November 30th marks Saint Andrew’s day, the national patron day of Scotland. Whilst not as big as Ireland’s St. Patrick Day, St Andrew’s day is still celebrated and marked around Scotland every year with patriotism. But where did the celebration of St Andrew’s day come from, and what historical significance does it have for the country?
We’re here to cover who Saint Andrew was, why he was appointed Scotland’s Saint, and how we celebrate Scotland today.
Who was Saint Andrew?
Saint Andrew was also known as Andrew the Apostle. He is believed to have been one of Jesus’ twelve disciples and he is thought to have been born between 5 and 10 AD in Israel. It is also believed that he was the brother of Saint Peter, who was also a disciple.
Andrew and his brother Peter were common fishermen. The bible states that when Jesus saw them at work, he called on them to become ‘fishers of men’ instead. Andrew is a significant disciple throughout the bible, playing an important part in many different versions of the gospel.
Andrew was crucified in AD 60, where he famously requested he was crucified in an X shape cross rather than the vertical style Jesus had been killed on, as he deemed himself unworthy to die the same way. This X shape cross later became known as ‘Saint Andrews Cross’.
Why is Andrew the Saint of Scotland?
So if this saint was significant during biblical times, why is he appointed thousands of miles away to Scotland? This is where history differs a bit, depending on what source you go to.
One of the most popular theories directs to a legend of King Angus’ battle in East Lothian, AD 834. The story tells of an Army of Scots outnumbered by the English, with no reasonable way to expect a victory. King Angus prayed for a defeat against the enemy and saw a white saltire cross form in the blue sky in the formation of clouds. King Angus saw this as a divine indication they would win the battle, and apparently, they did. The white saltire with the blue background became the flag of Scotland, and many believe the origins go back much further.
Some people believe that, as part of Andrew's travels to spread the word of new Christianity, he came to Scotland and built a church in the town now known as St Andrews. People travelled far and wide to pray in the church, which led to St Andrew being appointed as the Patron Saint.
Others believe that the relics of Andrew were brought over to St Andrew's in the 4th century following his death. Manuscripts state physical remains of Andrew were brought to the then King, however, there is no physical evidence to support this.
How Do We Celebrate St Andrew Today?
Many believe St Andrew’s traits of helping people in need are reflected in Scotland’s welcoming attitude, and the St Andrews Society is the oldest Scottish society that aims to provide help to widows and orphans.
Today, ceilidhs (parties with traditional Scottish dancing) are held all over Scotland on the 30th of November and feasts are held to mark the day and the start of winter. The day is usually marked with a celebration of Scottish culture, including dancing, music, food and drink, with parties going on long into the cold winter night.
Click here to visit Visit Scotland to view available events and learn more about St Andrew's Day!