The 30th November is the day in which we “Scots” celebrate and remember our Patron Saint; Saint Andrew. In days gone by this was a religious festival in which we took time to reflect on what Saint Andrew meant to Scotland in terms of spreading the message of Christianity across Europe. However, in modern times this has become much more of a celebration of remembering what it is to be Scottish. Having lived outside of Scotland for as many years as I have lived in Scotland I look forward to our National Day when as one voice we proudly remind the world that we are a nation in our own right and that we are proud to be Scottish. I can recall with a vivid and happy memory persuading a local florist in Eccles, Manchester to find me and a friend a couple of thistles to wear as buttonholes on November 30th and draped in whatever pieces of tartan we could find we would walk proudly through the town celebrating being Scottish in whatever manner we found appropriate; in song, dance and usually with a dram or two. Our English friends always found it amusing that we should celebrate Saint Andrew’s day, after all ask any English man who is their Patron Saint they will rarely remember let alone remember when and I’ve yet to be invited to a Saint George’s Day party. The Irish would often join in our celebration as fellow Celts who need the least of excuses to join in a party and if the atmosphere was right we were often joined by other nations who’s Patron Saint is also Saint Andrew such as our Polish, Russian and Ukrainian friends.
Having a culture and identity of our own is an important part of being Scottish. I am honoured to have friends from all over Europe and when they introduce me to their friends I am introduced as David from Scotland, this separates me from the culture of being “English” which sadly across out near neighbour Europe has become the generic name for the UK. Even in strange company and in particular in Holland or Germany where I am fortunate enough to speak the language I am quick to identify myself as being Scottish; why is this important to me? After all our sporting prowess is not exactly at the forefront of celebrated sporting moments and our beleaguered football team hasn’t seen a major football tournament final this Century. Of course we have our moments and our sporting heroes such as Jackie Stewart, Andy Murray, and Glasgow Celtic the first British Club to lift the European Cup a team made up from men and boys who lived within 25 miles of our greatest city, Glasgow and that famous international victory over the World Champions in 1967 are all moments we take great pride in, when reflecting on all that it is to be Scottish. We have Scottish delicacies that are sought all over the World, myths about some of our best kept treasures, mountains and glens, rivers and lochs with unsurpassed beauty that the rest of the World can only envy. Perhaps we don’t appreciate it until we are elsewhere in the World.
The large nation across the Pond make plenty of noise about their “Independence day” and my good friends in Holland celebrate their nationality on Koninginnedag or Queen’s Day; try being in any Dutch City on April 30th and you will find a party to beat just about any other party in Europe. So today I’m raising my glass to “being Scottish” and hope that those of you who have taken a moment or two to read my blog will raise your glass with me. If you are Scottish be proud and hold your head high, celebrate your heritage and ancestry, if you’re not please feel free to raise a glass and join us in our celebration.