Scotland’s political leaders have expressed their festive best wishes on Christmas Eve.
Nicola Sturgeon, Douglas Ross and Anas Sarwar all reflected on the challenges faced by Scots in recent years as they wished families across the country a peaceful Christmas.
This year is also the first Christmas since 2019 without any Covid-19 restrictions, meaning the return of a more traditional festive period for most across the country.
Holyrood’s leaders also acknowledged all those facing a difficult time during the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
In her Christmas message, Scotland’s First Minister said it is important for people across the country to think about how they can help others.
“Especially after the past two Christmases, I know most of us will be really looking forward to this festive period,” said Sturgeon.
“The chance to gather with family, friends and loved ones really is something to cherish.
“Of course, the cost of living crisis is making this a very hard winter for many.
“So this Christmas, it’s important for all of us to also think about how we can help others.
“Maybe donating to charity if we can, or helping out in our communities, or visiting a neighbour or friend who might be on their own and want some support or company.
“I know many will already be doing exactly that – showing compassion and companionship and helping make the festive period that bit brighter for everyone, so thank you.”
The First Minister gave her “heartfelt thanks” to all those working over Christmas, including emergency service workers.
“I also want to thank all those for whom Christmas isn’t a holiday at all,” she continued.
“The men and women serving in our armed services, those caring for us in the National Health Service, and looking after us in police and fire – indeed, all those working across our essential public and voluntary services.
“I am deeply grateful for all the work you do every year and throughout the year. But I am especially grateful for it know, knowing as I do, how tough times are.”
Sturgeon concluded: “So my heartfelt thanks to everyone working on our behalf this Christmas and to all those taking some time to help others.
“Most of all – wherever you are and whatever you are doing – I hope you have the best possible time over this festive period.
“I wish all of you a happy, healthy and peaceful Christmas. Merry Christmas.”
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross reflected on the death of Queen Elizabeth II as he expressed his sympathy for all those who have lost a loved one.
He said: “Merry Christmas. We’ve reached that time of year again. After two years of the pandemic scuppering everyone’s Christmas plans, Covid – while not gone – had been subdued thanks to the UK’s world-leading vaccine programme.
“For most of us, we can hopefully have a much more normal Christmas, perhaps spent with extended family and friends.
“However, while this Christmas may be a return to our usual festive traditions, for many of us there will be one, key difference.
“It was with tremendous sadness that we said goodbye to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, in September.
“For many people, watching her Christmas broadcasts will have been a lifelong tradition.
“My thoughts are with His Majesty King Charles and all of the late monarch’s family and friends, who must miss her terribly at this time. As well as those across the country who have lost loved ones this year and who may be finding the holiday period particularly difficult.”
Ross highlighted the value in spending time with family after coronavirus restrictions in 2020 and 2021.
“For me, after two years of restrictions, I know I am grateful than ever to be able to celebrate this festive season with my whole family,” said Ross.
“And from my family to yours, I would like to wish you all a peaceful, enjoyable and very merry Christmas.”
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar highlighted the challenges faced by those less fortunate.
“I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas,” said Sarwar in his Christmas message.
“Christmas is a time to celebrate and come together with loved ones and it’s a time of hope.
“I know it’s been an especially challenging year and Christmas is also a time when we think about those less fortunate than ourselves.
“Sadly, far too many children will wake up with little or nothing this Christmas Day.
“Many people will spend Christmas along with no-one to celebrate with. Others will be in temporary accommodation or sleeping rough.”
Sarwar paid tribute to emergency workers, along with volunteers who dedicate themselves to helping the most vulnerable.
He said: “We should also spare a thought for our doctors, nurses, Armed Forces and emergency service staff who work throughout Christmas every year to keep us safe.
“And we pay tribute to volunteers who spend their Christmas supporting those needing food and shelter, and all the charities doing amazing work to help the most vulnerable over the holiday period.
“To those that fill our Christmas with laughter, joy, hope and more – thank you so much.”
Sarwar added: “So from my family to yours and from all of us at Scottish Labour, we hope you have a happy, peaceful and safe Christmas. Merry Christmas everybody.”
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