Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

November 2019 (Vol. 43, Number 05)

Gracing our front cover: Jim Clark’s nephew Callum at the Jim Clark Museum in Duns. Photo: Tony March.

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.

Patron Saint

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

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

October 2019 (Vol. 43, Number 04)

Gracing our front cover: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

The Banner Says…

The Land of Myths and Legends

Scotland is a land of myths and legends. The history and stories of the nation have inspired generations of people and when in Scotland you can often
expect the unexpected. Delve into Scotland’s past and find centuries of folklore and legend that sends
shivers up your spine, or leaving you wondering could it really be?

This month a few more things may go ‘bump in the night’ as the world celebrates Halloween and perhaps a few legends will again be told of this
ancient nation, which continues to fascinate people across the world.
Scotland is certainly a spooky place, but not just on Halloween. It is a land with a long bloody history set in remote forests, castles and glens is the ideal fodder for many gruesome tales of ghosts, ghouls, folklore and myths. Not to mention Scots famous knack for storytelling, allowing for these tales and legends to be carried down through generations.

Water beast

One of Scotland’s most famous mysteries is that of the Loch Ness Monster (or ‘Nessie’ as it has affectionately come to be known). This ‘water beast’ has been documented as like a large dinosaur type creature, which is reputed to inhabit Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. ‘Nessie’ has a long neck and one or more humps protruding from the water.

The first recorded sighting of the monster was nearly 1,500 years ago when a giant beast is said to have leaped out of the loch near Inverness and eaten a local farmer. Since then, the myth of the Loch Ness Monster has magnified and become a large part of Scotland’s story.

In 1934, a London doctor snapped a photograph that seemed to show a dinosaur looking creature emerging from the deep and cold water. Dozens of sightings have since been claimed, many of which have turned out to be hoaxes, while others make you wonder what that could be. In 2009, a newspaper reader claims to have spotted ‘Nessie’ whilst browsing Google Earth’s satellite photos of Loch Ness. The Loch Ness Monster is used in
Google searches about 200,000 times per month. Regardless of the truth, the suggestion of the monster’s existence makes Loch Ness one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions, with thousands visiting its shores each year with the hope of catching a rare glimpse of the famous monster.

Loch Ness is, in fact, the second deepest body of water in Scotland and contains more fresh water than all the lakes of England and Wales combined, which could make for
plenty of room for a giant monster.

In this issue

Scotland’s most famous mystery is without question Nessie. A team of researchers have recently collected e-DNA from the loch in order to ascertain if the monster ever did scientifically exist. Results have shown it may have been a giant eel, or was it? Myth or fact, Nessie is a monster money-maker for the Highland economy bringing in tens of millions of pounds to the area, with visitors from across the world drawn to the beauty of the area and of course the legend.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is also famous the world over, and very rightly so. This unique event draws crowds and performers from all over the globe, with massed pipes and drums, military bands, display teams, dancers and the haunting lament of the Lone Piper set against the magnificent backcloth of Edinburgh Castle. The Tattoo must be on many people’s bucket list, or if like me you have attended, it is an event you feel lucky to have experienced. Getting to Edinburgh for many Scottish Banner readers is not always easy so this month thousands of people will be able to attend the incredible Tattoo live as it marches into Sydney. Our Canadian readers will have the chance to get up close as well with its cinema release happening also this month. We are honoured to have Brigadier
David Allfrey from the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo take part in this edition.

This year is the 300th anniversary of Daniel Defoe’s book Robinson Crusoe. The tale of a shipwrecked sailor castaway on a tropical island has been an enduringly popular story ever since it was published in April 1719 and remains one of the most famous books in literary history. However, it was an adventurous Scot, Alexander Selkirk, that inspired Defoe who used the tales as the basis for his novel, in an instance of life being stranger than fiction.

Scotland’s fabric and story

I have sat at the edge of Loch Ness a few times and wondered what lies beneath those deep waters. I don’t think anyone would visit Loch Ness and not at least take a moment to see if anything is there, just in case. Has science confirmed through DNA findings that Nessie was not in fact an aquatic reptile left over from the Jurassic era? Perhaps, but I know the next time I get back to the loch I will again scan the waters horizon and look to see if the ‘water beast’ is there.
The legend to me is bigger than anything science can claim. It is part of Scotland’s fabric and story. It has fascinated millions of people from across the world and drawn many to come to Scotland, making Nessie a significant contributor to the tourism economy.
I can only assume that there will be future Nessie sightings, and I would not want it any other way!

Have you been to Loch Ness or are fascinated by a certain piece of Scottish legend?  Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us