As we look forward to this year’s St Andrew’s Day celebrations, here is a little peek into his life, his work and the Scottish values that we celebrate on St Andrew’s Day.
St Andrew has been celebrated in Scotland for over one thousand years, with feasts being held in his honour as far back as the year 1000 AD. However, it wasn’t until 1320, when Scotland’s independence was declared with the signing of The Declaration of Arbroath, that he officially became Scotland’s patron saint. Since then St Andrew has become an integral part of Scottish society. The flag of Scotland is the saltire, also known as St Andrew’s Cross, and the ancient town of St Andrews was named due to its claim of being the final resting place of St Andrew.
With so many different connections to our country, it’s worth considering how St Andrew came to be so important to Scotland. The answer is surprisingly simple, and sums up some of the most prominent characteristics that you can find in Scots both at home and abroad.
FOLLOWING HIS LEAD
He has struck a chord with the Scots for thousands of years and anyone who has visited Scotland can vouch that his spirit is still alive here today. If you’re lost, many Scots are happy to point you in the right direction. In fact, Scotland is known around the world for its incredibly warm welcome and friendliness. It’s one of the many things that keeps people coming back to visit.
Scotland's desire to help those who are less fortunate is highlighted in the many social enterprises that are thriving across the country. You only have to look at the amazing success of companies like Social Bite, who are pioneering charitable causes in an unprecedented way. They’re not the only ones, as Scotland is home to more than 6000 social enterprises, adding £2.3bn to the Scottish economy every year. All these incredible companies are dedicated to providing an ethical and more sustainable way of doing business and working towards creating a fairer world.
Popularisation of St Andrew’s Day
Despite the fact that St Andrew has stood as Scotland’s patron saint for so many years, it wasn’t until the 18th century that the popular celebration of his day became commonplace. What might surprise you even more is that the tradition of celebrating on 30 November was not started in Scotland, but by a group of Scots in the USA who were keen to reconnect with their Scottish roots.
It all began with the creation of the ‘St Andrew’s Society of Charleston’ in South Carolina, which was founded in 1729 by a group of wealthy Scottish immigrants. The organisation is actually the oldest Scottish society of its type in the world. They became famous throughout the region for their work assisting orphans and widows in that area.
This was followed by another society, this time in New York, which was founded in 1756. ‘The St Andrew’s Society of the State of New York’ is the oldest charity of any kind registered in New York and was founded by Scotsmen who were looking to relieve the poor and distressed in the town. From these first organisations, St Andrew’s societies have spread around the world.
Recently, St Andrew’s Day has become more special to Scots and is celebrated each year on 30 November, and people across the country gather to celebrate St Andrew and share good times. The day is usually marked with a celebration of Scottish culture, including dancing, music, food and drink, with parties going on long into the cold winter night.