Foula - whose name means "bird island" in Old Norse - in Shetland, which has a population of 30, still uses the old Julian calendar...
Remote British island celebrates Christmas today - for very traditional reason
Foula in Shetland, which has a population of just over 30, has a strong history - and sticks to its traditions
By Anthony Bond & Jo-Anne Rowney Audience Growth Editor
6 January 2019
It is Britain's remotest permanently inhabited island with a population of just over 30 people.
The island called Foula in Shetland will finally celebrate Christmas today.
They will also see in the New Year nearly two weeks after the rest of the world.
The community has a strong Norse tradition of folklore, music and special festivities.
Scotland took on the Gregorian calendar in 1752, with the rest of the UK, but Foula stuck with the Julian one.
This means Foula is 12 days behind putting Yule aka Christmas on January 6 instead of December 25 and Newerday aka New Year on January 13 instead of January 1.
The island is the remotest inhabited island in Great Britain (Image: Getty Images Europe)
What are the traditions?
Islanders will gather in one house to celebrate Christmas today where they will exchange gifts and greetings.
The islanders include ten children - who have been patiently waiting for Santa Claus.
"Islanders have celebrated these days before the Greorgian Calendar," said crofter Stuart Taylor, 44.
"It is not just part of our tradition - but the world's. It is everybody else who changed - not us.
"We are not unique - other parts of the world, such as areas of Russia, still celebrate the old calendar.
"On the 6th, families open their presents in their own homes and then in the evening we all tend to end up in one house.
It is the same at New Year on the 13th - we will visit each others' houses and end up at one.
Some of the residents of the island prepare to celebrate Christmas and New Year
"This tradition is not going to end here. The children have been brought up to expect their main presents on the 6th."
Where is the island and what do we know about it?
The island is three and a half miles long by two and a half miles wide.
At one point, Foula - which lies 15 miles west of mainland Shetland and 100 miles north of mainland Scotland, on the same latitude as southern Greenland - sustained 287 people.
Foula got running water in 1982 and full electricity by 1984, supplied by a diesel generator. It currently has a renewable energy system - mainly photo voltaic - backed up by diesel.
The small community has kept its strong Norse traditions and its inhabitants were the last to speak Norn, a form of old Norse which died out around 1800.
The island of Foula will only celebrate Christmas on Sunday (Image: Getty Images Europe)
"We have virtually 24 hour electricity now. It rarely goes off and when it does only for a short time," added Mr Taylor.
"We have everything here - all the mod cons, the internet and TV. We are very self-contained.
"We have had some scary weather lately with the storms. Some car windows were smashed by stones picked up by the winds. But it is winter and we had a really good summer."
The island has a population of just over 30 people (Image: Getty Images Europe)
The isle is so remote and prone to the weather that attempts by previous Church of Scotland minister, the Rev. Tom Macintyre, to reach it for one Christmas service had to be abandoned after three attempts.
On Foula, Mr Macintyre carried out one wedding - when he married Amy and Wullie Ratter in their croft garden - one funeral, where mourners had to walk a mile from the church to the cemetery and, sadly, no baptisms in his five years in charge.
Mr Macintyre said he usually left Foula with gifts of lamb and home baking.
By special arrangement of the CoS General Assembly, Foula is required to have six visits per year.
Foula - meaning "bird island" in old Norse - was the location for the film The Edge of the World. The RMS Oceanic was wrecked on the nearby Shaalds of Foula.
The Gregorian calendar is internationally the most widely used civil calendar. It is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582.
The rest of Great Britain adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752, but Foula stuck with the old Julian calendar.
The change was made because the Gregorian had a 0.002 per cent correction on the length of the year. The change switched Foula's calendar 13 days behind the rest of Britain, though this moved up to 12 when the island didn't have a leap year in 1900.
For that reason December 25 becomes January 6 in the Foula calender.