St Andrew's Day

Various events, Glasgow & Edinburgh


Andrew was not Scottish, and what we know of his life comes from religious texts. Born a Jew in Bethsaida, Galilee, he and his brother Simon Peter were fishermen, and when Jesus came calling, he became one of his first (and closest) disciples. After JC’s death the tale becomes hazy, with the traditional story being that he proselytised in what is now southern Greece, and was crucified on an X-shaped cross to which he gives his name. It’s the motif for Scotland’s flag, of course.

Legend says his relics were moved to Constantinople, followed in the early Middle Ages by the removal of several bones by St Regulus, who, inspired by a visionary dream, spirited them away to the ‘ends of the earth’ - namely Fife, where he was shipwrecked by what became St Andrews. It’s not the only story, but all versions show that national pride shouldn’t be conflated with notions of racial or cultural ‘purity’.

On this theme, the Scottish Executive’s One Scotland campaign is lavishing St Andrew’s Day ceilidhs on our two big cities. The One Scotland Ceilidh takes place on Edinburgh’s Lawnmarket, and musicians Shooglenifty, Dochas, Moishe’s Bagel, Watergaw and the Maverick Angels star. Glasgow’s version goes one better, as the One Scotland Ceilidh on Ice wobbles onto the George Square skating rink, with music from the Reel Thing, Last Tram to Aushenshuggle, Samba Y Bamba, Punjabi No 1, Right 2 Dance and Amy McDonald.

In addition, Edinburgh Castle throws open its doors for free and celebrates the tenth anniversary of the return of the Stone of Destiny, while a major exhibition of Peter Howson’s paintings of the anointed one, Andrew - Portrait of a Saint, opens at the City Art Centre in the capital. Somewhat confusingly, the previous Saturday sees a St Andrew’s Day Rally led by the Stockbridge Pipe Band from Market Street to Festival Square, and a Post-Rally Gathering in Leith, with tunes from Fiery Jack and Gaberlunzie.

St Andrew’s Day is Thu 30 Nov. See listings for details of each event.

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