In any other year than this one, Scotland's cities and towns would be gearing up for their Christmas celebrations with lights, markets and Santa all lighting up the country for the month of December.

The pinnacle of winter, it's hard to imagine a time when Scotland didn't make a huge effort with its Christmas celebrations.

However, there was a time when Christmas was effectively BANNED across the country.

Christmas lights can now be seen across the country.

Christmas in Scotland

Though Christmas is considered to be a religious holiday, it is actually due to religion that it ended up becoming an illicit activity to celebrate this holiday.

Beginning in 1560 when the majority of Scotland split from the Catholic Church, in a period known as the Scottish Reformation, the Yuletide celebrations (which combined the Viking Yule celebrations with the Christian Christmas) were effectively removed from the calendar.

Associated with Roman Catholicism at the time, the Church of Scotland disapproved and did not believe the day should be celebrated as it didn't reflect what was written in the bible.

Some sections of the Kirk even went as far as to threaten to excommunicate anyone caught observing the holiday - some were even ordered to make public repentance when caught.

The National Trust for Scotland's Ana Sanchez explained: "If you celebrated Christmas, it was a serious crime. We have records of people being excommunicated and punished that were caught.

"In Glasgow, there was a trial held for five people for celebrating Christmas. Each of them were forced to repent."

Nearly a hundred years later, an Act of Parliament of Scotland in 1640 made the celebrating of Yuletide illegal, leading to most Scots focusing all of their energies on the established festival of Hogmanay - a tradition that echoes to this day.

This ban was officially repealed in 1712, but the Kirk continued to frown upon the festive celebrations - meaning Christmas remained a very muted affair in most Scottish households.

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Public Holiday

In Victorian times, the mood of the public towards Christmas had begun to change with growing interest in celebrating once again.

Contact between Scots and the rest of the UK continued to blur the lines, though New Year still remained the dominant holiday in Scotland.

Incredibly, it wasn't until 1958 that Christmas was added as a public holiday.

Scots still had to soldier on working on Boxing Day until it too became an official holiday in 1974.

Even today, many Scots of a certain age still see Hogmanay as the real holiday and Christmas as something of an imposter.

Thankfully, though this year's celebrations may once again be a bit muted you won't face punishment for having a wee mince pie or two.