St. Andrew’s Day

Unlike the other British and Irish patron saint days observed in Springtime, St. Andrew’s Day is November 30.

Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, Romania and Russia and was Christ’s first disciple.

After the Kingdom of Alba was created, Columba was surpassed as Scotland’s premier saint. St. Andrew was in a different league from Columba: not only did he appear in the Bible, but he was an apostle of Jesus.

His relics appeared in Scotland under mysterious circumstances, and were placed in a Pictish monastery at Kinrymont (the church of the King’s Muir) probably founded by the Pictish warrior-king, Unust, in the mid-eighth century.

In the 11th century, as the Kingdom of Alba expanded across Scotland, St. Andrew’s popularity with royal patrons increased. St. Andrew was a useful unifying symbol for a kingdom of diverse devotions to different saints and was free of any taint of unorthodoxy. Kings like Malcolm Canmore and his queen, Margaret, actively promoted the town of St. Andrews, as Kilrymont is now known, as a major centre for pilgrimage and the home of the Scottish Church.

Other facts in brief

  • He was born in Bethsaida in Galilee
  • He was born and brought up as a Jew
  • He spoke Aramaic
  • Andrew’s Greek name was Andreas which means ‘manly’
  • He was the elder brother of Saint Peter
  • Andrew was a fisherman by trade
  • He was the second person to be baptised by John the Baptist after Jesus
  • Andrew was martyred for his faith in Patras
  • Legend has it that some of St Andrew’s bones were taken to Scotland by St. Rule (also known as St Regulus) in Pictish times
  • His bones once lay in St. Andrew’s Cathedral
  • The first church in England to be dedicated to him was in Rochester
  • His emblem is a cross Saltire
  • The flag of Scotland, the Union Flag, the Arms and Flag of Scotia all feature a Saltire to commemorate St Andrew
  • He is also patron of the Order of the Thistle, one of the highest ranks of chivalry in the world


Although a beautiful but noxious wild flower, the thistle is Scotland’s National Flower. The Flower of Scotland tartan is the national tartan and the adopted unofficial national anthem is Flower of Scotland, a folk song by The Corries.

It is traditional to wear a bit of tartan today.  Do I have any?  Yes.  Does it fit me?  In my mind.

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16 responses to “St. Andrew’s Day

  1. Ah, go ahead and wear the tartan anyway :o)

    Thanks for the article, I didn’t know many of the things you mentioned about St. Andrew.

  2. I knew numbers 2 and 6 about St. Andrew on your list but that’s it. Thanks for all the information about him and the day.

  3. Order of the Thistle just makes me think of Monty Python.

    Does that make it wrong?

    Yeah. Probably.

  4. And a happy St Andrews Day (+1) to you too!

  5. I second what Mike said – And I had no idea that the Union Jack was actually a Saltire cross in commemoration of St. Andrew. Thank you for teaching me something I didn’t know.

  6. I said it elsewhere, but I hope you had a wonderful St. Andy’s Day. The other two Irish/British saint days are big to dos in our house for Knuteish reasons 🙂 3/17 & 4/23 ! I would’ve used Andrew as a name – well duh! – with Stewart (of course!), but my BIL is Andy & he’s a doofus.

  7. I have thought about David (Wales) Andrew (Scotland) to carry the tradition of the Isles patron saints.

  8. Interesting!
    I love a lot of the traditions and customs from your neck of the woods. Especially the different tartans for the clans in the highlands.

  9. I love this sort of history lesson. The tartan is gorgeous. Happy St. Andrew’s Day (belated).

  10. A thistle…? REALLY???? Is this the same type of thistle that I’m thinking of?

    I love learning things about your culture! Makes me love ya all the more.

  11. Battered Mars Bars all round today then!

  12. Happy St. Andrew’s Day! I hope you enjoy it.. it does count if it fits in your mind!!lol
    hugs,
    Jean

  13. Does it fit me? In my mind!
    Love it. Classic BritDifferent!!

  14. Happy Happy Day…wear the tartan…and my mind says it fits! lol!

  15. I went to a St Andrew’s Day dinner dance. All the men in kilts and women in posh frocks.
    Great night out.

  16. Thanks for that Siobhan, how interesting?

    Tartan is all the rage now, I’m sure it still fits…

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