The First Minister said it was “unlikely” people in Scotland will enjoy a Christmas without limits on household gatherings.
Nicola Sturgeon conceded December 25 will not be “absolutely normal” for any country this year, as leaders wrestle with the pandemic.
But she added there would be “more chance” of a more normal celebration if people stick with the “difficult restrictions” placed on them just now.
The comments came after national clinical director Jason Leitch warned Scots they should prepare for a “digital Christmas”, describing the prospect of large family gatherings with multiple families as “fiction for this year”.
Sturgeon said Professor Leitch was trying to “be frank with people about the reality we live in” and not rule things out or give people false hope.
When STV News asked the First Minister if Scots should begin planning for a digital Christmas, Sturgeon said: “I want us to be able to celebrate Christmas as normally as it is possible to do within the context of a global pandemic.
“My message to people is that the more we all stick with these really difficult restrictions right now, the more chance there will be of us doing that.
“Some of the really tough additional things the government is deciding right now, restrictions on hospitality for example and any other restrictions we feel necessary to put in place, will also be in part about trying to deal decisively with an upsurge in the virus now so we give ourselves the best chance of greater normality at Christmas.
“That’s part of the objective that we’re all working to right now. Christmas, this year, probably for no country anywhere, is going to be absolutely normal without any restrictions… I could stand here and try to tell you otherwise and think ‘well I’ll let people down nearer the time’.
“That’s not the right approach right now, so we’re unlikely to be able to celebrate Christmas with no limits on people in our houses and no limits to what we do, but the more we get this virus under control right now, the greater normality, the greater chance of having some ability to interact with our loved ones we will have.
“I know people want me to stand here right now and say definitively here’s what the rules will be on Christmas day. If I was forced to do that right now, if Christmas day was tomorrow, it would be a pretty harsh thing I would have to say to people.
“But Christmas day is not tomorrow so let’s try and work as hard as we can just now so we do get greater normality, even if it is not 100% normality.”