Re-enactments reveal attempt to ban Christmas

13 December 2010

There is still time to book a place on exciting re-enactments being held next week [Thursday 16 December and Sunday 19 December] at the Tolbooth Museum, Castle Street, Aberdeen.

Set in Aberdeen's 17th century prison, the event will explore the attempts by the new Protestant authorities to ban Christmas in the decades after the reformation of 1560.

The fascinating and fun tour is part of Aberdeen's Winter Trails and just one of the events on offer during Aberdeen's Winter Festival.

The Kirk wanted Christmas Day to be a normal working day, like any other and that there should be no celebration. Inevitably they met resistance. People were opposed to losing their old festivities: records show that parties were held in the Castlegate, with men dressing as women and women as men which were perhaps the origins of our pantomime dame tradition.

The Protestant authorities prosecuted and punished people mercilessly for these 'crimes'. On the tour there will be a chance to meet the Tolbooth gaoler and the town's minister as they prepare the Tolbooth to receive new prisoners who had broken the new rules about Christmas.

The event will finish in the basement of local restaurant La Lombarda where seasonal refreshments will be provided.

Aberdeen City Council historian Chris Croly said: "These new tours should be a lot of fun. The new Kirk authorities had a real bee in their bonnet about Christmas so people were reluctant to change and the stage was set for a feisty battle between the two.

"Once again it is fantastic to be working with the people at La Lombarda as they always provide a warm welcome to people on the tours and a great glass of mulled wine."

Winter Trails at the Tolbooth are at the following times:

Thursday 16 December
6pm and 8pm

Sunday 19 December
4pm and 6pm

Advance booking is required as places are limited. Please telephone (01224) 523700 to reserve a place now. Tickets cost £7, £6 (concession and friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums).

For more information on Aberdeen's Winter Festival log onto