Edinburgh Evening News readers share their favourite Christmas memories in the Capital from yesteryear

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From meeting Santa at Goldbergs and Jenners to enjoying the Christmas market, our readers share their favourite memories from the festive period

Christmas can be a nostalgic time for many, with familiar sights, bright lights and carnival rides of towering heights returning to our city centre. And though Princes Street has seen many changes in recent years, from the loss flagship shops like Jenners, to the demolition of Waverly Market - one constant is that the beauty of Edinburgh’s city centre always delivers a magical festive season.

We asked our readers for their special Christmas memories from over the years - here’s what they had to say, and naturally, the famed Jenners Christmas tree got several mentions.

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Elaine Mossman said her favourite Christmas memory 'without a doubt' had to be the beloved longstanding Princes Street department store. Elaine said ‘the tree, their decorations, and the toy department where I cuddled as many teddies as I was allowed’ will always be ‘cherished memories.’

Edinburgh Evening News readers share their favourite Christmas memories. Photo credits: TSPL, Jon Savage, Graeme HunterEdinburgh Evening News readers share their favourite Christmas memories. Photo credits: TSPL, Jon Savage, Graeme Hunter
Edinburgh Evening News readers share their favourite Christmas memories. Photo credits: TSPL, Jon Savage, Graeme Hunter

Former Jenners employee, Kerry Mackenzie, said: “Working in Jenners department store was magical at Christmas. The buzz was fabulous. People were happy, excited and it was a joy to wrap their gifts and share the magic of Christmas with them. Changed days now, sadly.”

Remembering her annual family trips to Jenners and the Waverley Centre, Lynne Crawford Knight recalled one special memory as a child. She said: “I remember one year we were in the car driving home along Princes Street (the norm back then) when my parents noticed Santa crossing the road. It was night before Christmas Eve and they made it so exciting I believed I’d just seen Santa heading back to his parked sleigh to go back to the North Pole and get ready for Christmas!"

Christine Blackwood added: “Always remember going to Jenners and Patrick Thomson’s to see Santa and loved going to see the miniature trains going round in Princes Street railway station. I used to take my kids to Jenners, something they wish they could do with their kids. I think everyone misses Jenners.”

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But Jenners was not the only former department store that holds dear memories to many. Others remembered beloved stores from yesteryear including Goldbergs, Patrick Thomson’s and Grants. And there was also a dispute over which store had the best Santa.

Linda Hunter claimed ‘The Santa in Goldbergs was the best.’ Many others had fond memories of the former Tollcross department store, with Terri Johnstone adding: “I loved my wee visit to Santa at Goldbergs, it was the best experience.”

May Todd said: “As a child in the 1950s, going to Santa’s Grotto in Patrick Thompson’s was the best in town. Also going to the Carnival in Waverly Market.” Vera Clayton added: "I loved going to the Carnival with my sister. The Dodgems, Waltzers and Candy Floss - great memories.”

Lindsay Robertson said: “Grants had a wonderful display of toys in their huge front window. One year there was a silver, glittery model of a giant elephant. It’s an Italian restaurant now and when I pass by, I still remember the sheer joy and excitement of it all.”

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Woolworths was also a frequented shop back in the day. Nan Beattie Johnston loved listening to the Salvation Army Band playing Christmas carols and ‘going into Woolworths for hot peanuts or up to the cafeteria for donuts and tea - lots of lovely memories to look back on.’ Linda Britton remembers ‘looking at all the sweets and trinkets, then going up to the restaurant on the top floor to get hot donuts.’

Chelle Paterson recalled her first Christmas in Edinburgh. She said: “Moving to Edinburgh when I was eight and my brother 11. We had our very first snowy Christmas and I thought Edinburgh was magical - never experienced it in Fife before that!”

A recurring visitor to Auld Reekie, Clotilde Lucia, said: “ When I was very little it always smelled ‘funny’ - I now know it was the smell of hops! And I used to love going to Valvona and Crolla’s deli in the 1960s and when I revisited as an adult it smelled exactly as I remembered it.”

For Sharon Rintoul, the bright lights, stunning views and people watching is all it takes to enjoy Edinburgh at Christmas time. She said: “I've always loved standing outside in the Old Town, wrapped up warm with a burger and cup of tea watching the world go by. It's just the simple things in life.” Yvonne Blair shared this view, adding: "Just seeing Princes Street all lit up and the big tree on the Mound."

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But Christmas time isn't all about traditional family values, visiting markets and gift shopping - there's also room for some me-time as well. David Roberts said: "Has to be the lads Christmas night out always messy and fun unfortunately that was many moons ago but still have happy memories from these days."

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