St Andrews Day

St Andrews Day, the celebration of our Patron Saint falls on 30th November. Since 2007 it has also been an official bank holiday in Scotland too.

St Andrew was a fisherman from Galilee (an area in modern day Israel). According to the Christian faith, he alongside his brother Peter became one of the disciples of Jesus Christ. St Andrew was known for his compassion and kindness. In Scotland there have been feast in his honour since 1000AD.

After Scotland signed the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, he officially became our patron saint. Did you know he is also the Patron Saint of many of places including, Romania, Greece, Russia, Saint Andrew Barbados, and Ukraine?

The story of why he became Scotland’s Patron Saint is one shrouded in mystery and myth. One popular belief is that as King Angus prepared for battle St Andrew came to him in a dream. He promised him a victory and on the day of the battle a cross appeared in the sky which is the symbol of St Andrew. This cross now appears on Scotland’s National flag, the Saltire which must be flown from all Scottish Government buildings on November 30th.

On the other hand. some think his declaration as Patron Saint was a much earlier occurrence. They believe Scottish people descended from the Scythians of the black sea. St Andrew may have then converted them to Christianity. Therefore, linking him to Scotland. The Declaration of Arbroath does contain a section which names Scythia as the former homeland of the Scots.

Scotland Flag featuring the cross of St Andrew

Celebrating St Andrews Day

In present day, people celebrate St Andrews day across the world. Scottish people celebrate in much the same way as we do any of our Gaelic winter festivals with food and dancing (Hogmanay & Burns Night are the other two). Scottish Ceilidh dancing is a traditional form of social dancing which has been enjoyed for hundreds of years. Communities are brought together by the ceilidhs held across the country on St Andrews Day. Traditional Scottish food is the perfect accompaniment to all that exercise. From Haggis, Neeps & Tatties (Haggis, Turnip and Potatoes), to a steaming bowl of Cullen Skink (smoked fish soup), you will find lots of Scottish favourites on the celebration tables.

In St Andrews, the saint’s namesake town they have a whole weeklong celebration. This includes Savour St Andrews which focuses on the wonderful local produce and talented chefs from the area. The coastal town of Oban also uses this celebration to kick off their winter festival with special entertainment, meals and events taking place across the town.

In other parts of the world their celebrations link back to older traditions. Many countries in Europe including Germany, Ukraine and Russia believe the eve of the day and St Andrews day itself is linked to ancient myths surrounding marriage. Young women complete rituals to find out about their future spouse. Traditionally in Poland only young unmarried women were permitted to celebrate. However, now everyone can enjoy the festivities.

Wherever you will be this St Andrews day, you can take part and celebrate the start of the winter months. If you find yourselves in Scotland, then why not join us on a tour and celebrate with us? As it is a bank holiday, St Andrews is a popular day to get out and explore some of our beautiful scenery.

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