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. 

Journey 334: St. Andrew’s Day – Scotland’s National Day

It amazes me how new reasons to celebrate have found me this year. I didn’t discover this one until early in November, totally missing it last year. As St. Andrew’s Day is my beloved Scotland’s official National Day, I spent time researching the holiday and found ways to enter into the festivities from across the Atlantic.   

Andrew, who was one of the twelve disciples, is the patron saint of Scotland. He was revered in Scotland from around 1000 AD but didn’t become its official patron saint until the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. Andrew died a martyr, and was crucified in Greece on an ‘X’ shaped cross in 60 AD, rather than the ‘T’ shape cross that Jesus was crucified on. This type of cross is also known as a saltire, the symbol that makes up the Scottish flag.


Scottish legend has it that he was made the patron saint of Scotland after King Oengus II prayed to St. Andrew on the eve of a crucial battle against English warriors from Northumberland, around 20 miles east of Edinburgh. Heavily outnumbered, the king told St. Andrew that he would become the patron saint of Scotland if he was granted victory. On the day of the battle, clouds are said to have formed a saltire in the sky, and Oengus’s army of Picts and Scots was victorious. The Saltire flag – a white cross on a blue background – is said to have come from this divine intervention and has been used to represent Scotland since 1385. 

I didn’t know that story about the origins of the flag until today. 

I know there were many celebrations across Scotland today, of Scottish culture by way of traditional food, music and dance. My heart longed to join in those activities in my ancestral homeland. Since that wasn’t possible,  I decided to have my own observance in Joplin, MO. 


I displayed my Saltire Flag that I brought home from Scotland last year.  

I had a simple Afternoon Tea, featuring Scottish Thistle Tea from Edinburgh, Walkers’s Shortbread, and a small pecan tart. I covered my little table with my Lauder Tartan. And drank my tea from the Thistle tea cup that belonged to Greg’s mom, Leta. As the tea was brewing in the white porcelain pot, I played Scotland’s unofficial national song, Flower of Scotland. The sound of bagpipes always brings tears to my eyes. I listened, standing by the kitchen window, looking out on a gray afternoon. The weather was decidedly Scottish, cold with a heavy mist falling. It was perfect. 

As I sipped tea, and listened to Scottish music, I colored in a new coloring book. It’s based on the Outlander stories, by Diana Gabaldon, which are set in 18th century Scotland. In honor of the day, I chose to color the page with the thistle, which is Scotland’s national flower. I didn’t finish the page yet, but the thistle is completed. 

What a special day I had. I am grateful that I now know to celebrate this holiday every November 30. Scotland calls to me. I love every part of her, however the ancient city of Edinburgh, in particular, draws me. There is much for me to explore and discover there and I will return soon. In the meantime, these opportunities to celebrate my Scottish heritage are much welcomed. Happy St. Andrew’s Day.   SlĂ inte mhath! 

You can listen to Flower of Scotland Bagpipes HERE