So, this weekend is a big holiday across Scotland, yep – you guessed it – St. Andrews Day. A day when everyone celebrates by bagpipe competitions, wee Scottie Dog races, Haggis eating contests, eating deep fried Mars bars, stone throwing competitions, bushiest beard contests, and fireworks. Celebrating St Andrews, this is a day when bakeries create “little blue St Andrews day gingerbread men” and children of all ages go door to door giving little bags of sticks and pebbles to elderly people.
Well, OK – most of that is made up. Actually, I guess it’s all made up.
There has been a whole weekend of festivities marking the occasion, all across Scotland. From ceilidhs (kay-lees, traditional Scottish dancing), to food festivals, free music and even fireworks. Sorry, no Scottie dog races but it was your chance to hear The Red Hot Chilli Pipers!
St Andrews Day is celebrated on 30 November, but there is a whole weekend of events. It marks the feast day of Saint Andrew, the patron Saint of Scotland. No one is really sure how it happened, there are legends and stories from every part of Scotland, but what is known is that St Andrew was crucified on a cross that was in the form of an “X” – a Saltire.
This legend that has endured the ages states that around 832 AD, in an area that is now known as the town of Athelstaneford (a few miles east of present day Edinburgh) the night before a rather big battle with the English, King Angus prayed to St Andrew that he and his troops would have enduring faith, strength and stamina. The next morning, the King was met with a beautiful blue sky and clouds high in the sky that appeared to form a cross. The King viewed this as a wonderful omen, and declared that if they won the looming battle, the St Andrews Cross would become a symbol on flag of the Scottish people. I guess you can imagine how that particular battle turned out. The Saltire has been recognized as the oldest continuously flying National flag in the world. Pretty cool.
We spent this particularly special weekend enjoying the city, walking the Royal Mile, touring the fantastic Parliment building and in general, enjoying the snowfall. There is of all things a German outdoor market in the heart of Edinburgh as well, so we saluted the spirit of St Andrew, with a hearty cup of mulled wine, grilled pork cutlet sandwiches with kraut and sauce, and a healthy helping of Bratkartoffeln, German Sauteed Potatoes! Yes, a Scottish celebration – German style!
We love Scottish holidays!
Happy St Andrews Day everyone.