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Favorite Traditions of St. Andrew's Day

Updated on July 3, 2011

St Andrew's Celebration in Edinburgh

Favorite Traditions of St. Andrew’s Day will be the final Patron of Saints Celebration that occurs within the UK. It is written that St. Andrew was Christ’s first disciple and he is the Patron Saint of Scotland, Greece, and Russia. I’m sure there are some theologians or other religious experts that may differ with the previous statement. However, for the purpose of this hub I am only focusing on the belief and what is written on behalf of St. Andrew’s patron saint of Scotland.

Unlike St. George’s Day in England, the Scottish celebrates their Patron of Saints holiday. As a matter of fact, Scots all over the world have gradually begin to celebrate their national bank holiday much like the Irish celebrates St. Patrick’s Day! But hold on, it is not quite time to celebrate just yet; St. Andrew’s Day is on November 30th of every year. This special day became an official bank holiday of Scotland in 2007, however it is not a holiday for the rest of the UK. A bank holiday and not a public holiday means chances are businesses will be open; however operating on a holiday schedule. So since we have some time, perhaps you might want to grab your favorite drink, sit back relax, put up your feet, and let’s start an online journey to learn more about Saint Andrew.

Who was Saint Andrew?

As you may know Saint Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter (Saint Peter) and they lived in Galilee and were fishermen by trade prior to becoming part of the Twelve Apostles. Saint Andrew is credited with spreading the Christian religion through Asia Minor and Greece. Andrew was viewed by others as a man having authority because he was very close to Jesus, had foresight and wisdom and was referred to as “the First Called.”

It was Andrew and Philip who spoke to Jesus on behalf of the gentiles that came to see him. And it was Andrew who bought the boy with the five barley loaves and two fishes to Jesus at the feeding of five thousand. As with other patron of saints during this era that have fervently defended the Christians, St. Andrew was put to death by the Romans in Patras, Southern Greece in AD 60. According to Catholic Online, he was crucified by being tied (not nailed) to a traversed (x-shaped) cross. Legend states that he lived for two days in a state of suffering (placed on the cross upside down), however continued to preach to the people who gathered around him.

Martyrdom of St Andrew

Artwork: Bartolome Esteban Murillo, 1675-82
Artwork: Bartolome Esteban Murillo, 1675-82

St Andrew's Story

St. Andrew’s Relics Journeys to Scotland

In the earlier days of Christianity the relics (bones and other articles) of saints should be preserved to help individuals know that these Saints were real people, no matter how super heroic or extraordinary they were while living. At times these relics were split among different churches for preservation. St Andrew’s bones remained in a tomb for about 300 years and then the Emperor Constantine (the Great) ordered them to be moved to his new capital Constantinople (now Istambul in Turkey). But then, a Greek Monk called St. Regulus (or St. Rule) had a dream in which he was warned and directed by an Angel to take St. Andrew’s relics to the “ends of the earth” for safe-keeping.

As legend goes some things are not explained thoroughly, however, St. Rule was able to remove an arm bone, a kneecap, a tooth, and some fingers from St. Andrew’s tomb and started transporting these relics as far away as he could. While traveling his ship wrecked on the Fife coast of Scotland, and the spot where the ship landed became known as the town of St. Andrews.

Another legend states that Acca, the Bishop of Hexham, a reknown relics or bone collector brought the relics to St. Andrews in 733. Nonetheless, I think you will agree that the first legend sounds more dramatically mysterious. Regardless of which legend is factual a chapel was built at St. Andrews and the relics were kept there. In 1160 this chapel was replaced by the Cathedral of St. Andrews and the town became the religious capital of Scotland and a great center for medieval pilgrims to come and view the relics.

Andrew was first recognized as an official patron saint of Scotland in 1320 at the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath by Scottish noblemen asserting Scotland’s independence from England. It is believed that St. Andrew’s relics were possibly destroyed during the Scottish Reformation, in which the Protestant cause returned Scotland to Christianity from idolatry of Roman Catholicism. Nevertheless, in 1879 Archbishop of Amalfi sent a small piece of Saint Andrew’s shoulder bland to the re-established Roman Catholic community of Scotland.

Favorite Traditions of St. Andrew’s Day

National Emblem - The Thistle
National Emblem - The Thistle
St Andrew's Flag - The Saltire
St Andrew's Flag - The Saltire
The Union Flag
The Union Flag

St. Andrew’s Emblem and Flag

The thistle is a unique national emblem of Scotland. Of course there are several legends that tell how the thistle became Scotland’s symbol. One legend tells that in the late summer of 1263 King Haakon of Norway intended on conquering the Scots.

An army of Scottish Clansmen were sleeping in the fields when the Norsemen attempted to invade them by removing their footwear. Fortunately for the Scots one of the Norsemen stood on a thistle that stuck in his foot and made him yell out and awaken the Clansmen. The Scots were awakened and able to fight off their attackers and defeated the Norsemen at the Battle of Largs.

