St Andrew’s death inspired the Scottish flag - the Saltire (image: Shutterstock)
The day is marked with a public holiday and often sees the country celebrate its culture and history.
But the reason why St Andrew became Scotland’s patron saint is not widely known.
So who was he, what is his connection to the Scottish flag - and when do we celebrate him?
Here’s what you need to know.
When is St Andrew’s Day 2021?
St Andrew’s Day 2021 takes place on Tuesday 30 November.
It takes place on the same date each year.
St Andrew has been the patron saint of Scotland since 1320, although feasts have been held in his honour since at least 1000 AD.
Who was St Andrew?
Not much is actually known about who St Andrew was.
It’s believed he was born in what is now Israel between 5 and 10AD.
According to Christianity, he was a fisherman before becoming one of Jesus’s 12 disciples.
At some point after Jesus’s death, St Andrew himself met a grisly end.
The Romans sentenced him to death by crucifixion in Greece.
But he is believed to have asked to be crucified on a diagonal cross because he felt he wasn’t worthy to die on the same shaped cross as Jesus.
How did St Andrew become Scotland’s patron saint?
Again, the passage of time has obscured the reason why St Andrew was chosen to be the patron saint of Scotland.
But we do know that the manner of his crucifixion inspired the country’s flag - the Saltire.
The first time the diagonal cross appeared on a flag was thought to have been at the battle of Athelstaneford in East Lothian in 832AD.
Pictish king, Angus mac Fergus, was said to have seen a Saltire appear in the sky immediately before his victory.
It then made its first official appearance as a symbol of Scotland when it was used to authenticate legal documents and communiques in 1286.
By 1390, during the reign of King Robert III, St Andrew was starting to appear on coins.
Although he’s the patron saint of Scotland, St Andrew is likely to have never set foot in the country.
Despite this, some have claimed in the past that the town of St Andrews was his final resting place.
Another story has it that relics of the saint were brought to the kingdom of Fife from Greece in the fourth century by St Regulus, after he was shipwrecked off the coast.
He isn’t only the patron saint of Scotland.
He also fulfils the role for Romania, Greece, Russia, Ukraine and Poland.
What happens on St Andrew’s Day?
St Andrew’s Day is a public holiday in Scotland.
Unlike in the other UK nations, bank holidays are not legal requirements in Scotland, so not everyone gets the day off.
The day often has public events celebrating Scottish culture, usually involving food and drink, music and ceilidh dancing.
Traditional food consumed on the day can include the soup dish cullen skink, which is made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions, and clootie dumpling and custard - a dessert made of dried fruit, spices, oatmeal or breadcrumbs, flour, and beef suet.
The word ‘clootie’ means ‘cloth’ and describes what the dumpling was traditionally boiled in.
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