With St Andrew’s Day being one of the biggest Scottish celebrations of the year, we’re taking a look at the history of St Andrew’s Day and just why St Andrew is so closely associated with Scotland!
Why is Saint Andrew the Patron Saint of Scotland?
With Saint Andrew historically never having set foot in Scotland, the story of how Saint Andrew became the Patron Saint of Scotland is an interesting one!
Born in Galilee in the Middle East, Saint Andrew might not seem like the obvious choice to be Patron Saint of Scotland however, Saint Andrew has played an important role throughout Scottish history. The first instance of St Andrew’s history with Scotland comes some 300 years after his death. There is a legend that states that Saint Regulus (otherwise known as Saint Rule) fled Greece in 345 AD with the remains of Saint Andrew after he had a vision. Saint Regulus is said to have had a vision that told him to hide Saint Andrew’s remains at the ends of the earth, which, in 345 AD, was considered to be the distant lands of Scotland. Arriving on the coast of Fife, Saint Regulus is said to have kept Saint Andrew’s remains in what is now the town of St. Andrews!
Saint Andrew is said to have played a major part in a victory for the Picts and Scots against the Anglo-Saxons. The legend states that the King of the Picts, Oengus(Angus) II, was preparing to lead his severely outnumbered army of Picts & Scots into battle against King Aethelstan’s Anglo-Saxons. Oengus is said to have prayed to Saint Andrew for guidance, promising to make Saint Andrew the patron saint of the country if they won the battle. As dawn broke on the day of the battle, Oengus noticed a large X shape in the sky and took this as a sign from Saint Andrew that they would win the battle. They duly won the battle. Following this victory, Saint Andrew was seen as the unofficial Patron Saint of Scotland, as promised by Oengus II. This ultimately became official at the Declaration of Arbroath when Scotland declared its independence from England, declaring Andrew to be the Patron Saint of the newly independent Scotland.
St Andrew’s Cross
The Saltire, possibly the oldest flag in Europe, is one of the most instantly recognisable flags in the world and a symbol of pride for Scots the world over. So how did the Saltire come to be?
Famously, Saint Andrew was crucified in Greece on the orders of the Roman Empire. Saint Andrew was to be crucified on the standard crucifixion cross, however, believing himself unworthy of being crucified the same as Jesus, Andrew was crucified on the saltire shaped cross we know today. This symbol is now known as St Andrew’s Cross.
When Oengus II had prayed for help on the eve of battle, the X shape he saw in the sky on the morning of the battle was said to be a white cross in the blue sky. Following his victory, Oengus II stated that the flag of his kingdom should be the same white cross on a blue background as a tribute and the Saltire has been this way ever since, making it one of the oldest flags in the world!
The Patron Saint
As we’ve discussed, Saint Andrew is famously the Patron Saint of Scotland. However, Scotland isn’t the only country that Saint Andrew is the Patron Saint of…
Saint Andrew is also the Patron Saint of Greece(where he was crucified), Russia(where he is said to have preached), Amalfi in Italy (where some of his relics are preserved in the local cathedral) and Barbados. When the British originally settled in Barbados, the breathtaking views and scenery of a particular area reminded them so much of Scotland that the area was known as the “Scotland District”. As a result, in Barbados, Saint Andrew’s Day is also the national day of independence in Barbados and a day of mass celebration.
St Andrew’s Society
A symbol of pride for Scots everywhere, St Andrew, and the Saltire, has come to represent everything that is great about Scotland. For ex-pat Scots around the world, St Andrew and St Andrew’s Day is a way to celebrate your Scottish heritage. In 1729, the ‘St Andrew’s Society of Charleston’ was created in South Carolina by a group of Scottish immigrants. This society is believed to be the oldest Scottish society in the world and the inspiration for’ St Andrew’s Societies’ across the world. The first society became known for its charitable work and this continued with the St Andrew’s Society of the State of New York, which followed in 1756 and is the oldest registered charity in New York.
St Andrew’s Societies are now in all corners of the globe and are a fantastic way for Scots, and those of Scottish heritage, to come together and celebrate Scotland and the kindness and charity of these original societies.
St Andrew’s Day 2019
This St Andrew’s Day, celebrate in style with our Ex-Hire Pop-Up Sale at our Head Office in Glasgow!
For one-day-only, we are holding a special ex-hire sale event where you can get as much as 80% off of our range of ex-hire products, including kilts, jackets, waistcoats and accessories. With some never-been-worn items, this is the perfect time for you to pick up authentic Scottish highlandwear at a fraction of the price.