Many people only know St. Andrew as being connected to Scotland, but…
Saint Andrew is the patron saint in many other countries too…
Known in Scottish Gaelic as Là Naomh Anndrais, Andrew is the patron saint of:
Romania, Cyprus, Greece (City of Patras), Russia, Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, San Andres Island (Columbia), and Barbados.
Many of the countries which have connections with Scotland and Saint Andrew’s Day, celebrate with the same traditional Scottish food and music.
The day is also associated with the coming of the season of winter which includes Scottish festivals such as Burns Night and Hogmanay. In the town of Saint Andrews for example, these can last up to a week.
The Scottish Flag – the “Saltire”, is the official flag and will be flown at the top of every building with a flagpole on this day representing the Cross of Saint Andrew.
On the Eve of Saint Andrew
In some areas of Austria, Germany, Poland, Romania, Russia and Slovakia, there is a superstitious belief that the night before Saint Andrew’s Day (Saint Andrew’s Eve) is a magical time, where young people currently unknown to each other can be mystically bound together with the person they are going to marry. This time is also thought to be the most active time for vampires appearing. This period can last up to the time of Saint George’s Day (23rd April).
The feast of Andrew the Apostle
… is celebrated on 30th November. Saint Andrew was the brother of Peter, the two brothers were disciples of Jesus.
Saint Andrew’s Day is often seen as the beginning of Advent, which leads up to Christmas.
Celebrating Andrew in different countries
There are some Romanian, pre-Christian traditions which are connected to Saint Andrew’s Day. Some of these relate to the Roman celebrations to the god, Saturn.
As explained by the fascinating wolfofromania on Tumblr:-
“The Dacian New Year took place from 14 November until 7 December; this was considered the interval when time began its course. One of the elements that came from the Roman and Thracian celebrations concerned wolves. During this night, wolves are allowed to eat all the animals they want. It is said that they can speak, too, but anyone who hears them will soon die. Early on Saint Andrew’s day, the mothers go into the garden and gather tree branches, especially from apple, pear and cherry trees, and rosebush branches. They make a bunch of branches for each family member. The one whose bunch blooms by New Year’s Day will be lucky and healthy the next year. The best known tradition connected to this night concerns matrimony and premonitory dreams. Single girls must put under their pillow a sprig or branch of sweet basil. If someone takes the plants in their dreams, that means the girl will marry soon. They can also plant wheat in a dish and water it until New Year’s Day. The nicer the wheat looks that day, the better the year to come.”
Another Romanian tradition suggests that young women should put exactly 41 grains of wheat beneath their pillows at night before going to sleep. If they happen to dream that someone is going to steal the wheat, it means that they will marry within the year.
In other parts of Romania, young women bring a lighted Easter candle and take it to a fountain at midnight where they ask Saint Andrew to let them glance at their husband to be.
As a patron of Romania and its Orthodox Church, Saint Andrew guards against the wolves who are thought to be able to eat any animal they choose on this night and who may decide to speak to a human. If a human hears a wolf speak to them, they will die.
The Polish holiday “Andrzejki” is celebrated from the night of the 29th and through to the 30th November.
Today, both young men and women join in the celebrations in order to see what their future holds (originally only young single girls were included in the celebrations).
The “ceremony” involves pouring hot wax from a candle through the hole in a key into cold water. Later they will look into the water and (if they’re lucky) see the face of their future partner.
In northern Portugal, there is an ancient fishing town called Póvoa de Varsim where you can find Cape Santo André. Close to the cape itself mysterious depressions can be seen in a stone, and many believe these to be the actual footprints of Saint Andrew. More recently there is a chapel named after the saint, which is mentioned in documents dating back to 1546.
There is a burial site of drowned fishermen at the cape and the story goes…
That fishermen asked for guidance from Saint Andrew so that they would get bigger and better catches. On Saint Andrew’s Eve, fishermen make pilgrimages to the cape’s chapel, and can be seen walking across the beach holding lights. They believe that Saint Andrew fished from these same waters, those who make a pilgrimage to the site are guaranteed a place in Heaven with the saint, should they be drowned at sea, those who failed to make the pilgrimage while alive, are doomed to haunt the coast, until their soul makes a posthumous pilgrimage to the little chapel.
The National Day of Independence in Barbados is celebrated on Saint Andrew’s Day. As Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Barbados, many Barbadian symbols include St. Andrew’s X shaped cross.
Liz Bovill, in conjunction with Ian Davison, a well known face on the Glasgow folk music scene, wrote this wonderful song For St. Andrew’s Day. Written in a Scots dialect, it’s a fascinating synopsis of some of the history and legends surrounding the saint. We’re only sorry that we can’t source the music.
Andrew is oor patron saint, as Scotland ay remembers.
His flags’ll fly here every year, on the 30th o’ November.
Andrew wis a fisherman. His faither wis the same there.
His brither was Saint Peter, an’ they left when Jesus came there.
Andrew wis the first disciple (Got the loaves an’ fishes).
He learned the truths fae Jesus, an’ carried oot his wishes.
He brought the Guid News later oan, tae Russia an’ tae Poland,
an’ Turkey, Hungary an’ Greece. An’ intae many more lands.
Finally, in Southern Greece, he preached the Truth that frees us.
They hanged him, an’ he chose a cross, that’s no’ the cross o’ Jesus.
Efter years, his bones were sent tae be kept in Istanbul, then.
An’ later, some were moved tae Fife, by a bishop, or St Rule, then.
They built the saint a chapel there, an ‘ then a Cathedral came,
An’ then a host of pilgrims (An’ St Andrew’s wis its name.)
They tell the tale o’ Andrew’s cross: it helped the Scots in battle,Liz Bovill and Ian Davison. Mentioned on https://stmungomusic.org.uk/st-andrews-day-song/
Appearin’ high across the sky, above the broadswords’ rattle.
A belated Happy St. Andrew’s Day.