Ian Marland: Scots Should Take Pride In St. Andrew's Day





The majority of Scots are likely to go about their business today without a thought for the significance of the date, and without any plans to note either its arrival or passing.
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There are signs Scotland is slowly waking up to the benefits of celebrating St Andrew, if not with an official holiday, then with cultural and social festivities which set the day apart from any other.
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So this year, the Executive hosts festivities in Edinburgh for the first time: a One Scotland Ceilidh playing at an open air stage and an indoor venue in the capital.

And across the world the Executive is supporting 41 St Andrew's Day events, with celebrations taking place as far afield as Australia, the US, Russia and Japan.

The First Minister, Jack McConnell, yesterday circulated a St Andrew's Day message to embassies and consulates around the world raising awareness of what he said were Scotland's achievements.

But academics, politicians and religious leaders said Scotland had a long way to go before it fully embraced the potential of the occasion - and urged the country to go further.

Professor Tom Devine, at the centre for Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Aberdeen, said Scotland should be learning the lessons of the Irish over the last quarter of a century. "It is no accident that the Irish have raised their national profile above those of their neighbours. That they have raised their profile in such a way, through tremendous marketing guile, has been a major factor in the rise of the Celtic Tiger economy.

"The Irish story is an amazing one. It is a hard one to quantify in terms of Irish punts, but their celebration and marketing of St Patrick's Day has been a huge factor in the Irish economic miracle."
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St Andrew was a fisherman in Capernaum, Israel. He became an apostle of Christ and was crucified in 60AD.

The cross on which he was bound (not nailed) was x-shaped - hence the x -shaped cross on Scotland's flag.
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St Andrew's Day is popular among Scots abroad. This year the Royal Gurkha Rifles will entertain Scots in Kuala Lumpur, whisky will be shared at the Renaissance Hotel in Moscow and there will be skiing plus haggis in Aspen, Colorado.

St Andrew is also patron saint of Greece, Russia, Amalfi in Italy, fishermen, gout, singers, spinsters and sore throats.

In Russia, St Andrew's Day was popular before the 1917 revolution and is mentioned in Dr Zhivago. It was banned as a religious holiday but parties with borsch and vodka are making a comeback.

[Editor's Note: This is a short excerpt from a much longer piece. Please see The Scotsman for more.]
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