Every year on this date Scotland celebrates St Andrew's Day. It is our national day, but how well do you really know our patron saint? Here are some interesting facts about St Andrew that you may not have known about.
Not only is he the patron saint of Scotland, but he is also the patron saint of Romania, Greece, Ukraine, Russia and Barbados. It is said that Regulus the monk, brought some of St Andrew's relics to Scotland, after having a vision that he must take them for safe keeping to the ends of the earth. He eventually landed on the coast of Fife and was gifted by the Pictish king, land to build a church on. The church became St Andrew's Cathedral and the surrounding town became St Andrews.
In 1320 at the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath, Andrew was recognised as the official patron saint of Scotland for the first time. It was part of an appeal to the Pope at the time by a group of Scottish noblemen asserting Scotland’s independence from England. Then a 100 years later in 1413, St Andrew's university was founded and became the oldest in Scotland.
Sadly the Scottish Saltire flag is said to be based on the shape of the cross that St Andrew was crucified on by the Romans in Patras, Greece. Remains of this cross still exist in the St Andrew's Cathedral there to this day. The date was the 30th November 60AD. Some time later his remains were transported to Constantinople and then again to Amalfi in Italy, where they still remain to this day.
The relics brought to Scotland by the monk included some bones, a kneecap, a tooth, a finger, and one of his arms. This made St Andrew's a popular medieval pilgrimage site. Unfortunately these relics were destroyed during the Scottish Reformation in the 16th century. The Archbishop of Amalfi presented Andrew’s shoulder blade to St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh in 1879. Then in 1969 Pope Paul VI donated further relics to the Cathedral.
Thankfully today its all a little bit more joyous when it comes to remembering and celebrating our patron saint, both in Scotland and around the world. It is also seen as the start of the Scottish Winter festival which also includes Hogmanay and Burns Night.
St Andrew's Day is now seen as a day of celebration of Scottish traditions and culture. It is full of poetry, Scottish dancing, ceilidhs, bag pipes, traditional Scottish food and drink.
Why not try a wee nip of Whisky with your meal tonight. Tastes even better out of a Paul Hodgkiss Designs hand made traditional wooden Quaich, available online or in store.