Happy St Andrew’s Day!
Happy Saint Andrew’s Day! Today is the time for Scots everywhere to celebrate their patron saint. If you really want to show off you could say ‘Latha Naomh Anndra sona dhuibh!’ – that’s ‘Happy Saint Andrew’s Day’ in Scottish Gaelic.
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. In Scotland the day is also seen as the start of a season of Scottish winter festivals encompassing St Andrew’s Day, Hogmanay and Burns Night. There are week-long celebrations in the town of St Andrews and in some other Scottish cities.
Who was Saint Andrew and why is he the patron saint of Scotland?
Saint Andrew was born in the biblical village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee in between the years 5AD and 10AD.
He was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples and was as a fishermen in Galilee. Andrew was a Christian preacher and is thought to have travelled to Greece on a Christian mission. However when there, he is believed to have been killed by crucifixion, on a diagonal cross-shaped crucifix at Patras.
According to legend, St Andrew appeared to the Pictish King Óengus mac Fergusa (Óengus II) in a dream and told him his army would be victorious. On the day of the battle, the symbol of a saltire – reminiscent of the diagonal cross St Andrew was crucified on – appeared in the sky and Óengus II and his army were triumphant.
Scotland’s flag was chosen in honour of that moment, and it is also how the ancient town of St Andrew’s got its name.
The Saltire Flag
St Andrew’s Day is an official flag day in Scotland. The Scottish Government’s flag-flying regulations state that the Flag of Scotland (the Saltire or Saint Andrew’s Cross) shall fly on all its buildings with a flagpole. Prior to 2002, the Scottish Government followed the UK Government’s flag days and would only fly the Union Flag on Saint Andrew’s Day. The regulations were updated to state that the Union Flag would be removed and replaced by the Saltire on buildings with only one flagpole.
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