On November 30th, Scotland celebrates its National Day and the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, the first disciple of Jesus, and its official patron since the signing on April 6th, 1320 of the Declaration of Arbroath, seen by many as the founding document of the Scottish nation.
In Scots, a West Germanic language variety spoken in Scotland and in Ulster, one of the four traditional provinces in the north of Ireland, it’s called Saunt Andra’s Day and in Scottish Gaelic Là Naomh Anndrais.
The celebration is thought to originate from the reign of Malcolm III (1034–1093), who achieved a line of lineage that included the kings who would liberate Scotland from Scandinavian influence.
Probably the ritual slaughter of animals associated with Samhain, a pagan festival about a month earlier, marking the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter, was moved to this date to assure enough beasts were kept alive.
The Scottish Parliament, established on July 1st, 1999, passed an act which designated November 30th as an official bank holiday as recent as 2006. Nevertheless, banks are not required to close and employers don’t need to give their employees the day off.
Founded in 1413, the University of St Andrews is one of the four ancient universities of Scotland and the third-oldest university in the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world.
At this time-honored institution, located in the homonymous town on the east coast between Dundee and Edinburgh, traditionally all students enjoy a day with no classes, but this is not a binding rule.
However, in 2002 it was decided that the Union Jack be removed and replaced by the Saltire or Saint Andrew’s Cross on all official buildings in Scotland with only one flagpole.
Edinburgh Castle, a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the Scottish capital, and also an official British Army flying station, can be considered an exception.
The happy occasion marks the start of a season of winter festivals like Hogmanay, the Scots word for the last day of the year, and Burns Night or Nicht to commemorate the life and poetry of Robert Burns (1759-1796) on or near his birthday on January 25th.
On Saint Andrew’s Day many cèilidh or céilí are hold, traditional social gatherings with bagpipe music and dancing, either at a house party or a public place.
Traditional Scottish dishes offered include haggis with neeps and tatties (sheep’s pluck with swede or turnip and potatoes), cullen skink (thick soup with smoked haddock, milk, onions and potatoes), black pudding (pork blood sausage with beef suet and a cereal), fish supper (haddock deep fried in batter with chips), Kedgeree (porridge with flaked fish and curried rice) and Cranachan (raspberries, oats, cream, whisky and honey).