Christmas holidays in Yetholm? Well, until about 1918 there weren't any, at least as far as the school was concerned. The image above shows the school log-book for December 25th 1872 - 'Lessons given with assistance of Monitor'. Sometimes the Yetholm school log-book laments that children from Shotton - only a few yards over the border in Episcopalian England - failed to turn up on the 25th, but generally life went on as normal on Christmas Day.
Old Year's Eve was, of course, widely celebrated in Yetholm - and the school was closed. But there was also another holiday - before Christmas - namely the Shortest Day. The extract shown below is also from 1872: 'December 23rd. Owing to the stupid custom of barring out the master there was no schooling today. This is always done on the shortest day & the children are encouraged by their parents to do all in their power to keep the school-door shut to claim a Holiday.' Quite how the children managed to bar the school is unclear - in Kelso there is a record of the school key-hole being blocked up by gravel and 'fixing the window'. How old this tradition was - and how much longer it lasted is also unclear - does anyone know? The teacher in Yetholm seems resigned to the fact that there would be an unofficial holiday, a situation which, in fact, was not uncommon. Fox-hunts, farm roups (sales), pigeon shooting and military parades generally seem to have resulted in pupils abandoning the school en masse. In the case of the unofficial 'Shortest Day' holiday life returned to normal on the following day and by the 25th both teacher and pupils were hard at work, oblivious to the festivities over the border in England.