RGU alumna Kirstin Bell shares the history of St Andrew’s Day and provides ideas on how you can celebrate this year in the comfort of your home!
Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland. He is also the patron saint of Romania, Greece, Russia, Ukraine and Poland. Patron saints are chosen to be special protectors or guardians, and in Scotland, we celebrate St Andrew’s Day on November 30th.
What is St Andrew’s Day?
We don’t actually know very much about St Andrew, but it’s believed he was one of the 12 Disciples of Jesus Christ.
In the 9th century, King Angus vowed to make St Andrew the patron saint of Scotland after appearing to him in a in dream, and promising him a victory over the English in an upcoming battle. It is said that on the day of the battle, an X symbol appeared in the sky, this is why the Saltire (Scottish flag) has the X shaped cross on it to this day. The chosen day for celebration, November 30th, is the day that St Andrew died in 60AD.
Why is it celebrated?
It wasn’t until the 18th century that St Andrew’s Day began to be celebrated as an annual event. The tradition was actually started by our friends in the USA, when a group of Scottish immigrants wanted to reconnect with their Scottish roots. However, with us Scots never being one to pass up an opportunity for a good party, we weren’t far behind the Americans in partaking in an annual celebration of the patron saint.
How is it celebrated?
St Andrew’s Day is actually a bank holiday in Scotland, however it’s not the law for everyone to have the day off, most people still tend to go to work. Scottish culture, traditions and cuisine can be celebrated, and in years gone by (pre Covid!) a ceilidh would be a great way to celebrate the occasion!
How can I celebrate St Andrew’s Day this year?
People are being encouraged to celebrate St Andrew’s Day this year by getting their kilt on as part of the #GetYerKiltOn tourism initiative, organised by the Fife Tourism Partnership. You can do this by wearing your kilt or something tartan in the run-up to, and on the day itself and share your pictures on social media using the #GetYerKiltOn hashtag. The aim is to showcase the rich culture, heritage and hospitality of Scotland.
Food is another way in which you can celebrate the day. Why not swap your usual evening meal for one with a Scottish twist? This could be the perfect time to try the traditional Cullen Skink, a creamy soup made from smoked haddock, potatoes and onions, followed by haggis, neeps and tatties.
There are a number of virtual events taking place this year featuring uniquely Scottish line-ups of music, dance, culture and more.
FRONTLINE FESTIVAL – 30 NOVEMBER, NOON – 10PM
This new virtual gig will be streamed across social media on St Andrew’s Day and will see over 30 Scottish artists come together to play vibrant tunes and support a good cause.
BLAS FESTIVAL – 20-30 NOVEMBER
Join in a fantastic programme of concerts, cèilidhs, workshops, lectures and more, all designed to celebrate the music, songs, language and culture of the Scottish Highlands.
For more information, visit the VisitScotland website.
However you choose to mark the day, we wish you all a Happy St Andrew’s Day!
Written by Kirstin Bell