Sunday, 30 November 2008
St Andrews Day
Scotland's Calvinist background has meant St Andrews Day had no meaning whatsoever. Today however, while St Andrew himself is of no importance to the majority of the populace, the day has once more found a place. Scotland, and independent nation dragged into a Union in 1707 by English aggression, has never submitted to an English yoke. This does not mean a union is not possible, and indeed beneficial, however it does show how the arrogance of England has never been accepted by the Scots. The union could work but only if England and the English joined in. Something they have never done! To them 'Britain' equals 'England.' An unacceptable idea to a free people. Indeed there was a serious intent to call Scotland 'North Britain' at one time, and when that failed, as it would, their arrogance's in the South merely chose to refer to Britain as 'England,' an attitude common around the First World War.
Scots independence from England had been in the middle of the nineteenth century when Conservative politicians (no less) felt Ireland received more money than Scotland. (Tory policy is always money dominated!) The growth of independence saw an attempt at a 'Home Rule' bill which was hindered by the outbreak of the Great War. It must be added that in spite of this, and at a time Scotland was in full employment and economic growth, Scotland responded wholeheartedly in support of the war. Unlike England, half of the men of military age enrolled, most suffered as the Scots divisions fought in every major battle during the conflict! In the twenties an independent movement continued, and again the depression and Second World War brought this to an end. However after much institutional English racism, not allowed against blacks in the BBC and elsewhere, but acceptable against Scots, Scotland once again has a degree of self rule. Nationalism grows when people are mistreated, or worse, treated with contempt, as the Scots have been by their English neighbours. This is a pity, as for the most part, Scots would work well with a people they have so much in common with, but it has never been an English habit to regard anyone but them selves as important. One example of media racism was noted, not against Scots, but the other Celtic nation Wales, today. The report on the BBC regarding England's loss to New Zealand at rugby concentrated on England. The report on the Welsh defeat of Australia spoke not of 'Wales' but of a 'Northern Hemisphere' victory! The commentator would not accept a Welsh win over an English defeat. Unconscious maybe, but reflect the racism that lies at the heart of England.
What about St Andrew himself? Well as we know Andrew was Peter's brother, and Peter, and he were appointed apostles by Jesus himself by the lake of Galilee all those years ago. That Andrew continued with Jesus during his earthly walk is clear, but what then? No-one knows! While it is true there are a myriad tales of his exploits, writings and deaths, (he apparently died in several different manners) nobody actually has any real idea of his story. There are tales of his bones being kept in Constantinople, and by various means working their way to Britain. From Hexam, where there stood a major Abbey, a monk brought them to Scotland and told the inhabitants there, Picts as it happens, the bones in the bag were St Andrew himself! They must have been amazed as a town of that name now stands on the Fife coast. A sign in the sky of two long streaks of white on the deep blue background (possible airline passing over) at that time became the Scottish 'Saltire' flag. The flag of St Andrew!
Who really knows? In days of yore when few could read, and the bible was a closed book to many, superstition abounded and religion was second to political gain. No change there then! Lacking a biblical understanding people came to put their hope in 'saints' of many sorts, some even Christian, and in time all nations had their own personal 'saints' who would plead before God on their behalf. The new Testament makes clear that only Christ Jesus, the great high priest, pleads before the throne, and that using his own blood shed on the cross. By no other name can men be saved. A 'saint' by the way, is simply someone who receives Christ Jesus death on behalf of his rotten nature, believes Gods mercy and Holy Spirit and finds a new life. Each Christian is in fact a 'saint.' No need for anyone 'special,' bar Jesus himself.
Have a happy, though frozen, wet, dreich, St Andrews Day. That's how Scots have become used to celebrating it. Only Scotland could find it acceptable to have a saints day in the middle of winter! Why not July I ask? Because it would rain then also. that's why!