Saint Andrew is the brother of Saint Peter, our first Pope. Both of the
brothers were born in Bethsaida, and became fishermen, eventually
making their way to Capernaeum, a fishing village on the northern shore
of the Sea of Galilee.
Of the brothers, it was Andrew who first heard of Our Lord: he and St. John the Evangelist were
disciples of St. John the
Baptist, who bade them to follow Christ.
And Andrew, the
brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who had heard of John, and
followed Him. He findeth first his brother Simon, and saith to him: We
have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
Hence Andrew's title as "The First-Called." Christ Himself asked them
to follow Him as well, telling them He'd make of them "fishers of
And Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren,
Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into
the sea (for they were fishers). And He saith to them: Come ye after
me, and I will make you to be fishers of men. And they immediately
leaving their nets, followed Him.
Aside from his being listed as a disciple, his presence during Christ's
discourse on eschatological things (Mark 13), his presence at the
miracle of the loaves and fishes (John 6), and his and Philip's telling
Jesus about some Gentiles who wanted to see Him, everything we know
about St. Andrew comes from extra-scriptural sources -- from
tradition. Various Fathers reveal that, after the death and
resurrection of Christ, St. Andrew preached in Scythia, Epirus, Hellas,
Cappadocia, Galatia, Bithynia, Byzantium, Thrace, Macedonia, Thessaly,
and Achaia. It was in Achaia that he was crucified, being hanged on an
X-shaped cross on November 30, in the year A.D. 60, while Nero reigned.
His relics were translated to the cathedral in Amalfi, Italy, a
beautiful seaside town in Campania, near Naples.
It's believed, too, that some of his relics were taken to Scotland in
the mid-first millennium, and many churches there are named in his
honor. The very conversion of Scotland to Christianity is attributed to
St. Andrew, so he's become the patron of that country (and of Russia).
His X-shaped cross adorns their flag --
-- and Scotland's St. Andrew's Cross was later incorprated into the
Union Jack -- along with the Cross of St. Patrick used by the Irish
(the red X-shaped Cross), the Cross of St. George used by the English
(the red T-shaped Cross), and
the St. David’s Cross used by the Welsh (the white T-shaped Cross):
St. Andrew's Day
is often used as a marker for the date of Advent: the Sunday
closest to November 30 -- whether before, after, or on November 30 --
is Advent Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent. Because Advent is a
penitential season, St. Andrew's Day often has the celebratory
character of a mini "Fat Tuesday."
Traditional fare might include Scotch Broth:
1 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder or shanks (can use beef with bones
2 tablespoons butter or lard
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/3 cup dried green split peas
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups chicken broth
1 large carrot, diced
1 turnip, peeled and diced
1 rutabaga, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
1/2 cup shredded green cabbage
1 medium leek, chopped, rinsed and drained
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish
Cook the onions and garlic in the lard or butter until
softened, 4-6 minutes. Add the lamb, herbs, barley, split peas,
salt and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover
and simmer for 2 hours. Skim off any foam, and add the carrot, turnip,
rutabaga and parsnip. Simmer for 60 minutes more. Remove
the bay leaves and thyme sprigs, then remove the meat, shred it and
give the bones to your dogs. Return the meat to the pot along
with the leek and cabbage. Simmer for another 30 minutes.
Add salt to taste. Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley.
It's traditional for some to begin
a Novena to the Immaculate Conception on
St. Andrew's Eve (November 29). More popularly, the St. Andrew's Christmas Novena is
prayed beginning on the Feast of St. Andrew itself. This brief novena
is prayed fifteen times a day, beginning on
St. Andrew's Day and ending on Christmas Eve, for a total of
twenty-five days in all.
Because of his
importance to the country, St. Andrew's Day is a national holiday in
Scotland. His X-shaped cross is used there and in England as a symbol
to fight against evil. One can find it inscribed on fireplaces and over
doorways and the like, all in order to keep demons and witches far away.
In Poland, where St. Andrew's Day is known as Adrzejki, there's a
tradition involving St. Andrew's Eve,
the night of November 29. Girls will melt wax and pour it through the
hole of a key (the antique sort, with the large holes in their
handles), into a bowl of cold water. The room is darkened, a single
light is lit, and then the cooled, hardened wax is pulled out and held
up against the light so it casts a shadow on the wall. The resulting
shadow's shape is said to indicate something about whom they'll marry.
Another Polish tradition is for unmarried girls to line up their shoes,
with the first placing her shoe with its heel up against a room's back
wall. The next girl places the heel of her shoe to the toe of the first
girl's shoe, toward the direction of the door. The third girl does the
same, and the first girl whose shoe crosses the threshold is said to be
first who'll marry (if there are too few girls to make it across the
room, take shoes from the back of the line and move them to the front,
toward the door).
A third Polish tradition has each unmarried girl peeling an apple,
making a peel that's as long as possible. She then throws the peel over
her shoulder and tries to determine what letter the shape of the peel
most looks like. This letter will be the first letter of her true
It goes without saying that traditions like these should be done in the
spirit of fun, not seriously, with any thoughts of divination.