Saint Andrew's Day is celebrated on November 30th in Scotland and around the world. Saint Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland. Saint Andrew is a mysterious person and not much is known about him. Most scholars think that he and his older brother Simon Peter were fishermen in Galilee. They both started following Jesus and both became saints. Saint Andrew traveled across Asia and Greece spreading the world of Christianity. He was crucified on a diagonal cross in Patras, Greece. The diagonal cross is a religious symbol in Scotland and is even depicted on the Scottish flag. Saint Andrew's bones were entombed after his death.
Three hundred years after his death, Saint Andrew's remains were moved to Constantinople by Emperor Constantine. There is a Scottish legend that revolves around this removal of Saint Andrew's remains. Apparently, Saint Rule, a Greek Monk who was an assistant of Saint Columbia, was warned in a dream that Saint Andrew's remains were going to be moved. An angel told Saint Rule to take as many of Saint Andrew's remains as he could and hide them at the ends of the earth. Saint Rule did what the angel told him and was able to carry a tooth, some fingers, an arm bone and a kneecap. He boarded a ship and went to Scotland with the remains. At the time, Scotland was known to be the end of the Earth. Saint Rule's ship became shipwrecked along the coast along with Saint Andrew's remains. Saint Rule survived the wreck and came to shore on the East Coast of Scotland at a Pictish settlement. The settlement became known as St. Andrews. It is said that Saint Rule placed Saint Andrew's remains in a chapel constructed especially for the purpose of keeping the remains safe. In the year 1160, the chapel was destroyed and replaced by the Cathedral of Saint Andrews.
The city of Saint Andrews is known as the religious capital of Scotland. Tourists around the world come to the city to view the remains of Saint Andrews. The Cathedral at Saint Andrews has marked the spot of where the relics were kept with a plaque. The place is in ruins but visitors may still visit the plaque. In 1210, the rest of Saint Andrew's remains were taken from Constantinople and can now be found in Southern Italy in the town of Amalfi. The Archbishop of Amalfi sent Saint Andrew's shoulder blade to a Roman Catholic establishment in Scotland in 1879. The leader of the Roman Catholic Church of Scotland was in Rome in 1969 to become the first Scottish Cardinal since the reformation of the church. As a gift, Pope Paul VI gave him some relics of St. Andrews and added the words "Saint Peter gives you his brother". These relics can be seen at a reliquary in Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland.
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History of St. Andrews Day
Saint Andrews Day was never an official holiday in Scotland until 2006 when the Scottish Parliament passed the St. Andrew's Day Bank Holiday Act 2007. This act made Saint Andrew's Day an official bank holiday. Saint Andrew's Day is November 30th each year but the bank holiday would fall on the following Monday if the holiday falls on a weekend. Even though it is considered as an official bank holiday, banks do not actually close and some employers make their employees work during the holiday.
Scotland had been trying to get Saint Andrew's Day as an official holiday since 2003 when Independent Parliament Member for Falkirk West, Dennis Canavan first proposed the idea. The bill was immediately rejected by the Parliament as the Executive power did not like the idea. A deal was eventually reached that stated the holiday would not be an extra entitlement. Jack McConnell, who was the First Minister, believed that the holiday should be marked by employers and employees but that Saint Andrews Day should take the place of an existing holiday. Saint Andrew's Day replaced flag day.
On this holiday, the Saltire (flag of Scotland) must fly on all buildings with a flagpole and The Union Flag must also be flown if there are two flagpoles. Of course, the U.K. has different requirements that state the Union Flag must be flown on Saint Andrew's Day and the Saltire must be flown if there are two flagpoles.
Before 2002, Scotland only flew the United Kingdom's Union Flag on Saint Andrew's Day. The Scottish Parliament complained that they were the only country that did not fly its own flag on its own flag day. The Parliament changed the requirements that the Saltire was the only flag required to be flown on Saint Andrew's Day.
The Edinburgh Castle does not follow these new regulations and always has the Union Flag flying, including on November 30. Many Scottish politicians are angry by this but it is the British Army that operates the Edinburgh Castle and all British Army installations fly the Union Flag. The British Army actually leases the castle from Scotland. People have criticized the British Army over their refusal for flying the Saltire yet using it in their ad campaigns. They have been called hypocrites by many Scottish politicians.
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Celebrating St. Andrews Day
Saint Andrews Day is celebrated more by Scots who live abroad then by those who actually live in Scotland. In Boston, MA, Saint Andrew's Society was established in 1657. It used to be that people would have a large feast on Saint Andrew's Day in Scotland. The tradition was that farm workers would go "St. Andra'ing" and catch rabbits to eat later in the day while they drank. Saint Andrew's Day is not celebrated as much anymore even though it was recently established as a bank holiday. It is gaining in popularity though and there are many websites devoted to this holiday.
What should you eat on St. Andrews Day? Some people eat fish because Saint Andrew was a fisherman. Others will eat traditional Scottish food. Traditional used to mean a sheep's head but a lot of people don't want to prepare a sheep's head. It doesn't matter how you celebrate as long as you remember the life of Saint Andrew.