November 2019 (Vol. 43, Number 05)
The Banner Says…
Celebrating St Andrew
As we enter the second last month of this decade it
appears to not be a quiet end to the year. Depending where you live things tend to either really heat up or cool down and as the festive season quickly approaches there is much to look forward to.
One event of course that is particular to Scots is St Andrews Day on November 30th with celebrations by the Scottish community taking place across the world.
Perhaps I should correct myself as St Andrew is not simply just the patron Saint of Scotland, in fact he is the patron Saint of Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Italy’s Amalfi region, Barbados and more. Andrew is also the patron saint of singers, spinsters, maidens, fishmongers, fishermen, women wanting to be mothers, gout and sore throats. And whilst Andrew was not Scottish his connection with Scotland relates to the legend that some of his remains were kept at the site that is now the town of St Andrews.
Born around 6 B.C in a place near Galilee, Andrew was a fisherman by trade, brother to Peter and the first to sign up as an apostle – leading to him having a seat at the last supper. Legend has it that Andrew was crucified on the x-shaped cross – from which the design for Saltire sprang from – in the city of Patras, Greece, in 60 AD.
The strange shape of the cross was devised at St Andrew’s own request as he himself felt that he was not worthy to be killed upon the same style of crucifix as Jesus.
This of course would become the inspiration of the Saltire flag we see proudly flying today.
St Andrew has been celebrated in Scotland for over a thousand years, with records showing that feasts honouring him date as far back as the year 1000 AD. In 1320 AD, when Scotland gained its own independence through the signing of The Declaration of Arbroath, St Andrew officially became Scotland’s patron saint.
The town of St Andrews is named after him with many believing that some of his remains (rumoured to be a kneecap, arm and finger bone) are buried there after being brought in exile from Europe to protect them from forces looking to destroy any remnants of the original disciples.
There are hundreds of St Andrew’s Societies spread across the world with The St. Andrew’s Society of Charleston in the US state of South Carolina, founded in 1729, believed to be the oldest.
In this issue
The reach of Scotland’s history was highlighted recently at the Douglas Days Festival in Teba, Spain. The festival plays homage to the 700-year-old legend about the exploits of Sir James Douglas. The Scottish knight, also known as the Black Douglas, was tasked with taking the embalmed heart of King Robert the Bruce to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This historic event is marked by both Scots and Spaniards and the town is now linked to both nations.
This month as we reflect on the horrors of war and the sacrifice of so many on Remembrance Day, it was great to learn about a mild-mannered Scot whose story has again surfaced out of the tragedy of war. Company Sergeant Major James Hamilton Savage persuaded the Nazis to allow him to become a beekeeper whilst being kept behind bars in a PoW camp. This fascinating Scot faced some dark days but used sweet honey to fill his days and provide some nourishment for the prisoners, this must be one of many stories of survival and I am so glad we are able to share it.
Have you ever called yourself or someone a dunce? Well I was surprised to learn the word originated from the a hugely influential but little-known Scottish philosopher, John Duns Scotus, who lived in the late 13th to early 14th centuries. Duns Scotus was an ardent internationalist who lived in Scotland, England and on the continent. He developed a philosophical justification for Scots to abandon the cause of John Balliol based on the idea of a social contract between rulers and ruled, one of the earliest articulations of a philosophy that would go on to underpin the French and American Revolutions.
A nation proud of its heritage
Scotland has the reputation of being a nation that is proud of its heritage. Today, St Andrew’s Day is marked with a celebration of Scottish culture with traditional Scottish food, music and dance. In 2006 the Scottish Government declared November 30th a public holiday and it is also the day that marks the start if the winter festivals encompassing Saint Andrew’s Day, Hogmanay and Burns Night. Many customs and folk superstitions are also connected to St Andrew’s Day, perhaps the most unique 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. Or 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.
So regardless if you are looking for a husband or not, make sure you take part in celebrating St Andrew’s Day, it does not have to be at a gala event but a nod to Scotland in any way you see fit. Perhaps wear some tartan, raise a dram, listen to the pipes, try some Scottish food or attend a St Andrew’s Day function or ceilidh-just have some fun in celebrating our culture.
And whilst celebrations will no doubt be a part of this month, so too will be reflection. I will join millions of people across the world and stop on November 11th to observe the tradition of Remembrance Day on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”
How are you celebrating St Andrew’s Day? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us