November 30 marks the feast day of Saint Andrew, patron saint of Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, San Andres Island, Colombia and Saint Andrew, Barbados.
St. Andrew’s Day is also officially Scotland’s national day. In the home of golf, St. Andrew’s Day kicks off the Scottish winter festival season, and is celebrated with traditional food, music and dance, such as the ceilidh. The ceilidh is consists of couples dancing in circles, or sets — groups of groups of six or eight people.
Andrew was one of Jesus’ Apostles, and like his brother, Simon Peter, a fisherman. The Gospels of Matthew and Mark tell of the brothers’ call to become “fishers of men.” Andrew is not named in the Gospel of Luke, and in the Gospel of John, Andrew appears initially as a disciple of John the Baptist. In any case, Andrew is recorded as having been present at the miracle of the loaves and fishes, and at the Last Supper. Tradition says that he was martyred on an X-Shaped cross, known as a saltire. The saltire is now known as a St. Andrew’s Cross, and is the heraldry on the flag of Scotland.
The town of St. Andrews is named after Saint Andrew. In addition to being the home of golf, St. Andrews has been an important religious center since at least the 700s. The University of St. Andrews is the third oldest in the English speaking world.