St. Andrews Day is quite obviously Scotland’s national day; it is in honour of the country’s patron saint and as such, it is a day for people to commemorate in the manner they feel to be appropriate, with music, food, and dance. It also marks the beginning of late fall and early winter festivals in Scotland, including Hogmanay and Burns Night.
It is a great thing to celebrate, being Scottish, and St. Andrew’s Day is certainly the day to do it with all of the meaning it entails for the people of Scotland. Why not go out and have a good time, preferably with family and friends?
Presumably, some of those events will take place not only in Scotland, but throughout the rest of the UK as well because of those bonds between friends and family that have developed as a result of Scots and others of Scots ancestry living in London, Belfast, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, and elsewhere who celebrate St. Andrews Day. In turn, it also becomes observed in some way by those who are not Scottish, but simply enjoy the day.
Because of this, St. Andrews has a UK dimension extending beyond Scotland, and therefore, it can be described as a British holiday marking the feast day of one of the four UK patron-saints, with the others being St. George for England, St. Patrick for Northern Ireland, and St. David for Wales.
In this way, Scottishness is wrapped up in Britishness, as has been the case for centuries since England and Scotland came together as Great Britain in 1707. The Acts of Union passed by the then existing Scottish and English parliaments provided for the maintenance of Scotland’s legal system and church, as opposed to trying to merge both with their counterparts in England and Wales. This was a good thing, because it preserved a distinct Scottish social and cultural identity within the new country that had been created, which over time contributed to an overall British identity shared by everyone based on both the differences and commonalities that had heretofore existed.
This speaks to the ability of the United Kingdom to accommodate diverse identities which overlap one another to forge an identity any person can call their own regardless of where they are born, because on a fundamental level, it is all British, just as in the US where we have fifty states and a multitude of regional and ethnic identities, we somehow take it all in and call it being American.
In conclusion, St. Andrews Day is very much a Scottish day, but also British as well. It is important to note that at 10 Downing Street, the Saltire is usually raised above the Prime Minister’s residence in honour of the day, the saint for whom it is named, and country which has accepted him as its patron. Next to it is the Union Flag, which contains the Saltire and which represents the UK as a whole, and this act, along with similar actions in cities across the UK, is representative of how Scottishness is an important and valued pillar of Britishness. Therefore, St. Andrews Day ought to be commemorated with that fact in mind and people should feel comfortable with both identities on this day and indeed, every day.
By Wesley Hutchins - http://www.handsacrosspond.com/