ST. ANDREW’S CELEBRATIONS

ST. ANDREW’S CELEBRATIONS

by Jane Forsyth 

St Andrew celebrations Port-Vendres 2019

 

In 2019 the Association Charles Rennie Mackintosh en Roussillon celebrated the feast of St.Andrew for the first time, with a traditional Scottish evening, which was so popular that we planned to repeat it this year. Sadly, we have had to cancel our planned celebrations of St. Andrew’s night because of the Covid-19 restrictions.

St. Andrew’s Day is the 29th November. It is the celebration of the Scottish patron saint, St. Andrew and commemorates the start of Scotland as a nation. My maiden name is Anderson, which means “Andrew’s Son” so I have always felt close to him.

There are many traditions in Scotland and the north of England relating to him. For example, one superstition uses the cross of Saint Andrew as a hex sign on the fireplaces to prevent witches from flying down the chimney and entering the house to do mischief.

St Andrew

 

St Andrew, the brother of St Peter, was the first apostle called by Jesus but he is known today as the patron saint of countries such as Romania, Russia, and Scotland. He went to Greece and after converting the proconsul’s wife to Christianity, he was crucified by being fastened to an X-shaped cross by cords. It is said that he chose the shape of the cross because he felt unworthy to hang on the same type of cross as Jesus.

St Andrews from Regulus tower Peter Gordon 15 mai 2004

 

Several legends state that the relics of Andrew were brought by divine guidance from Constantinople to the place where the modern Scottish town of St Andrews stands today.

flag of ScotlandThe Saltire

St Andrew has been celebrated in Scotland for over a thousand years, with feasts being held in his honour as far back as the year 1000 AD. However, it wasn’t until 1320, when Scotland’s independence was declared with the signing of The Declaration of Arbroath, that he officially became Scotland’s patron saint and the flag of Scotland, the Saltire with its St Andrew’s Cross, was chosen to honour him.

Despite the fact that St Andrew has stood as Scotland’s patron saint for so many years, it wasn’t until the 18th century that the popular celebration of his day became commonplace. What is even more surprising is that the tradition of celebrating on November 30th was not started in Scotland, but by a group of ex-pats in the USA who wanted to celebrate their Scottish roots. More recently, St Andrew’s Day has become more and more special to Scots and starts off Scotland’s winter each year on November 30. People gather together to celebrate St Andrew and share a celebration of Scottish culture, including dancing, music, food and drink, with parties going on long into the cold winter night.

St andrew's celebrations Port Vendres 2019

 

No St Andrew’s Day celebration is complete without a traditional Scottish ceilidh that ensures everyone gets a turn on the dance floor regardless of age or dance ability! Traditional reels and Strathspeys may make you breathless but ensure that you need another nip of whisky to keep you going long into the night!

And so this year we can only celebrate our National day with this little note of respect to our Saint – and maybe a nip of the hard stuff to keep us going … until 2021 when we can maybe all get together again. Slàinte mhat!

flower of Scotland

O Flower of Scotland,
When will we see
Your like again,
That fought and died for,
Your wee bit Hill and Glen,
And stood against him,
Proud Edward’s Army,
And sent him homeward,
To think again.

The Hills are bare now,
And Autumn leaves
lie thick and still,
O’er land that is lost now,
Which those so dearly held,
That stood against him,
Proud Edward’s Army,
And sent him homeward,
To think again.

 

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