In Scotland we hold ‘St Andrews’ Day as our national day but most Scots do not realise that St Saint Andrew is also the patron saint of Greece, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and Saint Andrew, Barbados!
Having recently completed our second cohort of the International Selling Growth Programme with Scottish Enterprise and indeed having considered the nuances of International Culture and how it can impact customer communication, it seems appropriate for me to share some St Andrew cultural insights and get some stories straight.
The diversity of ways in which St Andrew is celebrated ranges from in certain parts of the world (Germany, Poland, Russia Austria) St Andrew’s Day is only celebrated by single females. In these countries the evening before St Andrew’s Day ‘magic’ happens and the images of future husbands are revealed to single females.
In Romania women place 41 grains of wheat underneath their pillow the night before St Andrew’s Day and if they dream about the grains this means they will get married the next year.
In Austria woman stand naked, kick a straw bed after drinking wine then perform a spell called ‘Andreasgebet’ (a St Andrews prayer), which then attracts a husband and in Romania St Andrew is invoked to ward off wolves.
But some might say that even more incredible was that when the Scottish Government in 2006 passed the St Andrew’s Bank Holiday (Scotland) Act making St Andrews Day a Bank Holiday, it did not actually have the legal powers to make it a holiday!
St Andrew’s Day however is of course classed as the official flag day, though the flag is flown all tear round on all public buildings in Scotland, it is only flown on the second flag pole at No 10 Downing Street & at the White House on St Andrews Day. The funny thing about this is, that in most instances, they fly the wrong flag! The original color of the Scottish flag is ‘Sky Blue’ (or a very light blue) but following the act of Union between Scotland & England, the union jack incorporated a ‘Royal Blue’ saltire and from that day on, most Scottish Flags are completely the wrong shade of blue.
So recognising that Bonnie Prince Charlie was Italian, Mary Queen of Scots was French, the Haggis and Bagpipes originate in the Middle East, that tartan is largely an invention of Victorian England and on St Andrews Day itself we sometimes fly and wave the wrong bloody flag, you can appreciate either the irony that in Scotland we hold up icons to celebrate, that might not actually be remotely Scottish but it does acknowledge that we are indeed a truly international region of the world, as we draw influences from across the world, globally.
Bottom line however, Scots do all love an excuse for party so lets all raise a glass of whisky (which actually is Scottish). Slàinte.