St. Andrew’s Day – 30th November

November 28, 2013 by The Co-op Observer st.andrews day

Monday 30th November will be St Andrew’s Day, a bank holiday in Scotland since 2006, and a day of toasts and celebrations wherever members of the Scottish diaspora have gathered. It marks the start of the Winter Festival that spans the two months from St Andrew’s Day to that other classic celebration – Burn’s Day.

St Andrew himself is unlikely to have ever set foot on Scottish soil. A disciple of Jesus and brother of St Peter, Andrew is patron saint of several other countries too, including Romania, Greece and Russia, even Barbados.

So what is his connection with Scotland? Well, hundreds of years after his death, a later saint, St Rule set off to spread the relics of St Andrew across the world. On his travels he landed in a Fife village that grew into the modern day jewel of the east coast that is St Andrews. Some of the saint’s relics now reside at St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral in Edinburgh, giving it a link with churches in Amalfi, Italy, and Patras in Greece that hold other relics.

What should we eat on St Andrew’s Day? It’s now a national holiday in Scotland and a day for feasting in honour of the saint. Typical dishes for a great meal on Monday may include the delicious cullen skink, a creamy soup of leeks, potatoes and smoked haddock. Main course is likely to be roast lamb, with potatoes and onions. Ideally find the excuse to eat an Abroath Smokie too. This legendary haddock is smoked over a fire of oak and beech chips in a whiskey barrel and is at its best eaten warm, straight from the smoker.

Toasts: Of course you can toast, raising your glass with whatever it may contain, but a dram of whiskey, let out with just a drop of spring water takes some beating. Toasts may be longer than you’d expect, often involving the toastmaster reciting patriotic poetry such as Jean Blewett’s “St Andrew’s Day. A Toast”. From 27th November there’s a good drinks deal at your local Co-operative, you can buy Famous Grouse and Bells at just £12 a bottle, and for something a little more adventurous try the rather excellent medal winning Co-operative branded Highland Single Malt.

St Andrew met an uncomfortable death, crucified on a transversed cross by the Romans, giving us the direct link to the St Andrew’s Cross. The saltaire, the diagonal cross of the Scottish flag was first mentioned way back in 1385 when King Robert the second ordered that every Scottish soldier wear a white saltaire.

Whether you’re a Scot at home, or abroad, or just love the country for its beauty and culture, join with us on Monday 30th November and raise a glass to St Andrew.

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