St Andrew’s Day is Scotland’s national day, and is celebrated on 30th of November. As St Andrew is also the patron saint of Greece, Barbados, Bulgaria, Romania, and Russia, celebrations are held all over the world on this day. His patronage is associated with fishmongers, singers, spinsters, and women wishing to become mothers.
Here at Psychic Future, we decided to explore the brief history of St Andrew’s and what traditions other countries have.
A Brief History
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Scotland’s patron saint was a Galilean fisherman, who joined Jesus Christ’s disciples with his brother Simon Peter. Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross, in Greece by the Romans. His remains are kept in Amalfi in southern Italy. It’s believed that a Greek monk received a vision that showed him he should travel by sea to take Andrew’s relics somewhere far away for safe keeping. The monk ended up in a settlement in Fife, in Scotland, and this is now the town of St Andrews.
In 1320, Andrew was recognised as an official patron saint of Scotland, and the Saint Andrew’s Cross was later adopted as the national emblem of the Scots people. St Andrew’s Day was declared a public holiday, in 2006, by the Scottish Parliament. When 30 November falls on a weekend the following Monday becomes the public holiday. The University of St Andrews traditionally gives students the day off.
Traditions And Customs
The national holiday kicks off with festivities that include food, music, traditional ceilidh dancing and fireworks, in Scotland. It’s common to be served up tasty haggis, neeps and tatties. St Andrew’s marks the start of Scotland’s winter festival season, which also includes Hogmanay (31 December) and Burns Night (25 January).
Barbados marks its national day of Independence on St Andrew’s Day. Independence Day celebrations typically start with a parade and ceremony, followed by exhibitions of music, dance, drama and the arts.
St Andrew’s Day is commonly known as Edrei (Bear’s Day), in Bulgaria. The name comes from an old folk tale of an evil stepmother who punished her daughter by turning her into a bear, for not celebrating St Andrew’s Day.
German folklore advises single women, wishing to marry Mr Right, to ask St Andrew for help on the eve of St Andrew’s Day. Apparently, if they sleep naked they will see a vision of their future husbands in their dreams.
In Patras, where Andrew was crucified, the Cathedral of St Andrew is packed with worshippers on 30 November. The people join together in a colourful procession that carries relics of Saint Andrew all over the town, to the accompaniment of prayers and chants.
In Amalfi, on the southwest coast of Italy, people visit the Cathedral of Saint Andrew to celebrate on this day. The magnificent silver statue of St Andrew is carried out and paraded in the streets.
In Poland, St Andrew’s Day festivities include light-hearted games involving fortune telling.
Magic rituals are performed in Romania on St Andrew’s Day. People get together in local communities to share food that is flavoured with garlic. The garlic is believed to ward off evil spirits and to purify the land. Garlic cloves are also placed around doorways and windows.
Unlike most other countries, the Ukraine celebrates St Andrew’s Day on 13 December. The festivities include fortune-telling games and mischievous pranks.