St. Andrew’s flag known as the Saltire is a white diagonal cross on sky blue background and is one of the oldest national flags of any country. The story of its origin is that St. Andrew appeared in Pictish King Angus’s dream that he would win the battle against the king from the North of England. And that on the day of the battle a white cross appeared in the sky before battle and the Scottish did win. The Saltire dates back to the 12th century and it became Scotland’s flag in 1385. Later the cross of Saint Andrew’s flag was incorporated into the Union Flag along with the cross of Saint George (England) and the cross of Saint Patrick (Ireland).

Customs, Facts, and Traditions

Some facts of interest about St. Andrew’s Day are that:

  • It is linked with Advent (awaiting the arrival of the new year of the Christian Church) which begins on the nearest Sunday to November 30th.
  • Many folklore superstitions and Midwinter customs are associated with this day of celebration.
  • It begins the opening of Christmas Markets for the winter holidays.
  • January 2007, it was named a bank holiday in Scotland, making November 30th or the nearest Monday a voluntary public holiday; however, it is not a full public holiday which would mean everyone would be off.

Photographed in coastal NSW, Australia  Wikipedia - by T. Taylor
Photographed in coastal NSW, Australia Wikipedia - by T. Taylor

There is a Saint Andrews Spider:

  • The St. Andrews Cross Spider has a genus name of Argiope and its species can be found in most warm climates throughout the globe. The Argiope keysterlingi spider (pictured) can be found from the central New South Wales to southern Queensland, and on Australia’s eastern coast.
  • As you can see the spiders’ legs resemble the X shape of the St. Andrew’s cross on which he was martyred. As stated early St. Andrew’s was believed to be crucified upside down on an X shaped cross.
  • The St. Andrews Cross Spider’s orb web is virtually invisible except for the very visible pattern of banded pure white silk made by the spider and shaped in the form of an “X” of which the spider then aligns itself, one pair of legs on each four lines.
  • Surprisingly this spider’s venom is considered to be non toxic to humans, and have no interest in biting you unless defending itself.

Single ladies throw your shoe at the door...
Single ladies throw your shoe at the door...

For young women wishing to marry:

  • On November 29th around midnight it is traditional for young women to pray to St. Andrew for a husband. Then make a wish and look for a sign that they wish and prayers were heard.
  • One sign can be seen by throwing a shoe at a door and the toe of the shoe is pointed in the direction of the exit, then she would be married within the year and be leaving her parents’ home.
  • Another sign or clue could be found by peeling an entire apple without breaking the peel. Then throw the peel over her shoulder to see if the peel formed a letter of the alphabet which might suggest the name of her future groom.

Bagpipes, Kilts, and Parades

Ceilidh Dances

St. Andrew's Day Festivals and Celebrations

St Andrew's Day Festival last year had over 50 events that started on the 28th through the 30th of November. St. Andrew’s Day is often a celebration of generally tapping back into one’s Scottish roots with traditional food, music (especially bagpipes) and dancing especially for the Scots that no longer live in their homeland. As one would expect, the focal point of St. Andrew's Day in Scotland is the city of St. Andrews in Fife, which is about an hour north of Edinburgh.

For the entire "St. Andrew's Week," one can see the culture and experience the cuisine by attending traditional music concerts, special church services, porridge-making contests, piping contests and ceilidhs, watching fireworks, and visiting places that are not normally open to the public, like the private areas of the famous Royal and Ancient Golf Course, and the Masonic Lodge.

A Ceilidh (pronounced "Kay-lay", emphasis on 1st syllable) is many things. It derives from the Gaelic word meaning a visit; it can also mean a house party, a concert or more usually an evening of informal Scottish traditional dancing to informal music. Ceilidhs in the Lowlands tend to be dances like the one in the video; in the Highlands they tend to be concerts.

Many schools in Scotland will have a special assembly focusing on St. Andrew’s patron saint and Scotland. While there will be special events held at landmarks like the Edinburgh Castle, and friends gathering for ceilidhs, haggis suppers, general whisky drinking, or other celebrations of Scottish heritage.

Here's a calendar of events for St. Andrew's Day for 2010.

St. Andrew's Day Poll

Will you be celebrating St. Andrew's Day?

See results

Wrapping up...

In closing, Favorite Traditions of St. Andrew’s Day there appears to be celebrations that will be occurring around the world however, with this national holiday still a few months away you might want to check back for updates to this hub on favorite traditions of St. Andrew's Day, as well as the links that I am providing. Today, social media can be a way for individuals to interact and share ideas with others that celebrate St Andrew’s Day this link on Facebook can be a good place to start.

