St. Andrew’s Day
St. Andrew’s Day is a religious holiday celebrated on November 30th in Scotland as a bank holiday and around the world as an observance, especially in countries where Saint Andrew is the patron saint, such as Barbados, Bulgaria, Colombia, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Russia, Scotland, and Ukraine. Saint Andrew was the brother of Peter and is considered the first apostle.
History of St. Andrew’s Day
The New Testament of the Bible states that Saint Andrew was born in Bethsaida and was the younger brother of St. Peter. Both he and Peter were fishermen until Jesus called them to become “fishers of men.” He is believed to have been at Jesus’s Last Supper and is reported to have died on an “X” shaped cross in Greece.
St. Andrew has been the patron saint of Scotland since the 9th century. However, it wasn’t until 2007 that St. Andrew’s Day became an official bank holiday in Scotland.
Many of the traditions associated with St. Andrew’s Day date back to pagan practices. Some of these pagan practices, which include Saturnalia and Celtic practices, were intermingled with Christian traditions. This is particularly true in Romania—a country with many St. Andrew’s Day myths and legends.
St. Andrew’s Day Customs & Traditions
In Scotland, it is an official bank holiday unless it falls on a weekend. If it does fall on a Saturday or Sunday, then December 1st or 2nd is observed as a bank holiday. It is often celebrated with traditional Scottish food and dancing. It is also seen as the beginning of the Scottish winter festival season, which starts with St. Andrew’s Day and concludes with Hogmanay and Burns Night.
In Romania, St. Andrew’s Day is surrounded by years of folklore and superstition. For instance, it is believed by some that this is the day when young women can pray to be shown signs of their future husbands. It is thought that if single women place a twig of basil under their pillows and they dream of someone taking it away, then it means they will soon marry.
In Barbados, St. Andrew’s Day coincides with the country’s Independence Day. However, since Saint Andrew is a patron saint of Barbados, he is an important figure all year round, as evidenced by the St. Andrew symbolism present in their culture, which manifests through the Barbadian Coat of Arms and the tradition of the Knights and Dames of St. Andrew Honor System.