Today is the feast of St. Andrew, apostle, and martyr.
St. Andrew was St. Peter's brother. St. Andrew actually heard of Jesus first and took his brother to meet him. What a wonderful example of the importance of Godly siblings in our lives and the positive influence they can have on us!
After Jesus ascended into heaven, the apostles scattered all over the known world to spread the Gospel message. Andrew went to Greece where he was eventually martyred. Andrew felt that he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as our Lord, so his cross was set up diagonally like a big X. This type of cross is called "St. Andrew's Cross." (Andrew's brother Peter also felt unworthy to be baptized as Jesus was and was consequently crucified upside down.)
Interestingly, when the power struggles between Rome and Constantinople were going on, a bit of lore surfaced that Andrew had actually found the church in Constantinople! If that had been true it would have given some credence to the idea that Rome and Constantinople were equal in power, but this story seems to be sketchy.
St. Andrew is to the Scottish what St. Patrick is to the Irish, although as far as we know, the saint never set a foot on the isle! There are two legends explaining this. The first is that St. Regulus had a dream that was to move the remains of St. Andrew to the far corners of the world for safe keeping. Apparently he only got as far as the eastern shore of Scotland before he shipwrecked, and the stop where he came ashore is today's St. Andrew's.
The other legend is that the Bishop of Hexham:
"who was a reknown collector of relics, brought the relics of St. Andrew to St. Andrews in 733. There certainly seems to have been a religious centre at St. Andrews at that time, either founded by St. Rule in the 6th century or by a Pictish King, Ungus, who reigned from 731 - 761."
The Feast of St. Andrew sets the beginning of Advent! The first Sunday of Advent is always the Sunday closest to this feast day! It's a great time to say the Christmas Novena!
(It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (30th November) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.
+MICHAEL AUGUSTINE, Archbishop of New York
New York, February 6, 1897
St. Andrew was the patron of fisherman (so a fish dinner to celebrate would certainly be appropriate!) and unmarried women. (There were a few neat traditions associated with that. Apparently if an unmarried woman throws her shoe at the door on St. Andrew's day, if the toe points outward, the woman will be married and out of the house within a year!
For more links and info, see below!
St. Andrew Catholics Online.
Catholic Culture - St. Andrew
St. Andrew's Christmas Prayer
traditional bannocks recipes from scotland biscuits cakes and sweets
Baking for Britain Blog.
What are Bannocks?
Tea Time with Scones and Bannocks.
More info on St. Andrew from St. Ann's Helper
St. Andrew's Connection to Scotland!
Coloring pages of Scotland!
Some info on St. Andrew and some fun Scottish customs.
Scottish Short Bread