St. Andrew’s Day: What is it, when it is and who was St Andrew?

Everything you need to know about St. Andrew's Day
Flying the flag for Scotland on St. Andrew’s Day (Picture: AP Photo)

As the year comes closer to an end, there is just enough time to squeeze in a patron saint’s day and today is the turn of Scotland to celebrate St. Andrew’s Day.

Winter is a time for Scottish festivities with Burns Night and Hogmanay on the horizon and St. Andrew has arrived to start proceedings. As with all these patron saint’s days, you may ask how did they come about and who is the saint that is being celebrated?

All will now be revealed…

So, who is this St. Andrew?

He was a humble fisherman from Galilee plying his trade on the River Jordan until the day that Jesus called to him from the banks. Andrew became one of his twelve disciples and was present at some of the most defining moments in the story of Jesus.

Andrew was the one who first approached the boy that had loaves and fishes that Jesus then shared and fed the 5,000. After the death of Jesus, Andrew continued to spread the word of Christianity throughout Poland, Russia and Greece, where he eventually met his death from crucifixion.

How did people discover this story?

This was down to a monk called Regulus who, according to legend, brought the relics of St. Andrew to Scotland.

Regulus had been given some land to build a church. This grew from a small settlement in to the town of St. Andrews and before long it became a place of religious pilgrimage.

When did it become a national festival then?

This is thought to be the work of Malcolm III who reigned between 1034 and 1093. It started with a more practical use as the ritual slaughter of animals, that was associated with Samhain, was moved to this date to ensure there were enough animals kept alive for winter.

Not a national holiday in those days it seems…

Not for a long time in fact. It was only in 2006 that the Scottish Parliament passed an act to declare that St. Andrew’s Day would become a bank holiday. This means that Scotland joined Romania in having a day off.

St. Andrew is celebrated in other countries then?

Oh yes. St. Andrew managed to get around during his time and now he is the patron saint of Greece, Romania, Russia and Ukraine. Even Barbados has a place named after him and takes a day to celebrate his existence.

Didn’t the Greeks put Andrew to his death though?

They did, it’s true, and in doing so it inspired the Scottish flag, the Saltire. This is because Andrew insisted on being crucified on an X shaped cross as he believed himself not worthy to be crucified on a cross like Jesus.

This X shaped cross went on to inspire the Saltire, especially after an ancient story claimed that the cross was seen in the sky on the morning of a big battle between the Picts and the Angles, back in 832AD. With the Picts being victorious, they claimed to be inspired by the cross symbol and it was adopted in the flag from then on.

Nowadays it’s a festival of celebration?

Yes, all over the country there will be traditional Scottish food, music and dance, storytelling, ceilidhs and of course, the sweet sound of bagpipes wafting through the air.

Everything you need to know about St. Andrew's Day

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30 November 2014 | 8:00 am – Source:


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