November 30th is celebrated across Scotland as Saint Andrew’s Day and is also a national holiday in Scotland. Despite having never stepped foot in Scotland while alive, Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland as well as of Greece, Romania, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and Saint Andrew, Barbados! According to the Christian religion, Saint Andrew, whose name means ‘strong,’ was originally a Galilean fisherman and one of the first disciples of Jesus Christ. He was the brother of Saint Peter, the founder of the Christian Church and spent many years preaching the Gospel. When he died, his relics were sailed across the sea from Greece and buried in Scotland, in a town now called Saint Andrew’s. The Scottish flag is even inspired by Saint Andrew and is called the Saint Andrew’s Cross. On Saint Andrew’s Day schools across Scotland hold special events to celebrate, such as meals, singing, dances, storytelling and Scottish poetry readings. The day is often celebrated with family and friends with traditional Scottish food (like ‘haggis, neeps and tatties’ – which is a dish of haggis, turnips and potatoes) and traditional Scottish music such as the bagpipes or the clarsach (which is a small harp). People also host ceilidhs which are Scottish country dances which often go on late into the night. Saint Andrew’s Day is a significant part of Scottish culture and over the years has become a part of Scotland’s identity. Since moving to a small town in the south-west of France three months ago, I have learned that local festivals and celebrations are a huge part of local identity although they may seem strange to begin with! I would love to learn more about your local or national holidays, festivals and celebrations; how you celebrate them and what they mean to you.
Tell us about a national holiday in your country.