Skirling bagpipes, swinging kilts and flying Saltires – they’re a sight for captive eyes in Scotland. But on November 30th the country steps it up as it celebrates our patron saint, St Andrew.
For those of you not in the nostalgic north this Wednesday, here are five ways to celebrate #ourstandrewsday from absolutely anywhere. Even in London.
1. Step we gaily…
Curtain up for a ceildih! A popular form of social gathering in Scotland, ceilidhs were the traditional setting for dancing, singing and storytelling. These days, the latter two have slowly been upstaged by dancing and socialising.
So clue yourself up on your Eightsome Reel, Gay Gordons and Strip the Willow, and join Scotland in pounding the floorboards in celebration of St Andrew.
2. Thistle do
As Scotland’s national emblem, the thistle is credited for protecting Scottish clansmen from the invasion of Kind Haakon of Norway in 1263. When one of his men stood barefoot on a thistle during a planned ambush, his scream alerted the sleeping Scots who quickly picked up arms for battle.
So if you don’t have the energy for a raucous Scots ceilidh, pin a thistle into your buttonhole to recognise St Andrew’s Day instead.
3. Not so offal
Traditionally, a sheep’s stomach stuffed with offal, haggis in its original form, somehow never acquired a particularly appetising image. And it’s all part and parcel of Scotland’s quality of lifestyle.
These days, however, the dish is made from lamb, beef, oats, onions and spices, inside a synthetic casing. There’s even a vegetarian haggis option for all occasions; whether grabbing a bite to eat at Smithfield Market or at a cosy dinner party with friends in Notting Hill.
Serve with neeps and tatties (that's turnips and potatoes) for a traditional Scots meal this November. These days whisky sauce is a popular addition; heck why not even make it a festive feast?
4. Bottoms up for new gin and beers
Talking of whisky, there’s always a good reason to invest in a bottle of high quality Scotch, but St Andrew’s Day in particular calls for a celebratory dram.
If straight whisky isn’t your thing, indulge your inner Mad Men with Don Draper's favourite “Old Fashioned” – a whisky-based cocktail made with Angostura bitters and a sugar cube.
5. Face the music
Music is integral to Scottish culture. Some of the world’s best bands hail from Scotland – including The Proclaimers, Franz Ferdinand, Biffy Clyro and Primal Scream, and the demand for more traditional music remains high. Celtic, folk and acoustic are ‘music to the ears’ in pubs and by street bands across the country.
So, whatever you choose to play, make sure you enjoy some Scottish music and tap your feet for Saint Andrew!
Celebrate this Wednesday in your own special way.