Tag Archives: St. Andrew’s Day

A Scottish Photo Feast for St. Andrew’s Day

I’m just returned from a long trip to Scotland, during which I took hundreds of photographs, and today marks the feast of the Scottish patron Saint Andrew, so that’s the post! I promise more substantive essays in the future, but I have re-entered at the busiest time of the semester and my Salem’s Centuries manuscript is due in just over a month, so these photos will have to suffice for now. We spent most of our time in Edinburgh, but also covered a wide swath of south central Scotland, including Glasgow, Oban and Fort William in the west, and St. Andrews in the east. I spent my junior year abroad at that city’s university, and while I’ve been back several times since, it’s always great to go back. I really explored Edinburgh on this trip, both Old Town and New and some adjoining neighborhoods, so it was hard to pick my favorite photos of the capital, but I think I’ll favor the light. All the cities and towns we visited were aglow with Christmas trim, and every other day the sun bathed the land-and street-scapes for several intermittent hours: with moody mornings and darkness descending at 4pm, the light is very precious.

In Edinburgh:

Interior shots are of two National Trust properties: Gladstone’s Land in the Old Town and the Georgian House in the new. Of course the modern embellished building is the relatively new Scottish Parliament, about which I learned a lot. Christmas markets and fairs in every available green space!



Glasgow Cathedral and Council Chambers are quite something, as are the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery at Glasgow University. Charles Rennie McIntosh immersion is possible.


Western Coast from Oban to Fort William and through the Highlands:



Fife villages on the East Coast, and St. Andrews:

So, lots more to write about, including whiskey, GIN, Jacobites, McIntosh, Princes Street, old and new architecture, the power of Outlander, closes, courts and corridors, and hedgehogs, but this postcard post will have to do for now: Happy Feast of St. Andrew day!

St. Andrew’s Cross

I’ve been writing posts on various saints days over the years and yesterday I realized I had never posted about St. Andrew on his feast day, a notable omission both in general and for me, in particular, as I was fortunate to spend my junior year at St. Andrew’s University, and the town remains one of my very favorite places on earth. Though I think most people associate St. Andrew exclusively with Scotland, he is venerated widely: in much of eastern Europe, in the Caribbean and even South America. Andrew was the first Apostle, the brother of Peter, and an ardent missionary: it is said that he continued to spread the gospel during much of his crucifixion, on an x-shaped cross forever associated with his name: the saltire or St. Andrew’s Cross. Such a powerful symbol of assertion, both against a field of blue as the Scottish flag, or as the southern cross on the Confederate flag. The connotations of the former are all positive as compared with the latter, of course, and St. Andrew’s Day has been a bank holiday in Scotland since 2006.



st-andrews-the-saltire-flag Late medieval manuscript images of St. Andrew from the British and St. Andrew’s University Libraries; Juan Correa de Vivar, Crucifixion of St. Andrew, c. 1540, University of St. Andrew’s Special Collections; the saltire unfurled.

Scotland’s claim to St. Andrew has always struck me as a little convoluted, but it became official, and lasting, with the Declaration of Arbroath (1320), a letter written by the barons of Scotland to Pope John XXII asking for recognition of the country’s independence and acknowledgment of Robert the Bruce as its rightful king. Scotland’s “Declaration of Independence” incorporated the esteemed St. Andrew as part of its plea, for “The high qualities and deserts of these people, were they not otherwise manifest, gain glory enough from this: that the King of kings and Lord of lords, our Lord Jesus Christ, after his Passion and Resurrection, called them, even though settled in the uttermost parts of the earth, almost the first to His most holy faith. Nor would He have them confirmed in that faith by merely anyone but by the first of His Apostles – by calling, though second or third rank – the most gentle Saint Andrew, the Blessed Peter’s brother, and desired him to keep them under his protection as their patron for ever.”  Another very powerful assertion, as St. Andrew certainly outranked the emerging patron saint George of Scotland’s perennial enemy, England. Combined with a classical origins story, language, literature, Presbyterianism, the “auld alliance” with France, and myriad other claims and customs, St. Andrew helped Scotland preserve a very distinct national identity even after it became part of Great Britain. And then, in that golden age of romantic nationalism that was the nineteenth century, the Saint and his cross seem to be emblazoned on all forms of material culture associated with Scotland, transforming him into a more secular patron and ensuring his survival into the modern age.





The symbolic British Empire in glass, c. 1840: stained glass panels by C.E. Gwilt representing St. Andrew of Scotland, St. Patrick of Ireland, and St. George of England; a Minton tile, c. 1875; Walter Crane’s “National” wallpaper, 1890s, all collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum; St. Andrew’s Day 2013 in Edinburgh.

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