Saint Andrew's Day

Today in Scotland, and indeed in many parts of the world, people are celebrating Saint Andrew's Day.

The picture of the Scottish flag above is traditionally known as the Saint Andrew flag. It is thought to be the oldest flag in the world. It dates back to the 12th Century.

The origins of Saint Andrew's Cross and Flag

Whilst in Southern Greece Andrew stayed some time in the city of Patras where he healed many sick people. At the time the country was ruled by the Romans and he healed Maximillia, the wife of a powerful Roman General. She converted to Christianity.

Her husband was so angry at his wife becoming a Christian that he wanted to stop this new religion and ordered his soldiers to put Andrew to the death.

The origins of the St Andrews flag and cross comes from when Saint Andrew was crucified by the Romans at Patras (Patrae) in Achaea. His crucifixion was not like that of Jesus, but done diagonally on a cross of the form called Crux decussata which translates to X-shaped cross. This explains the white cross. The dark blue background is a symbol of the sky. This form of cross soon became known as the St Andrew's Cross. Andrew requested to die this way because he did not think he was worthy enough to die the same way, on an upright cross, like his Lord Jesus had.

The relics of Saint Andrew

Andrew was buried in a tomb at Patras and 300 years later Emperor Constantine wanted to move his bones to Turkey, to bury them at a new church.

The relics of Saint Andrew were taken to the city of Patras from where they were taken to Constantinople by order of the Roman emperor Constantius II in 357.

They were then taken to St Andrews in Scotland in the 10th Century from when he became the Patron Saint of Scotland. This is thought to have been in the year 1160 and were taken by St Regulus (Rule), a Greek monk, who was shipwrecked off the Fife coast and the area he was washed ashore became know as St Andrews. He had a dream in which an angel told him to rescue some of the bones of St Andrew and take them to a place of safety far away. It is thought that in life Saint Andrew had never been to Scotland or any country within the UK.

Regulus had a chapel built in St Andrews to store the relics of Saint Andrew. Pilgrims would come from far away to see the bones of St Andrew because they thought they held special powers. A Cathedral was later built in the year 1160 in honour of St Andrew and the ruins can still be seen in St Andrews.

There is a legend that in the late 8th century there was a battle of Athelstaneford with the English and King Ungus of Scotland (the earlier name for Angus). Prior to the battle King Ungus prayed to Andrew and said that if he won the battle by his grace, then he would become the Patron Saint of Scotland. On the day of the battle the King of Scotland looked to the sky, prayed to St Andrew and saw a cloud shaped like a saltire. He declared that Andrew was watching over them and that this was a sign that they would win the battle.

Customs and traditions of Saint Andrew's Day

People in Scotland and Scottish people who find themselves living abroad celebrate St Andrew's Day by playing or listening to bagpipe music and dancing to Scottish music.

A young woman or girl should pray on the night of the 29 November to be married. They would look for a sign about their future husband on the 30 November. One such sign would be to throw a shoe at the door of her parents house. If the toe pointed to the house she would be staying there another year. If it pointed away from the home she would be leaving to be wed within the year and live with her spouse.

Another old custom from Saint Andrew Day is that a young woman should try and peel an apple in one go. This peel would then form the initial name of her intended.

There is no specific food that should be eaten on St Andrews Day, though some enjoy cock-a-leekie soup as a starter and a main course of haggis whilst others eat fish because Saint Andrew was a fisherman.

Read more on why Andrew is Patron Saint of Scotland.

Read this previous post on Saint Andrew's Day.

Listen to this song which is sang  at New Year and after any Scottish gathering.

Use the Labels to read more posts related to Scotland.

Also see the Scotland related posts from Blog 1 and from Blog 3.


Andrés said…
Another Andrew also read it.
Graham said…
Did you discover if you had anything in common? :-)
Anonymous said…
Hello Graham: Today first december is the firt day I vent to your blogs. I have read the St. Andrews history and I have spent a great time. thank for this way to read et study englih. By the way my name is Ignacia Bueno fron Justice' s Ministry lessons. Pleasy remember bring me the book on Tuesday.
Tank Ignacia
Graham said…
Hi Ignacia,

I'm glad you like the blog.

Today first December is the first day I have been in your blog. I have read the history of St. Andrews Day and I have had a great time. Thanks for this way to read and study English. Please remember to bring me the book on Tuesday.

See you in the morning.

Ah, I haven't forgotten your book. :-)