All you Need to Know About St Andrew's Day


There’s no doubt that the Scots love a celebration – and they do it well. With St Andrew’s Day, or ‘Là Naomh Anndrais’ in Scottish Gaelic, just around the corner, you’ll no doubt hear a lot of noise. A national day, and an excuse for a good ol’ bank holiday in honour of the patron saint of Scotland, Scots and Scots at heart come together to showcase the best of Scottish culture.

You may be wondering, what’s the history behind this special day and what’s it really all about? Look no further, let’s delve deeper into the story behind St Andrew’s Day…

Who was St Andrew?

According to Christian teachings, Saint Andrew was a fisherman and one of Jesus Christ’s twelve disciples, from Galilee (now modern-day Israel). Like Jesus, Andrew was martyred for his beliefs, being killed by the Romans and crucified in Greece in 60 AD (supposedly on the 30th November, explaining the significance of the recurring date). However, he was nailed upon an X-shape cross; Andrew refused the T-shape cross as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same cross as Jesus.

For the detectives among you, this is the same cross (known as a saltire) that makes up the Scottish flag, ultimately representing the Saint nationally.


Scottish Flag

What Happened Next?

It wasn’t until a few years later that his relics arrived in Scotland – ironically, St Andrew never set foot on Scotland’s shores when he was alive!

Fast forward a couple of centuries, St Andrew’s Cathedral was built in 1318 to house the saint’s reliquary, and he became the official patron saint of Scotland two years later.

It wasn't until the 18th century that celebrating St Andrew's Day became common in Scotland. Initially starting in the United States, a group of wealthy Scottish immigrants wished to reconnect with St Andrew’s philanthropic ideals in Charleston, South Carolina. And so, the tradition was born! 

St Andrew, Patron Saint of…

It’s not all about you Scots you know! Scotland shares custody of Saint Andrew with Russia, Greece, Barbados, Cyprus, Ukraine, Amalfi and Romania (as of 2015), however he is celebrated through several different traditions and symbols. For example, young women in Romania put 41 grains of wheat under their pillow before going to sleep on November 30th; if they dream that someone is coming to steal them, then they are thought to be getting married the year after.

If that’s not enough for Saint Andrew, he is also kept busy as the patron saint of fishmongers, fishermen, pregnant women, spinsters, singers and maidens, and is said to offer protection against sore throats and gout. Now that’s a hefty job title!

St Andrews Castle

The Scottish Way to Celebrate

Not wanting to miss out on all the fun, Scotland brought the tradition back to the motherland soon after. St Andrew’s Day was finally made a bank holiday in Scotland in 2006 – much to the frustration of the English and Welsh!

It’s now an occasion centred around Scottish culture, including cuisines - regional and national - dancing and music. Traditional dishes such as haggis, neep and tatties are served, and Scottish country dancing is encouraged – alongside the wearing of the iconic kilt for that added touch of ‘Scot’. Furthermore, it kickstarts the festive season, marking the beginning of festivals such as Hogmanay and Burns Night.

With a rich history, St Andrew’s Day certainly deserves its grand celebrations. Some celebrations, such as those in St Andrew’s, can even go on for a week – any excuse for a big party, eh?