Nostalgia: Festive frolics and flying feathers

Christmas poultry sale at the Central Meat Market Co. Ltd. in Ponton Street, Edinburgh

Christmas poultry sale at the Central Meat Market Co. Ltd. in Ponton Street, Edinburgh

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THE city’s annual Christmas celebrations are in full swing now, with crowds once again wrapping up warm and heading out in their droves to enjoy the German Market on The Mound and the range of entertainments in Princes Street Gardens.

Over the last decade the city has put a lot of work into ensuring its festive entertainment is among the best in the world, attracting thousands of people from around the world to come and experience the special atmosphere of the 
season.

Catherine Ritchie enjoys a ride on the merry-go-round at the Christmas Carnival in the Waverley Market in Edinburgh in December 1967.

Catherine Ritchie enjoys a ride on the merry-go-round at the Christmas Carnival in the Waverley Market in Edinburgh in December 1967.

And it’s no surprise that Edinburgh is so adept at helping people celebrate the most special day of the year – it’s a tradition almost as old as the Capital itself.

Back in 1965 the city was always a bustling hub of activity as residents looked to get everything ready for the big day, and one of the main events was always the Christmas poultry sale at the Central Meat Market in Ponton Street. At a time when turkeys weren’t found ready-prepared on supermarket shelves, getting the perfect Christmas bird was bit more of a challenge, and crowds would flock to take their pick from the impressive array of hanging fowl.

Of course, the city has always been keen to cater to needy shoppers at this time of year, and in 1980 local councillor Phyllis Herriot cut the ribbon to officially open the annual hypermarket at the Assembly Rooms on George Street. The market gave charities an opportunity to sell their goods in a large central location, and organisers could help raise more than £50,000 for good causes.

It wasn’t all about shopping, though – as with today’s Winter Wonderland the city has always been eager to put on 
entertainment for kids of all ages, and back in 1967 local youngsters liked nothing more than a trip to the Christmas carnival.

The annual event would set up in the Waverley Market, and featured whirling waltzers, merry-go-rounds and stalls of all varieties to entertain youngsters.

The carnival also catered to the older generation, with rows of mini-bingo machines set up for the ladies to enjoy.

gedwards@edinburghnews.com