School Christmas Celebrations – changing attitudes, 1891 and 1952

It is not that long ago in Scotland when Christmas was not celebrated in the same way as it is today at all. The Church of Scotland discouraged lavish celebrations at this time seeing Christmas as a time for prayer and religious observance. Many people worked and businesses were open on the 25th of December. The Archives holds many editions of local newspapers that were sold on Christmas Day. The important holiday at this time was New Year’s Eve or Hogmanay. That was when the Scots let their hair down and came together to celebrate the ending of another year and their hopes for the coming New Year.

This is reflected in the school log book for Bridge of Allan Primary School for 1891. School business goes on as usual up until the 24th of December with the School Inspector visiting, and there are no Christmas parties for the children. The days that the school closes for the festive season between the Christmas Eve and the 4th of January are referred to as the ‘New Year Holiday’. It is noted that attendance on Christmas Eve is low because of ‘many of the pupils being engaged by the tradespeople in going messages’ presumably in preparation for the holiday.

By 1952, attitudes have changed entirely. The pupils of Raploch Primary School have their Christmas parties on the 22nd and 23rd of December and there is a Christmas service for the whole school on Christmas Eve, after which it is recorded that the school closed for the ‘Christmas holidays’.

Here we have schoolchildren from Callander all dressed up for their Christmas party in the 1920s.