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Today, 30th November, is St. Andrews’ Day in Scotland in the UK.

St. Andrews’ Day is the official National Day in Scotland, and in 2006 was designated an official bank holiday by the Scottish Parliament.

St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, and also Greece, Russia and Romania. He was one of Jesus Christ’s Twelve Apostles, and is thought to have been a fisherman like his brother Simon Peter (Saint Peter).

St. Andrews’ Day is an opportunity for people around the world to celebrate Scotland’s culture and heritage. The 2009 celebrations are intended to be the biggest and best yet, with a spectacular programme of activity because this year St. Andrews Day is also a key part of the finale weekend of the Homecoming Scotland year.

2009 is Scotland’s first Homecoming Year, and the year has consisted of a calendar of events marking the 250th anniversary of Scottish poet Robert Burns’ birth and celebrating all things Scottish.

Homecoming Scotland 2009 and the Scots Language

There is some disagreement over whether Scots is a language in its own right, rather than one of the ancient dialects of English. Some believe that it is the ‘English of Scotland’, a part of General English; others that it is a Germanic language as distinct from English as Swedish is distinct from Danish.

Its relationship with the English of England has been compared to Frisian in the Netherlands, which is dominated by Dutch, and Norwegian which was once dominated by Danish.

Scots vocabulary overlaps with English, but Scots has words that are absent from Standard English. Some words are shared with dialects of Northern England, others are unique to Scotland. Distinctive Scots vocabulary comes from a variety of sources, including Old English, Old Norse, French, Dutch and Gaelic. *

Here is some text written in Scots (from the Homecoming Scotland web site), with the partial English translation below it:

Scots

“Hamecomin Scotland 2009 is a year-lang leet o events tae celebrate aw that’s guid aboot Scotland. 2009 is the anniversary o the birth o Scotland’s maist kenspeckle makar, Robert Burns. Jine us tae merk Burns’ birthday, Scottish contributions tae gowf, whisky and Scotland’s muckle minds and innovations forby. Whither ye bide faur awa or doon the road, come hame tae oor ain unique cultur and heritage. In 2009, come hame tae Scotland.”

English

“Homecoming Scotland 2009 celebrates the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth. We’re also celebrating some of Scotland’s great contributions to the world: golf, whisky, great minds and innovations and Scotland’s rich ancestry and culture.” **

Try their Think You Know Scots? quiz with words like fankle, ramgunshoch and genty

Find out more about the Scots language from the Scots Language Centre

or listen to Scots language on the Scots Language Centre’s channel on YouTube.

St. Andrews Day fans are invited to join the online World Wide Ceilidh, where you and a partner can upload your photos, put on a kilt and a sporran, and dance a Scottish reel! The kilt and sporran are part of Scottish national dress – see the photo above.

St. Andrews’ Day Traditions

Across Europe, in parts of Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Romania, there are superstitious beliefs that a woman’s future husband can be revealed on the night before St. Andrews’ Day.

From the Homecoming Scotland site:

“In some parts of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, young women would write down the names of potential husbands on little pieces of paper, and stick these into little pieces of dough, called Halusky. When cooked, the first one to float to the surface of the water would reveal the name of their future husband.

In Poland, it is popular for women to put pieces of paper (on which they have written of potential husbands) under the pillow and first thing in the morning they take one out, which reveals the name of the future husband.” **

Do you have any St. Andrews’ Day traditions in your country? I’d love to hear about them.

Photo of Scottish piper by SteveWagner / Hyun Hee Jeong

* Oxford Companion to the English Language

**© 2008 EventScotland

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