St Andrew's Day is celebrated each year on 30 November and is Scotland's national day.
St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland (as well as several other countries, including Greece, Romania, Russia and Ukraine) and was one of the Twelve Apostles (disciples of Jesus) and brother of Simon Peter (Saint Peter). He was a fisherman by trade, who lived in Galilee (in present-day Israel).
The Scottish flag, the Saltire, is based on the X-shaped cross on which St Andrew was crucified on 30 November, 60 AD. An ancient story tells that a St Andrew's Cross was seen in the sky on the morning of a crucial battle in 832 AD between the Picts and the Angles. The Picts were inspired by the symbol and were victorious in the battle.
In Scotland, and many countries with Scottish connections, St Andrew's Day is marked with a celebration of Scottish culture with traditional Scottish food, music and dance. Schools across Scotland hold special St Andrew's Day events and activities including art shows, Scottish country dancing, lunchtime ceilidhs, dance festivals, storytelling, reciting and writing poems, writing tall tales, cooking traditional Scottish meals, and bagpipe-playing!
In Scotland now the day is also seen as the start of a season of Scottish winter festivals encompassing St Andrew's Day, Hogmanay and Burns Night.
Here are some other facts, customs and traditions you may not already know...
- St Andrew’s Day is connected with Advent, which begins on the nearest Sunday to 30 November.
- St Andrew’s Day marks the opening of Christmas Markets in Scotland.
Many mid-winter customs and folk superstitions are also connected to St Andrew’s Day... perhaps the most notable being around midnight on 29 November, the night before St Andrew’s Day, when it was traditional for girls to pray to St Andrew for a husband. They would make a wish and look for a sign that they had been heard.
A girl wishing to marry could:
- Throw a shoe at a door. If the toe of the shoe pointed in the direction of the exit, then she would marry and leave her parents’ house within a year;
- Peel a whole apple without breaking the peel and then throw the peel over her shoulder. If the peel formed a letter of the alphabet, then this suggested the name of her future groom!
So, whether you are looking for a husband(!) or simply want to join in an array of cultural and seasonal celebrations linked to this special day, why not visit Scotland, and all it has to offer... and make your trip that much more memorable with a castle stay?