I hope you have found the information that I’ve provided to be useful. It is my intentions as this holiday gets closer to add more fun info about this celebration. My researched revealed that the St. Andrew’s Day celebration is still rather new and it is growing larger each year so I’m sure the celebration of 2010 will have more to offer. As always comments are welcomed; and if you have celebrated St. Andrew’s Day before please share your experiences.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Hiya Erin,Give Emily a pat on the back for taking on viola. It is, of curose, an utterly selfless gesture that follows a great tradition;-) I knew I wanted to study abroad when I was applying for school and made sure that my college had some good programs. It's generally a good to make sure your advisor knows if you want to go abroad and for how long, and start investigating summer/fall of sophomore year. Let's see, general advice don't get so crazy about college that you forget to enjoy your senior year. Apply everywhere you want to go regardless of whether you think you can get in (college admission is a bit random). Follow your gut when you choose a school, and remember it doesn't really matter where you go, rather what you make of it. And wear nice but comfortable shoes to graduation really high stylish heels look nice but can lead to epic wipe outs I'd love to hear your album when you're all done! Are you going to put it online by chance?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      hey I liked all of the information considereing I have a big exam coming up soon all about St Andrews so thank you so much for the information and my eexam is in my colledge of Camebridge! :)

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Hi Michael, It is interesting how emphasis can be placed on a holiday by people living in different locations. I think it has a lot to do with ones family traditions for that holiday. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

    • michael ely profile image

      michael ely 

      8 years ago from Scotland

      Hi Money Glitch, I am Scottish and just by coincidence came across this hub the day after St. Andrews Day. It was interesting as i also knew very little of him. There is no real celebration of him or holiday day for him here, although maybe in different parts of Scotland there will be. I imagine it's probably still celebrated more by Scots not living in Scotland. Enjoyable hub. Look forward to reading more from you. Cheers. Michael.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      You are welcome Tony! I didn't know anything about St. Andrew prior to doing research, needless to say, I'm looking forward to the celebration in November. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      I enjoyed this Hub and learned some new things from it. Thanks very much for adding to my knowledge of my Scots heritage!

      Love and peace


    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Hi Cheeky Girl - Thanks so much for the kind comments. Finally got my graduate degree last year, and I'm aspiring to be a good writer. Glad to hear that you think, I'm on the right pathway to succeeding. :)

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 

      8 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      What a great Hub! You are a mine of information, my friend. I thoroughly enjoyed the history. You are a really great writer! Terrific Hub!

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Hi Barry, Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 

      8 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Well done beautifully set out ! :)

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Hi Teresa, I too have learned a lot about St. Andrew's story. I'm glad that you've enjoyed reading his story. Thanks my friend for your kind words. :)

    • Teresa Laurente profile image

      Maria Teresa Rodriguez - Laurente 

      8 years ago from San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.

      This is a very beautiful detailed story of St. Andrew. Wow! I have not known so much of him until now. Thank you for sharing this. I really do appreciate it. More power to my friend Money Glitch.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @WE5 - Wow, what a compliment WE5! As a matter of fact one of my dreams is to be able to travel, learn about the culture of places, and write about it. Just haven't figured out how to make it happen yet. Thanks for your kind comments based on your personal experience. :)

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @PDH - LOL! I think I will give this one a try as well. The key to the shoe toss is to practice early; so that you can learn to throw it just right. Hehehe! Love your comments that for stopping by for a read, my friend. :)

    • WE5 profile image


      8 years ago

      Great hub MG! I've worked with a lot of Scots over the years in the shipbuilding and offshore business so I have some knowledge of what you've written, but this is a very concise & interesting account of some of the traditions of the country. do you or have you considered writing for travel magazines? you should!

    • prettydarkhorse profile image


      8 years ago from US

      I'll do that on the 29th of November hehe, HMM I will ask St Andrew for a husband, I hope the shoes will follow through. I like a dying millionaire hehe, I remember your poem Money and that's a nice poem -- cant remember the title but it is about love. Great hub again and thumbs up! Maita

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Thanks Ethel & Pamela for stopping by for a read and commenting. :)

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Very good hub.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Well rounded hub

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Oooh, thanks Billy for the tip! I intend to update this hub when the celebration time is closer. I will definitely have to include the spider. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

    • billyaustindillon profile image


      8 years ago

      Very interesting hub and a great tribute to the great Saint Andrew - there is a St Andrew's spider also which has the St Andrews cross on it back.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Thanks anglnwu, I really like it when I can find some fun stories like the thistle and the shoe throwing it just shows how different traditions get started and carry on. Thanks for the thumbs up, the read, and commenting. :)

    • anglnwu profile image


      8 years ago

      I can tell you have done a great deal of research on this one. Lots of interesting details and enjoyed the bits about the thistle and the shoe throwing to determine marital possibilities. Great job and rated it up.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Awesome drbj, Scotland is definitely a place I want to visit one day soon. There is a possibility that I have relatives there however, I have not had a chance to verify this yet. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      Thanks, Money Glitch, for this interesting hub. I learned a lot about St. Andrew I didn't know.

      I had the good fortune to visit four cities in Scotland last year and loved every moment of my trip.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Thanks so much for stopping by my friend. I guess perhaps this one will be one that will become more popular when it gets closer to the day of celebration. :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I liked your Favorite Traditions of St. Andrew's Day hub but as I am from Ireland I won't be celebrating it, we celebrate St Patricks day, another great hub, rated up !


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