St Andrew's Day Tales and Traditions

30 Oct 2015
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There are many tales and traditions from across the world that exist around St Andrews Day, here are some of the most famous.​

Romania

In Romania it is a time for magic rituals to ward off evil spirits and purify the land and the people. The secret weapon is garlic, eaten on the night before St Andrew's Day at a communal meal either as whole cloves or in a sauce. Cloves of garlic are placed strategically beside doors, windows and chimneys.

Poland

Many people believe that St Andrew is the patron saint of Poland. In fact, it is Saint Casimir Jagiellon (1458-84). However, the last day of November in Poland is a night for charming and light-hearted games where girls can search for husbands and have their fortunes told.

Bulgaria

In Bulgaria, St Andrew's Day is known as Edrei (Bear's Day). The story goes that St Andrew complained to God that he had no feast day, so God told him that any man who did not celebrate St Andrew's Day would have to carry his own horse! In olden times housewives would throw boiled corn onto the fire to stop the bears ruining their crops. One legend records that an evil stepmother was punished by having her daughter turned into a bear.

Ukraine

In the Ukraine, St Andrew's Day is celebrated on 13 December with fortune-telling and parties where pancakes and pastries were used for games which were supposed to help girls find a husband. It was also a time for mischievous pranks such as putting a plough on a house roof or taking a gate off its hinges - all pre-Christian traditions connected with courtship and marriage.

Germany

German folklore advises single women who wish to marry to ask for St Andrew's help. The night before the 30th, if they sleep naked, they will see their future husbands in their dreams. Young women should also note the location of barking dogs on St Andrew's Eve, as their future husbands will come from that direction.

Religious Celebrations

In churches all over over Europe, the last day of November is a day to remember the Apostle who gave his life for spreading the Good News. In Patras (built on the shores of the Ionian Sea and the third largest city in Greece), the Cathedral of St Andrew close to the sea, is packed with worshippers, who then spill out into the streets for the dramatic and colourful procession where the relics (housed in a silver shrine) and the icon (holy painting) of Saint Andrew are carried, accompanied by chants and prayers.

Further west in the Mediterranean, on the southwest coast of Italy, facing the Gulf of Salerno, is the picturesque port of Amalfi. There, the Cathedral of Saint Andrew, sitting at the summit of steep and wide steps, glitters with gold mosaic. Inside, are the relics of the saint and his magnificent silver statue which is then carried out around the streets and squares of Amalfi to celebrate the Saint's day.

Today, the magnificent 18th century St Andrew's Cathedral in Kiev, with its white and pale blue walls, its green onion domes fringed with gold, stands where many earlier churches were built to commemorate the hilltop where St Andrew is believed to have put up the first Christian cross. Many wooden churches were built there, destroyed by marauding armies or simply pulled down. Here the feast of St Andrew is still celebrated every year.

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