquorice Comfits’, ‘Lucky Tatties’ and many more.
The gift shop is located by the museum entrance and offers a range of themed gifts, souvenirs, local crafts, outdoor toys and lots more. Along with cold drinks, ice creams for the sunshine or woolly hats and ponchos for those rainy days the gift shop is an essential stop off for your visit to the museum.
You can even get married there!
The Highland Folk Museum is a stunning and unique setting for a wedding.
The museum is licenced to hold weddings and civil partnerships anywhere on the site so you are able to hold your ceremony in any of our historic buildings such as Leanach Church, outdoors or in a marquee if you desire.
After your ceremony the museum is a fantastic place for your post ceremony celebrations. The large, outdoor spaces can play host to marquees of any size to accommodate your plans for a drinks reception, wedding meal and dance.
Please note: Edinburgh Zoo is located on Corstorphine Hill, and some of the paths around the park involve steep slopes. We would advise visitors to plan their route and bring suitable footwear – the views from the top are worth it! The workout on your calf muscles has got to be equivalent to hours in the gym!
It’s hard work but there are a lot of benches to take breaks.
Trying to find the tigers? Lost near the lemurs? With over 80 acres of hillside parkland it can be hard to find your way around but the staff are very helpful, there are loads of maps and you can download one off the website so you can plan your trip before you go. Also the guidebook is informative and has loads of information on the various animals and getting around.
Wet weather and Indoor Activities
11 indoor animal housing areas and 6 sheltered observation areas ensure that even on a rainy day, a trip to the Zoo is an enthralling experience.
We didn’t get to see many of the big cats as they were cleaning enclosures at that time. And it took ages!
However we hung around near the lions and were able to watch feeding time.
Price as of 3/4/15 – 1/11/15
Child 3 – 15 years
Child (under 3)
Wheelchair and Mobility Access
Many of the paths around the Zoo can be accessed by wheelchair. However some routes involve steps or steep slopes which are unsuitable for wheelchairs.
We are also pleased to be able to offer a dedicated mobility vehicle to help visitors access areas of the park that may otherwise be difficult to reach.
I’m not sure if they are still doing it or how long it will last but they were doing specific studies on the lifes of various monkey species when we were there.
The information was really interesting and we were able to get really close.
Museum dedicated to the life of Jim Clark, twice world motor racing champion in the 1960’s. Contains a unique collection of memorabilia, trophies and photographs.
(Opening times should always be confirmed prior to travelling.)
Tel: 01361 883960
It’s not big and it’s not flashy but any fan of F1 would love it. There is loads of things to look at.
You can’t take pictures inside and the gift shop area is expensive.