St. Andrew’s Day: Celebrate Scottish culture in honor of a disciple of Jesus

Line of formally dressed adults, some in traditional Scottish plaid, entering large room

Chief Executive of Scottish Development International Anne MacColl enters a room with First Minister Alex Salmond, and others, during a 2011 St Andrew’s Day celebration in Beijing. Photo by Don Yap, courtesy of Flickr

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 30: A meek fisherman from the Sea of Galilee has spurred an international inspiration spanning more than 1,000 years, culminating annually in a feast known as St. Andrew’s Day. Ironically, little is known about the life of St. Andrew, aside from discipleship of both John the Baptist and Jesus, yet posthumous events have increased the saint’s popularity through the centuries. The Scottish flag, the Saltire, presents a visual reference to the X-shaped cross on which Christian tradition says St. Andrew was crucified on this date in 60 CE.

Legend has it that when a vital battle took place between the Picts and the Angles, in 832 CE, the St. Andrew’s cross appeared in the sky the morning of the battle; the Picts, encouraged by the symbol, were victorious in battle. Today, the Saltire is flown throughout Scotland and enormous festivals take place in honor of St. Andrew’s Day.

ANDREW: THE BIBLICAL FIGURE

According to the New Testament, Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter and a fisherman at the Sea of Galilee. One day, Jesus approached the brothers and offered them the opportunity to follow—to become “fishers of men.” Both men followed Jesus. The Gospel of John tells the story slightly differently: that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist until Jesus came into their midst, at which point Andrew turned to follow Jesus, instead. Accounts tell of Andrew preaching far and wide until his death at Patras, where he was crucified. (Wikipedia has details.) It’s believed that Andrew requested to be crucified on an X-shaped cross, as he regarded himself as unworthy of being crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been.

PATRON OF SCOTLAND, RUSSIA, POLAND & MORE

White cup with lump of white soup, chives on top, roll of bread to the left

Traditional Scottish cullen skink with bread. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Though arguably most well known for his ties with Scotland, St. Andrew is also the patron saint of Greece, Romania, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Barbados and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Both Eastern and Western Christians honor St. Andrew on Nov. 30.

Documents indicate that St. Andrew’s Day has been a national festival in Scotland since the 11th century, and today, this feast is marked with an abundance of tantalizing Scottish food, rhythmic music, traditional dance and colorful shows. A week of celebrations takes place in Edinburgh, and St. Andrew’s Day kicks off the season of winter festivals across Scotland.

Cook up Scottish fare—from rosemary roasted lamb to spiced winter fruit with creamed vanilla rice pudding—with recipes found here.

Download the St. Andrew’s Day app, and gain access to a listing of worldwide events, interactive history tools and more.

Tune in, with a Scottish party playlist.

Get hosting tips with a guide to Scottish parties. (And Scottish whisky.)