Scotland’s political leaders have urged people to pay special attention to children, the elderly and people in hardship this Christmas.
Nicola Sturgeon, Kezia Dugdale, Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie also offered their thoughts to those working to keep people safe at home and abroad.
First Minister and SNP leader Ms Sturgeon was joined by eight-year-olds from Forthview Primary at her Bute House residence in Edinburgh to deliver her “Merry Christmas” message on social media.
She said: “The sound of excited children ringing round Bute House was a wonderful experience and there was no better opportunity to join in with them to wish everyone a very happy Christmas.”
She released film featuring footage from the launch of the First Minister’s Christmas card, which has been sold to raise money for Enable Scotland, Children 1st, Books Abroad and the Scottish Refugee Council.
Ms Dugdale, Scottish Labour leader, said Christmas is “a great time of year” but can also be “a difficult period” for some.
“Whether it’s elderly people living alone, those without a home, or children in care, we all have a responsibility to do our bit to help,” she said.
“As we enjoy the holidays, we think of those who do so much for our country. We pay tribute to our Armed Forces, particularly those involved in conflict right now.
“No matter our view of the decisions of government leaders, no-one can doubt the bravery of those who serve our country.
“Those who work in our emergency services will also keep our hospitals open and streets safe in the next few weeks.
“They quietly go about their business all year round without much fuss. Now is the time of year to show our appreciation.”
Ms Davidson, Scottish Conservative leader, said Christmas is “a special time of year” but “can also be cruel”.
“If you’re lonely, worried about your job, your marriage or relationship is in difficulty or you are suffering from bereavement, far from being the best time of year Christmas can be the hardest,” she said.
“I hope everyone can find time to enjoy themselves but also to make those precious couple of phone calls or visits to those who – at this time of year more than ever – need to hear a friendly voice or see a familiar face.”
Mr Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, hailed Scotland’s response to the darkest moments of 2015, including the war in Syria and the Paris attacks.
“Where there is darkness there is also light,” he said.
“The response across the globe to the Paris attacks was uplifting. Singing together at the football, standing together on the streets and even the United Nations speaking together with one voice showed that we are at one against Daesh.
“The response we have seen to the refugee crisis in Scotland makes me enormously proud and gives me hope for the future.
“It is often the most difficult circumstances that bring out the best in people. In many respects, we have seen the very best of Scotland this year.”
He added: “My thoughts over the festive season are with those who work to keep us safe – police, fire, nurses, doctors, soldiers and so many others.
“But I have a special thought this year for the many thousands who have a mental illness.
“My plea is for everyone to reach out and offer a hand of friendship at what could be a difficult time in their lives. Small gestures can make a huge difference.”