Friday, 30 November 2012

Happy St. Andrew's Day!

Today is the 30th November and it's St. Andrew’s Day in Scotland

Nowadays not much happens in Scotland that’s unusual on St. Andrew’s day. People go to work, children to school, and life goes on as normal. There has been some recent campaigning to have it deemed a public holiday in Scotland and used to encourage tourist traffic. That’s not quite happened yet- some people think Scottish weather too unpredictable, and they would be right about that! Children in my local school used to have a Scottish focus day on November the 30th, though my information on that may be a little out of date. It is, however, Book Week Scotland so the chances are that at least some classes will be reading and discussing the story of St. Andrew, and how the Saltire flag came to be the symbol of the day.

Right now it's a freezing cold start to the day. Scraping of car windows is going on and some, like me, chose to ignore that chore and decided to walk to school and out and about locally. Jack frost is definitely nipping those toes, and although it is sunny I doubt much melting will happen during the day.

 Morning sun  -  the view from my desk. Crisp leaves and crunchy grass. I'm happy. I love walking in the cold air when suitably wrapped, and I don't have to feel guilty about NOT raking up those leaves! But back to St. Andrew's Day. 

What is the Saltire, or St. Andrew’s flag, all about?

There have been various versions of the tale and I give you only one here.

The Patron Saint of Scotland is St. Andrew. Andrew was one of the Twelve Apostles, a disciple of Jesus. Like Jesus was nailed to a cross to die so, too, was Andrew. It is said Andrew did not think himself worthy of being on the same shape of cross as Jesus, who had an upright (plus) cross. Instead, Andrew’s was a ‘multiplication sign’ cross. After his death Andrew’s remains were buried in Greece, in Patrae.

By almost 400 AD the Roman Emperor of the time, Constantius, declared Patrae was not a suitable place for the relics to lie and ordered the remains to be brought to his capital city of Constantinople.
At that time the keeper of the remains was Regulus. Regulus had a dream where an angel told him that instead of Constantinople the remains should be taken to the edge of the world, at that time known as Caledonia.

After a hazardous journey with the casket Regulus arrived at Mukros, on the east coast of Scotland. He buried the remains there and set up a church. The English translation for Regulus is ‘rule’ and to this day there is a stone tower at St. Andrews, in Fife, called Saint Rule’s Tower. It lies next to the ruined cathedral in St. Andrews. It is said the stone tower replaced Regulus’s original wood, mud and turf church and the bones of St. Andrew lie buried beneath it. 

We then skip on to the year 761AD when the kingdom of the Picts (then only a part of what we know of as Scotland today) was battling against the Anglo-Saxons (northern England of today). The two armies were encamped near each other ready to do battle when Angus, king of the Picts, had a dream. He saw St. Andrew come towards him bearing a silver cross (saltire) which shone out against the blue of the sky. The next day the Picts won the bloody battle and henceforth the saltire was adopted as the badge of the Picts.
Many years later the badge of St. Andrew was adopted as the standard for the whole unified Scotland, the land of Scotland as we know it today.

And so, it is said, the saltire cross came to represent Scotland.

Enjoy St. Andrew's Day.


1 comment:

  1. Belated Happy St Andrews Day, Nancy. What an interesting story about the origin of the 'soltire' I knew some but not all of the legend.

    Being a fellow Celt I think it's important to remember and honour our 'Saint's Days'. In my native Wales, on March 1st, it is traditional to hold services in the chapels, and Eisteddfords (concerts) are held in most of the schools. Nearly everyone wears a leek or a daffodil, and the Welsh dragon is flown. I always wear a daffodil and fly the Welsh flag from 1st March until 2nd October (my birthday.)

    I hope at least some Scots were celebrating St Andrews Day yesterday!


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