Happy St Andrews Day

Today, November 30, was Scotland’s national holiday, a recognition of their patron saint, Andrew. My Scottish blood rejoices in opportunities to celebrate my ancestral home. Far from the beauty of that amazing place, I found ways to incorporate Scottish traditions into my day. 

According to historical accounts, about 800 AD King Angus of the Picts, facing a larger army of Saxons at Athelstaneford in what is now East Lothian in Scotland, was overwhelmed by a blinding light the night before the battle. During the night, he had a dream. The message he was given was that he would see a cross in the sky and he would conquer his enemies in its name.

The following morning King Angus looked into the blue sky at sunrise and saw white clouds forming the Saltire Cross. This filled him and his men with great confidence and they were victorious. Saint Andrew and his Saltire Cross were adopted as the national symbols for an emerging Scotland.

Across Scotland today there was feasting, poetry readings and whiskey drinking to commemorate the day. I created my own special holiday that began with hanging my Saltire proudly from my front deck. I wore my SCOTLAND hoodie that I purchased in Edinburgh in 2014, which was very welcome on this chilly day. And I read through the poem “Hame”, by Scottish poet Mary Symon. 

See part of Hame printed HERE on some of Scotland’s national monuments. 

While in the car this afternoon I enjoyed songs by Red Hot Chilli Pipers, accompanied, of course, by the haunting wail of bagpipes. Hearing bagpipes instantly transported me back to the Highlands, where I stood with tears in my eyes, listening to the Lone Piper. 

In Scotland, celebrators dined on traditional fare such as haggis, neeps and tatties, leek and haddock soup, and roast lamb. I am determined to eat Scottish food, with a healthy twist, by Burns Night on January 25. To that end I looked up recipes, and found them, for vegan haggis, tattie scones and leek and potato soup. I’m excited to create new dishes that honor traditional Scottish food while also honoring my decision to eat in a healthy way. 

Tonight I did dine on tatties, roasting my potato wedges in the oven with spices. I enjoyed an after dinner tea, rather than an afternoon one. I brewed a cup of Scottish Heather Tea, pouring it into a fine china cup adorned with Scotland’s national flower, the thistle. This cup and saucer once belonged to Greg’s mother. 

Sliced apples took the place of shortbread cookies. And I tried a fresh persimmon as a special treat. Missouri persimmons are small and very bitter until they are extremely ripe. I bought this California persimmon at my local health food store. Much larger in size, it was sweet and juicy, and perfect paired with apples. 

I am returning to Scotland next fall, after a summer trip to Italy with my grandson and daughter. I’m excited about both trips, for different reasons. Scotland will always feel like a homecoming, a return to the land of my heart. When I travel there next September, it will be in the company of my mother, sisters and niece. What memories we will create. 

Until then, I will celebrate my heritage and my beloved Scotland here in Joplin, as often as I can.