St Andrews Day is on 30 November. On this day, Scots all around the world celebrate their national day.
The Flag of Scotland - St Andrew's Saltire
The Scottish flag is the cross of St. Andrew, also known as the Saltire. It is said to be one of the oldest national flags of any country, dating back at least to the 12th century.
Who was St Andrew?
Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, Greece and Russia and was Christ's first disciple.
St. Andrew was one of the Twelve Apostles (disciples of Jesus) and brother of Simon Peter (Saint Peter). He was a fisherman by trade, who lived in Galilee (in present-day Israel.)
St. Andrew is believed to have died on a diagonally transversed cross, which the Romans sometimes used for executions. The cross St. Andrew was crucified on has been adopted as the national flag of Scotland, later incorporated into the Union Flag. The blue stands for the sky.
The thistle is widely regarded as the emblem of Scotland.
How the thistle became an emblem of Scotland
A legend tells of how a group of Scots were sleeping in a field when a group of Vikings crept up to attack. Fortunately one of the Vikings stood on a thistle, whose prickles penetrated through to his foot and made him yell with pain. His cries woke the sleeping Scots who were able to fight off their attackers. It is said that from this day the thistle has been adopted as Scotland's national emblem.
St. Andrew's Day is connected with Advent, which begins on the nearest Sunday to 30 November.
Facts, Customs and Traditions
St. Andrew's Day marks the opening of Christmas Markets.
Many Midwinter customs and folk superstitions are also connected to St. Andrew's day.
Around midnight on Nov. 29, the day before St Andrew's Day, it was traditional for girls to pray to St. Andrew for a husband. They would make a wish and look for a sign that they had been heard.
A girl wishing to marry could:
* Throw a shoe at a door. If the toe of the shoe pointed in the direction of the exit, then she would marry and leave her parents' house within a year.
* Peel a whole apple without breaking the peel and throw the peel over the shoulder. If the peel formed a letter of the alphabet, then this suggested the name of her future groom.
St Andrew's Day Celebrations
St Andrew's Day is often a celebration of general Scottishness with traditional food, music (especially bagpipes) and dancing.
St Andrew's Day - Bank Holiday
In January 2007, the St Andrew's Day Bank Holiday (Scotland) Act was given royal assent, making 30 November (or the nearest Monday if a weekend) a bank holiday in Scotland. However, instead of being a full public holiday, it is a voluntary public holiday.