As you may know, St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland and here in
Scotland ---and in British embassies and societies and around the
globe--- St Andrew's Day (November 30th) is celebrated in a traditional
fashion with the flying of the Saltire (the flag of Scotland, which
features a white cross on a blue background), ceilidh-dancing and live
St Andrew was reputedly a fisherman in Galilee before he became an
apostle of Jesus Christ and champion of the Christian faith. Along with
his younger brother, St Peter, he devoted his later life to spreading
Christ's message. How did he come to be the patron saint of Scotland?
There are a number of stories, but one legend has it that an angel
appeared to a Greek monk named St Rule (aka St Regulus) in a dream and
directed him to take the remains of St Andrew to the "ends of the
earth". It was a long journey from Constantinople but St Rule eventually
made it to Fife, which was deemed far enough, and he founded the
settlement we now know as Saint Andrews.
This and other stories explain the link between St Andrew and Scotland ,
but in Germany,
Austria and Poland rather more mysterious and romantic traditions
surround the eve of St Andrew's Day.
On what is celebrated in Germany as Andreasnacht (St Andrew's night), a
girl is said to be able to divine and attract her future husband through
various magical rituals. It's said that a single woman who wishes to
marry should ask for the aid of St Andrew, or, in Austria, perform the
spell of the St Andrew's prayer, Andreasgebet. She should then sleep
naked and she will see her future husband in her dreams! Other such
customs include listening for the barking of dogs (this will tell you
the direction the groom-to-be will come from); floating cups in a tub
(whose will float next to whose?); pouring molten metal into water to
divine the future husband's profession (depending on what shape the
metal forms); and throwing a clog over your shoulder to see whether
you'll be married that year (yes if it's pointing to the door).
However you may be celebrating, I hope your St Andrew's day brings some
cheer at the end of grey November.
Happy St Andrew's Day!