St Andrew’s Day 2021: when is day of Scotland’s patron saint, how is it celebrated, key facts, and who was he?

The Scottish flag, known as the Saltire, replicates the cross Saint Andrew died on in 60 AD

Saint Andrew’s Day is marked in Scotland and by Scots around the world as the country’s national day.

The feast day celebrates Scottish culture and heritage, and is a national holiday in Scotland.

Sign up to our NationalWorld Today newsletter

But how is it celebrated, and what’s the history behind the day? This is what you need to know.

When is Saint Andrew’s Day?

Saint Andrew’s Day falls on 30 November each year.

It is believed that Scotland’s patron saint was crucified on this date in AD 60.

How is St Andrew’s Day celebrated?

In Scotland, the national culture, music and food is celebrated on 30 November, with dinners and ceilidhs held around the country, as well as masses celebrating the saint.

People may cook traditional Scottish dishes such as neeps (turnip or swede) and tatties (potatoes), as well as haggis, Cullen Skink and Cranachan.

Those who are feeling particularly patriotic may also wear their best tartan as a celebration of all things native to Scotland.

On St Andrew’s Day, the Scottish flag flies on Scottish Government buildings with a flagpole.

Before 2002, the Scottish Government followed UK flag rules, flying the Saltire on St Andrew’s Day only.

Once the regulations were updated, it was mandated that the Union Flag would be removed and replaced by the Saltire on buildings with only one flagpole.

The Union Flag still flies at Edinburgh Castle on St Andrew’s Day as it’s an official flag flying station for the British Army.

Is St Andrew’s Day a bank holiday?

It’s also a national day off in Scotland after the Scottish Parliament declared St Andrew’s Day a bank holiday in 2007.

If 30 November falls on a weekend, the next Monday is a bank holiday instead.

While officially St Andrew’s Day is a bank holiday, banks aren’t required to close and employers are not required to give employees the day off as a holiday.

The University of St Andrews is known for giving the day off to students, but this isn’t a rule.

Who was Saint Andrew?

A fisherman from Galilee, Israel, Saint Andrew was one of Jesus’ 12 apostles, according to the Bible’s New Testament.

Jesus and his twelve apostles at his last supper (Picture: Worldatlas.org)

He was called by Jesus to be one of his ‘fishers of men’ and gave up his life as a fisherman to follow Jesus and preach about his work.

He is mentioned several times in the presence of Jesus in the new testament and is considered one of the most important disciples of Christ, along with his brother, Saint Peter (Simon Peter).

Saint Andrew was at the Last Supper and also on the Mount of Olives where he asked Jesus about the signs of Jesus’ return at the "end of the age".

It is thought he then devoted the rest of his life to travelling on his boat, preaching in various countries about the work of Jesus.

He was killed by the Romans in 60 AD, for preaching about Jesus.

He refused to be executed on the same shape of cross as Jesus as he did not feel worthy, and was instead put to death on a diagonal cross, which is what inspired Scotland’s national flag, the Saltire.

Scotch haggis and pipers at the Savoy Hotel on the feast day of St Andrew in 1922 (Picture: Getty)

Why is he the patron saint of Scotland?

Relics of Saint Andrew were thought to have been brought to Scotland by Saint Regulus, a Patras monk, to the place now recognised as St Andrews, Fife.

It is said that Regulus received a message from God in his dreams, telling him to take some of Andrew’s remains to ‘the end of the earth’ and wherever he was shipwrecked he would bury them.

Regulus was stranded on the coast of Fife with the kneecap, an upper arm bone, three fingers and a tooth of Saint Andrew, but they are not there today.

The patronage of St Andrew then took place when Oengus II (King Angus) - a Scottish king of the picts in 832 AD - prayed to Saint Andrew to help his men succeed in battle and in return, he would make him the patron saint.

Legend has it that on the morning of the battle, the Saltire appeared in a cloud formation about the battle ground and, despite being outnumbered in men, the Picts won.

Angus believed this was due to Saint Andrew’s divine intervention and honoured his pre-battle pledge.

The Scottish flag - a white Saltire on a royal blue background - is thought to symbolise the shape of Saint Andrew’s diagonal crucifix in white clouds against the sky.

In the Declaration of Arbroath of1320, Scottish noblemen wrote to the Pope to ask for Scottish independence from England - claiming conversion back to Christianity through Saint Andrew.

He became the official patron saint of Scotland that year.