November 30th is St Andrew’s Day in Scotland. St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland.
In Scotland and also in many countries around the world with Scottish connections, Saint Andrew’s Day is marked with a celebration of Scottish culture including traditional Scottish food, traditional music and dance. In Scotland the day is also seen as the start of a season of Scottish winter festivals encompassing Saint Andrew’s Day, Hogmanay and Burns Night. There are week-long celebrations in the town of St Andrews and in other Scottish towns and cities.
Unlike Burns Night where the haggis takes centre stage in the traditional celebration dinner, there is no fixed menu for St Andrews Night. However as the saint was a fisherman, seafood would seem to be an appropriate dish to mark his big day. Smoked or poached salmon might be the starter or perhaps a rich fish based soup like Cullen Skink would be a good choice during this wintery time. A hearty beef stew with root vegetables or roast venison or lamb would be an excellent main course – with rich claret or whisky as accompaniments. Today there is a huge range of wonderful Scottish cheeses to choose for a cheese board. And we might lighten the meal with some fresh fruit desserts made with raspberries or apples.
The celebration of Saint Andrew as a national festival is thought to originate in the 11th century during the reign of Malcolm III (1034-1093). However it wasn’t until 2006 that the Scottish Parliament officially made St. Andrew’s Day a Scottish Bank Holiday. The Saltire, a white cross on a blue background is the official flag of Scotland and on St Andrews Day the flag can be seen flying on all Government buildings with a flagpole.
In Barbados, Saint Andrew’s Day is celebrated as the country’s national day of Independence. As the patron saint, Saint Andrew is celebrated in a number of Barbadian symbols including the Barbadian Coat of Arms. Several other countries including Malta, Spain, Georgia, Romania and Cypress also have connections with St Andrew.
According to legend, in 832 AD, an army of Picts and Scots went into battle in East Lothian against the Angles – the dominant tribe which supposedly gave England its name. The legend states that The Scots and Picts were heavily outnumbered and so their leader, Oengus, when giving prayer on the eve of battle, vowed that if granted victory he would appoint Saint Andrew as the Patron Saint of Scotland. On the morning of battle white clouds resembling an X shape appeared in the blue sky. Oengus and his army, encouraged by this sign, took to the field of battle and despite being the smaller force were victorious.