Nicola Sturgeon has hailed emergency service workers amid “tough times” in her Christmas message.
Scotland’s First Minister offered a “heartfelt thanks” to workers who will be on duty providing vital services in the health, policing and fire services over the festive period.
Delivering her message from her official residence at Bute House in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon wished Scots the “best possible” Christmas following turbulent periods caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns.
She acknowledged families who will be facing difficult times because of the cost-of-living crisis, and urged people to help in whatever way they can.
She said she wants to thank those “for whom Christmas isn’t a holiday at all”.
She added: “The men and women serving in our armed services, those caring for us in the National Health Service, and looking after us in police and fire – indeed, all those working across our essential public and voluntary services.
“I am deeply grateful for all the work you do every year and throughout the year. But I am especially grateful for it now – knowing, as I do, just how tough times are.
“So my heartfelt thanks to everyone working on our behalf this Christmas, and to all those taking some time to help others.
“Especially after the past two Christmases, I know most of us will be really looking forward to this festive period.
“The chance to gather with family, friends and loved ones really is something to cherish.
“Of course, the cost-of-living crisis is making this a very hard winter for many.
“So this Christmas, it’s important for all of us to also think about how we can help others.
“Maybe donating to a charity if we can, or helping out in our communities, or visiting a neighbour or friend who might be on their own and want some company.
“Most of all – wherever you are and whatever you are doing – I hope you have the best possible time over this festive period.
“I wish all of you a happy, healthy and peaceful Christmas.”
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross also expressed how grateful he was to share the festive period with his whole family following two years of the Covid-19 pandemic and Christmas restrictions.
However, he paid tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth following her death in September.
He said: “For me, after two years of restrictions, I know I am more grateful than ever to be able to celebrate this festive season with my whole family.”
He added: “However, while this Christmas may be a return to our usual festive traditions, for many of us there will be one, key difference.
“It was with tremendous sadness than we said goodbye to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in September.”
He offered well wishes to the King and the late monarch’s family – and to everyone in Scotland who had lost loved ones this year.
Scottish Labour leader also Anas Sarwar paid tribute to volunteers helping the vulnerable at Christmas and to emergency service staff.
But he shed a light on the Scots who will spend Christmas alone – or not celebrating it at all – this year.
“Sadly, far too many children will wake up with little or nothing this Christmas Day. Many people will spend Christmas alone with no one to celebrate with,” he said.
“Others will be in temporary accommodation or sleeping rough.”
Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said he wanted to “thank all of the key workers in our hospitals, care homes, GP surgeries, transport, schools and supermarkets, many of whom will be working today.
“I want you to know that my party appreciate your work and will fight your corner.”