Nicola Sturgeon asks Scots to spread 'Christmas cheer' in festive message
Scotland's First Minister has thanked festive volunteers and public-sector workers in her Christmas message.
Nicola Sturgeon and the country's other political leaders offered special thanks to emergency service workers, many of whom will be on duty over the festive period.
Ms Sturgeon's address praised those who give up their time for others and urged people to "spread some Christmas cheer" by volunteering or "by being a good neighbour or friend".
Filmed in her official residence of Bute House, with a Christmas tree and saltire in the background, the First Minister called for Scots to be "especially thankful" for those still working in the public-sector over the festive period.
She said: "This Christmas many of us will be looking forward to taking a break and to spending time with friends, family and loved ones.
"Many people will also take the time to help others, for example by volunteering for charity.
"In doing so, they will be helping to provide things like food, support and companionship to those who need it most.
"That kind-heartedness and solidarity is vital throughout the year - but it is especially important at this time of year."
She added: "Of course, for many Christmas isn't a holiday at all - for example, for the people in our NHS and indeed all of our public services.
"Your efforts are appreciated all through the year. But they are particularly appreciated at Christmas time."
'A hard year'
Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw issued his Christmas message at the end of what he said had been a "hard year" for the country.
"It's hard to think of a Christmas season when all of us across the UK have needed the break more acutely," the Tory MSP said.
"The truth is that 2019 has been a hard year for our country. With our political system in gridlock, and public discourse too often descending into rancour and abuse, it's felt like we've been living permanently under a dark cloud."
With people having "too often focused on the differences between us", Mr Carlaw said he hoped that "the magic of Christmas casts its spell for people this year, helping families and friends remember what it is that unites them, not divides them".
He added: "It's also a time to thank the emergency services and the NHS, who will be keeping going over the Christmas holiday should we need them. I hope they get a break with their families in due course.
"It's also right to mention those people who will this year be supporting the homeless during the Christmas season, our religious leaders for whom this is such a busy time and all those who are looking out for a neighbour or a friend who needs support at this time of year."
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie recalled the "turbulent year in politics ", saying that in the UK "we have seen the divisive Boris Johnson rise to power while across the world governments have fallen and protest movements erupted".
He paid tribute to those working in the public services, hailing "our hardworking NHS staff who will be there for us on Christmas Day should we need it" and thanking "the police and fire service workers who never take a day off".
Mr Rennie also praised "the postal workers who make sure that Christmas arrives on time and everyone else who keeps Scotland ticking".
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: "I'd like to send Christmas greetings to all those people who are working over the festival period: hospitality workers, public service workers, emergency services workers.
"I also want to ask people to think about their neighbours. Loneliness can be a terrible thing at Christmas. So, we should look out for each other."
Meanwhile, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said 2019 had left many people "feeling anxious about the state of our planet, and the state of our politics".
He stressed: "We must not lose sight of those who are working with such energy, creativity and urgency to make a difference."
He hailed the school strikes for the climate as being "one great example" of this, saying that "people with little political voice have built a movement which is making the world take notice".
Mr Harvie also thanked those who "spend part of their Christmas season working to help each other, whether the professionals in our NHS and emergency services, or the volunteers giving time to support people who are marginalised, excluded and voiceless."