St. Andrew’s Day (or in Scottish Gaelic ‘Là Naomh Anndrais’), marks the country’s patron saint and occurs every year on November 30th. Many Countries have a patron saint. England has St George, Wales has St David, and Ireland has St Patrick. These patron saints have generally been chosen because each country shares a significant connection with that saint.
St Andrew’s connection with Scotland comes from the Pictish King Oengus I (circa 750). He built a monastery, where the Modern Say St. Andrews University now stands in St. Andrews. King Oengus I built this monastery for St Andrews after the saint’s relics (a kneecap, tooth, arm, and finger bone) were brought to the town in the eighth century. St Andrew was not made patron saint of Scotland until after King Oengus II prayed to St. Andrew the night before a crucial battle against English warriors from Northumberland. The Picts (the modern-day Scottish) were heavily outnumbered, and Oengus II told St Andrew that he would name him the patron saint of Scotland if he helped them defeat the English warriors. On the morning of the battle, it is said that the clouds formed a saltire in the sky and the Picts were victorious. A saltire has been used to identify the Scottish people, officially since 1385, due to the magnificent cloud formation that morning.
It is said that Saint Andrew was crucified on November 30, 60AD, which is why this is the saint’s feast day. Saint Andrew is also the patron saint of many other countries including Greece, Romania, and Russia. Each country has their own way of celebrating their patron saint. In Scotland, we celebrate the best way we know how. This is with dancing, food, music, and everything Scottish.
The Saltire festival, which takes place in various locations throughout East Lothian, celebrates from the 24-30th of November. There are a range of events from Prestonpans Battlefield by Night Walking Tour, to ceilidhs, organised dinners, and farmer’s markets. All of these events celebrate a unique part of Scottish culture and heritage.
Of course, Edinburgh and Glasgow have large celebrations as well. In Edinburgh you can find local street vendors selling traditional Scottish treats. At the The Palace of Holyroodhouse you can find a celebration on the Sunday before St Andrews Day which will feature art, music and stories for the whole family to enjoy. There are similar scenes in Glasgow including feasts, dinners, and of course the Saint Andrews Torch Light Parade.
Celebrations like these happen all over the country from Inverness to Dumfries and everywhere in between. It not only marks the day of our patron saint, but it also gives the country a great sense of pride in being Scottish by celebrating all that it means to be Scottish.