The History Behind St. Andrew’s Day

November is the month of Scotland’s patron saint, St Andrew. A time for food, drink and dancing. But who exactly is St Andrew, and what is St Andrew’s Day all about? Keep reading to learn about the history of our patron saint!

Every year on the 30th day of November, we commemorate our patron saint Andrew for his kindness and compassion.

Ironically, St Andrew’s Day, otherwise known as ‘Là Naomh Anndrais’ in Scottish Gaelic, was not actually introduced by Scotland, but by a group of American ex-pats who were keen to reconnect with their Scottish roots instead. Nonetheless, St Andrew has been celebrated by Scots for over 1,000 years.

Who was St Andrew?

According to Christianity, Andrew was a fisherman in Galilee before him and his brother, St. Peter became two of Jesus’ first disciples. Not much is known about Andrew’s life, however, it’s thought that he travelled to Greece to preach Christianity until he was crucified on the 30th November 60AD, on an X-shaped cross. This cross is represented by the white X on the Scottish Saltire flat.

But Andrew never even stepped foot on Scottish soil, let alone come from our country. So, what exactly is the connection? Legend says that Scotland is Andrew’s final resting place, and his bones were brought to a small town in the north of Scotland, now known as St Andrews, in 732 AD.

St Andrew officially became Scotland’s patron saint when the country was declared an independent nation by the Declaration of Arbroath in 1302. Since then, St Andrew became a symbolic figure of Scotland with many establishments being named in his honour such as St Andrew’s Cathedral and Saint Andrew’s University.

How is the day celebrated?

As you can imagine, St Andrew’s Day in Scotland is celebrated in true Scottish style – with whisky, haggis and ceilidh dancing.  This year, some people in Scotland are lucky enough to even receive a Monday off work!

St Andrew’s Day around the world

Andrew isn’t only the patron saint of Scotland, he stands for Romania, Greece, Russia, Ukraine and Poland too.

Whilst St Andrew’s Day is also commemorated on the 30th of November in these countries, celebrations aren’t so similar. In Poland, for example, St Andrew’s Day, or ‘Andrzejki’, was traditionally only celebrated by young single women. Today, both young men and women join in celebrations by having their futures foretold at a ceremony which involves pouring candle wax through a hole in a key and into cold water. It’s thought that the shadow of the wax produced symbolises a prophecy for the next year.

Are you celebrating St Andrew’s Day this year?

Find out what your connection is to Scotland and join in the celebrations with our Come Home to Scotland package. Return to your roots and follow in the footsteps of family from years gone by.

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