St Andrew's Day: When is St Andrew's Day? Who was Saint Andrew? How do people in Scotland celebrate?

St Andrew’s Day is a time to celebrate all things Scottish

St Andrew's Day is a day of celebration in Scotland (Getty Images)
St Andrew's Day is a day of celebration in Scotland (Getty Images)

Wave your Scotland flags and break into a ceilidh: St Andrew’s Day has arrived, and it’s a time to celebrate the best things about Scotland. It’s a day to honour Scottish food and drink, culture and history which will be marked up and down the country. But when is it, who was St Andrew? And why do we celebrate St Andrew’s Day? Here’s everything you need to know.

When is St Andrew’s Day? What is it? Is it a Bank Holiday?

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St Andrew’s Day takes place on the November 30 each year. In 2022, it falls on Wednesday, November 30. St Andrew’s Day is an official Bank Holiday in Scotland, having been declared one by Scottish Parliament in 2006. However, it is not legally binding. Schools are not required to close and employers are not required to give staff a day off.

A depiction of Saint Andrew carrying his crucifix, a symbol which became the Scottish saltire flag

Who was St Andrew? Why is he Patron Saint of Scotland?

St Andrew the Apostle is the Patron Saint of Scotland. He was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, the brother of Simon Peter and son of Jonah. A fisherman by trade, Andrew became one of Jesus’ most devoted followers, according to the Bible. He would preach about Christ’s teaching far and wide, but while in Greece was told to stop by Aegeas, a follower of the Roman Gods. When Andrew refused, he was sentenced to death in the city of Patras. The disciple was said to have been martyred by being crucified on an X shaped cross – a symbol which became known as Saint Andrew’s Cross.

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Legend has it that in AD 832 the Scots and the Picts fought a battle against the Angles in modern day Athelstaneford, East Lothian. Their leader, Óengus II was said to have vowed to appoint Andrew as the Patron Saint of Scotland should they win. On the day of the battle, legend goes that clouds formed an ‘X’ shape in the sky and – despite being seriously outnumbered – the Scottish forces prevailed. The Scottish flag – a white saltire on a sky blue background – is said to have been based on this legend.

How do Scots celebrate St Andrew’s Day?

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Though not as big a celebration as Hogmanay or Burns Night, St Andrew’s Day is an opportunity for Scottish people to celebrate their heritage, history, and culture. Whether that’s enjoying traditional Scottish food and drink –like cullen skink, haggis neeps and tatties or a wee dram of whisky – or dancing, and enjoying live Scottish music.

St Andrew’s Day events in Edinburgh 2022

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Blazin’ Fiddles is taking place at Usher Hall on November 30. There will be an “extraordinary” performance from Dougie MacLean and celebrated fiddle band, Blazin' Fiddles. In a St Andrew’s Day special, there will be soulful live music from the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

The Tolbooth Tavern in Canongate is hosting live music from folk singer Andrew Gordon to celebrate St Andrew’s Day on November 30, from 8pm. St Andrew’s Night, an epic whisky tasting, is being held at the Royal Terrace Hotel from 6pm on November 30. And a ceilidh is being held by the SNP to celebrate St Andrew’s Day at Society Hall to raise funds for indyref2.