Christmas in Aberdeen
Saturday and Sunday, 24-Dec-2016 and 25-Dec-2016
This is Sarah and my’s second Christmas together; and our second Christmas celebrating in a different country than we usually live in. Go us, right? Let the new traditions begin…
Christmas day was our travel day from London, so we spent most of the day just relaxing and catching up with Sarah’s family – I finally got to meet her Brother Henry and his girlfriend Leah, and Sarah got a chance to catch up with everyone (the birds included!). But since our train did get into town pretty early, we had most of Christmas Eve to burn…
Drum Castle and the Falls of Feugh was our adventure for the day – a manor / castle nearby, and a small tea house near the town of Banchory. Drum castle was an amazing intro to Scotland – it was basically a fortified manor house; a defended tower surrounded by low walls, gardens, and neat little buildings. But it also has an amazing playground… which Sarah and I proved wasn’t just for kids. Feugh Falls afterward was a system shock, since we’d only been looking for a small place to have lunch. But instead, we found the tea house, which had been honored by Parliment as one of the best places in the area, and was far fancier than we’d expected. But we stepped up, Sarah coached me with her charm-school knowledge (I’m learning which forks to use when), and had a great time.
Christmas Eve was full of food and cheer, starting out after a nap to keep Sarah and my’s jet lag at bay.
We went to the early services at St. Machar’s Cathedral, where we enjoyed an excellent service and some neat cultural knowledge – a tradition there is the “christingle”… an orange with a candle (a glowstick, in our case) in the center, with four spears around it. It represents the light of Christmas, surrounded by the four seasons, with a ribbon around it representing the blood of the sacrifice.
Definitely interesting, and I loved getting the chance to see the full service in a cathedral that was first founded in 580… as in, over a thousand years before my home country was even founded. Of course, that original church (Kirk, technically, since it’s in Scotland) no longer exists, but the cross from the doorway is still around, and has a place of honor in the new cathedral. “New” being a relative term, since the new building was raised sometime in the 13th century.
Other trivia fact: St. Machar’s cathedral is the burial site of part of William Wallace. ¼ of Wallaces corpse (remember, he was drawn and quartered) was sent to St. Machar’s as a warning to other dissenters. Macabre.
The rest of Christmas eve was full of Hannukah lights, a great lamb-leg dinner (including tons of awesome scotchs that I’d never tried before), and celebration that everyone had made it into Aberdeen safely.
Christmas day! The day we open presents! Woo!
It was fun! This was the first full Christmas morning that I’ve had in a while, so us kids made the most of it… having a nice breakfast, getting all excited, opening presents, etc…
The rest of the day was pretty low-key, after the insanity of running downstairs and eating massive quantities of chocolate from our stockings. Henry and Leah brought a ton of candy for everyone… which is exactly what Sarah and I also did, as well as Bill and Greta. So, there was a lot of candy.
We did get energized enough to go for a short walk afterward though, before it got dark – one danger of Scotland is that the winter days are super short, thanks to the high latitude. So we jumped into some warm clothes, and explored the park near the house: a place called HazelHead park.
And we were, once again, reminded that we’re not in the States anymore. Scotland is old… and they love their monuments. Hazelhead had everything from this one fountain that was donated by a lord a few hundred years ago, to a huge memorial garden for the dead from an oil platform accident a few years back called Piper Alpha. It was really cool seeing such a wealth of history, even so far outside of a major city like London or Edinburgh.
Once we got home, it was already pretty much dark… but only 4:30 or so in the afternoon. So Sarah and I napped, then stepped up and helped make an amazing fusion dinner of turkey, cranberries, stuffing, and latkes! Combining Christmas dinner with Hannukah tradition? Yes please!