It’s the Capital’s seasonal highlight, a festive market bursting with wintry goods from spicy mulled wine to hand-carved Yuletide knick-knacks.
But one city trader has bucked the trend by foregoing the traditional Christmas trinkets – and offering shoppers real-life reindeer hide instead.
The luxury fur products are being sold in the European section of the Christmas market off The Mound – alongside stalls packed with cheery ornaments depicting Santa’s sleigh being pulled by his fleet of magical reindeer.
But concerned shoppers and animal rights campaigners today slammed the stall as “shocking” and urged the council to ban the sale of fur.
The thick pelts cost between £70 and £450 depending on their quality and are taken from reindeer hunted and killed by traditional herders in the frozen forests of northern Finland – said to be the fictional home of Santa’s grotto.
Trader Stanislav Kadura, who is stocking the products alongside fur from foxes and other animals, defended selling the reindeer skin and insisted his goods were ethically sourced.
The 31-year-old said: “This is genuine Finnish reindeer herder fur. The reindeer roam semi-free – reindeer is a semi-wild animal. They are bred traditionally, and the traditional Finnish people live off them and use every part of the animal.
“When they slaughter them for food part of their philosophy is everything has to be used. It’s very ethical and certified. It’s a way of life for them.”
He added: “What I would say is that the animal is not being wasted – the life is not being wasted. So many farmers in Britain slaughter the animal and the hide goes to waste. The reindeer herders are traditional and part of their philosophy is to use all the animal.”
But one shopper and mother-of-three from Blackhall, who asked not to be named, insisted she was left so shocked by the fur she planned to boycott the Christmas market for good.
She said: “I think it’s absolutely shocking and disgusting. I’m not some veggie activist but fur in general in this day and age is completely out of order – especially in a Christmas market where there are kids about. It’s inappropriate at a family Christmas market.
“It’s put me off going to the market. I definitely won’t be going back.”
Mimi Bekhechi, director of animal rights group PETA UK, condemned the stall and called on Edinburgh City Council to join high street retailers such as Jenners and Topshop by banning the sale of real fur on council land.
She added: “Christmas markets should be filled with festive cheer and family-friendly gifts, not the remains of a reindeer who was killed and skinned for the sake of a furry accessory.”
A spokesman for Edinburgh’s Christmas said: “Reindeer meat and hides are widely available in the UK, Europe and further afield.
“The products are ethically sourced, and while they may not be to everyone’s taste it should be remembered that some people will not wear leather jackets or shoes – that is all down to the view of the individual.
“We all have a right to hold our view, but there is nothing in the products that breaches any legal or ethical rules.”