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Monday, 30 November 2015

The Legend and Traditions of St. Andrew's Day

Around midnight on November 29, it was traditional for girls to pray to St. Andrew for a husband. They would make a wish and look for a sign that they had been heard.

A girl wishing to marry could, throw a shoe at a door. If the toe of the shoe pointed in the direction of the exit, then she would marry and leave her parents’ house within a year.

Peel a whole apple without breaking the peel and throw the peel over the shoulder. If the peel formed a letter of the alphabet, then this suggested the name of her future groom.

German folklore advises single women who wish to marry to ask for St Andrew’s help. The night before the 30th, they would drink wine and then perform a spell, called Andreasgebet (Saint Andrew's prayer) while nude and kicking a straw bed, they will see their future husbands in their dreams.

"Heiliger Andreas, ich bitt' dich,
Bettstatt, ich tritt dich,
lass mir erscheinen
den Herzallerliebsten mein!"
Young women should also note the location of barking dogs on St Andrew’s Eve, as their future husbands will come from that direction.

St Andrew is also expected to look after gout, singers, sore throats, stiff necks, unmarried women, women who wish to become mothers, fish dealers, fishmongers, fishermen, old maids – and more!

Below, Extract taken from the Chambers Book of Days November 30th 1864, details the traditions of St. Andrew's day.


St. Andrew was the son of Jonas, a fisherman of Bethsaida, in Galilee, and was the brother of Simon Peter, but whether elder or younger we are not informed in Scripture. He was one of the two disciples of John the Baptist, to whom the latter exclaimed, as he saw Jesus pass by: 'Behold the Lamb of God!' On hearing these words, we are informed that the two individuals in question followed Jesus, and having accosted him, were invited by the Saviour to remain with him for that day. Thereafter, Andrew went in quest of his brother Simon Peter, and brought him to Christ, a circumstance which has invested the former apostle with a special preeminence.

After the Ascension, the name of St. Andrew is not mentioned in the New Testament, but he is believed to have travelled as a missionary through Asiatic and European Scythia; to have afterwards passed through Thrace, Macedonia, and Epirus into Achaia; and at the city of Patra, in the last named region, to have suffered martyrdom about 70 A.D. The Roman proconsul, it is said., caused him to be first scourged and then crucified. The latter punishment he underwent in a peculiar manner, being fastened by cords instead of nails to the cross, to produce a lingering death by hunger and thirst; whilst the instrument of punishment itself, instead of being T shaped, was in the form of an X, or what is termed a cross decussate. We are further informed that a Christian lady of rank, named Maximela, caused the body of St. Andrew to be embalmed and honourably interred; and that in the earlier part of the fourth century, it was removed by the Emperor Constantine to Byzantium, or Constantinople, where it was deposited in a church erected in honour of the Twelve Apostles.

The history of the relics does not end here, for we are informed that, about thirty years after the death of Constantine, in 368 A. D., a pious Greek monk, named Regulus or Rule, conveyed the remains of St. Andrew to Scotland, and there deposited them on the eastern coast of Fife, where he built a church, and where afterwards arose the renowned city and cathedral of St. Andrews. Whatever credit may be given to this legend, it is certain that St. Andrew has been regarded, from time immemorial, as the patron saint of Scotland; and his day, the 30th of November, is a favorite occasion of social and national reunion, amid Scotchmen residing in England and other places abroad.

The commencement of the ecclesiastical year is regulated by the feast of St. Andrew, the nearest Sunday to which, whether before or after, constitutes the first Sunday in Advent, or the period of four weeks which heralds the approach of Christmas. St. Andrew's Day is thus sometimes the first, and sometimes the last festival in the Christian year.

1 comment:

Tam B said...

Very nice summary of the saint, thank you. I didn't know about the marital folklore around him.

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