How To Celebrate St. Andrew’s Day
St. Andrew’s Day has been a much-loved festival in Scotland for over a thousand years, taking place on the 30th November each year. However, St. Andrew’s exact origins, including how he became Scotland’s patron saint, are unclear. So, why do Scots celebrate St. Andrew’s Day and what does the day involve?
Who was St. Andrew?
Although St. Andrew is Scotland’s patron saint, he wasn’t actually born in Scotland. It is widely believed that Andrew started life as a fisherman before he became one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, along with his brother Peter. Andrew then travelled far and wide to spread Jesus’ teachings, which may be how he came to be known in Scotland, although he may never have set foot in the country himself.
It is believed that when Scottish independence was declared in 1320, Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland. His story went on to shape many different aspects of Scottish culture, including the blue and white flag of Scotland, also known as the St Andrew’s Cross. St Andrew was known for his generosity, which is reflected today in the warm and generous nature of Scotland and its people.
Despite the fact that little is known of the man himself, St. Andrew has been pivotal in shaping not only Scottish society but the societies of numerous other countries around the world. In fact, some of his relics are still in Scotland today, which people travel from far and wide to pay homage to.
How is it celebrated?
Today, St. Andrew’s Day is one of the most important dates in the Scottish calendar after Burns Night and Hogmanay, signalling the beginning of Scotland’s Winter Festival each year. The day is an official bank holiday and provides a fantastic opportunity to celebrate Scottish culture and traditional cuisine and dance.
Typical St. Andrew’s Day activities include plenty of food, drink, music and dancing, with festivities often lasting long into the night. Some traditional Scottish dishes to sample on St. Andrew’s Day include Cullen skink (fish soup), haggis, neeps and tatties (swede and potatoes) and Cranachan (a Scottish dessert made from cream, raspberries, oats and whisky).
When it comes to St. Andrew’s Day, Scotland is the main country to enjoy the celebrations. However, many people may not know that St. Andrew is also the patron saint of several other countries, including Romania, Russia, Greece and Ukraine, among others. In fact, St. Andrew’s Day was originally started in the United State by a group of Scottish immigrants who wanted to remember their Scottish roots.
Where is it St. Andrews celebrated?
St. Andrew’s Day is celebrated in towns and cities across Scotland, each of which might mark the occasion slightly differently. For example, in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, there are storytelling events, street markets and traditional music to help start Scotland’s winter celebrations, while in the Fife town of St. Andrew, festivities often last an entire week, with pipe bands, an open-air ceilidh (traditional Scottish gathering) and street parties.
If you’re in Scotland to celebrate St. Andrew’s Day, why not take a trip to Braemar and the Cairngorms at the same time? As well as being able to soak up the peace and tranquillity of the stunning landscapes, there are plenty of exciting activities that the whole family can take part in. Take a gentle nature walk through the majestic forests, learn about food foraging, take part in a few of the cultural events available, or have a picnic on the stunning grouse moors.