Boxing Day – Sweetie Scone Day

As today is Boxing Day I thought I’d look at what would traditionally happen on Boxing  Day in Scotland.   The term ‘Boxing Day’ started many centuries ago, where the Lord and Lady of the manor/castle/estate gathered together at the manor house, castle etc., the workers including those from the outlying fields, forests and streams, the day after Christmas Day and organised the distribution of the annual necessities, done according to the status of the worker and the size of the family.

So nothing to do with canny Scots having a punch up over a Boxing Day sale.

Scottish Farm Servants

Scottish Farm Servants

Into boxes and barrels would go supplies of cloth spun by the spinsters, the cobblers leather goods, new tools and supplies of salt and spices. Also dried goods such as meat, fish, vegetables and some fruit and cereals grown on the estate for bread making. This the giving out of such boxes became “Boxing Day”.

Boxing Day wasn’t always on December 26th but the first working day after Christmas.

sweetie scone

sweetie scone

In some parts of Scotland Boxing Day was once known as ‘Sweetie Scone Day’, when the lords and ladies of great estates would make cakes with dried fruit and spices to distribute among the poor.

This tradition continued into regular working class homes where ‘sweetie-skons’ (Sweetie Scones), which contained dried fruit and spices, and were the forerunner of oor modern “Currant Loaf”. The ingredients more than likely given by the Lord or Lady of the estate, as there were few homes that could afford such luxury of dried fruit and spices, but friendly neighbours would make up the deficit to those that could not afford, nor had the ingredients. So it was the custom that either the Lord / Lady of the estate, to their workers, would invite them to sample or to give the ‘sweetie-skon’ or that neighbours would invite neighbours to sample or give the ‘Sweetie Scone’ to others.

A lovely idea that the community would look after it’s most vulnerable in this way.



About Amanda Moffet

I run with Rodger Moffet. Live in Edinburgh and love travelling around Scotland gathering stories.

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