About the middle of the 10th century, Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland, which is referred to several tales.
Image: "Seal of Andrew Forman", archbishop of St Andrews, 1867,
from Ecclesiastical Chronicle of Scotland (Scotichronicon) Vol. 1
Source: By Gordon, JFS [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
One legend tells about a Greek monk called St Regulus, who had a vision in a dream and was directed by an angel to take the part he could of St Andrew’s remains from Constantinople into the "ends of the earth" for safe-keeping. St. Regulus took a tooth, an arm bone, a kneecap and some fingers from St Andrew's tomb and transported them far away. At the coast of Scotland lands St. Regulus was shipwrecked with his precious cargo. The relics of St Andrew were brought to the settlement on the coast which was afterwards called St Andrews. From those early days, the Christian religion had had a strong influence in the development of the town, and pilgrims came there from all over Europe to worship the Saint’s relics. The significance and cult of St Andrew was so strong that in some time he became the patron saint of Scotland.
According to another legend, in 832 AD Óengus mac Fergusa, the king of the Picts, led his army into a battle against the Angles, in the area near modern village of Athelstaneford, in Scotland. By praying before the battle, Óengus vowed, that in case of their victory he would appoint St Andrew as the Patron Saint of Scotland. Just before the battle he saw the clouds in the sky, forming the shape of St Andrew’s cross, as a marvelous divine sign. They managed to win the battle, even if being less in number, and so Óengus, keeping his vote, proclaimed St Andrew as the Patron Saint of Scotland. Due to this legend, the white saltire cross on a celestial blue background has been used for the flag of the country.
Today the feast of St Andrew is the official national day of the country, making part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals, which are aimed to bring together people from all over the world to celebrate the culture and traditions of the country through the best of Scottish music, arts, food and drink, innovation and entertainment. Great number of events and local celebrations are held along the country in this period. Traditionally, people eat fish on St Andrew’s Day, because he was a fisherman.
In Amalfi (Campania region, Italy) the feast of the patron saint coincides with the “miracle of St Andrew”, when the sacred manna is exuded by the relics of the Saint, kept in the town cathedral. By the local belief, if it doesn’t happen, it means that the Saint is “in discontent”, and some misfortune may happen.
Magical night traditions around Europe
In many rural areas of Central and Eastern Europe a lot of traditions and habits related to St Andrew´s Eve are still preserved, showing Christian elements combined together with a millenary heathen belief elaborated and maintained across many generations. Most of them are linked with two main themes: the return of the dead people on the earth and the marriage.
Some stories tell that on the St Andrew´s night, the border between the earth and the Other World disappear, so the spirits can haunt the earth. The traditions are connected with the protection against bad spirits wandering on this night among the living people.
For example, in Romania this night is called “the night of the wolf bringing the winter”, and is considered dangerous for the extremely active spirits. The people are used to close all doors and windows, sprinkling them with garlic to keep away the spirits.
In some areas of Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine and Romania, there is a superstitious belief that the night before St. Andrew's Day is especially suitable for magical divinations about future husband and marriage. One of the most spread rituals is pouring the hot lead into water and guessing the future husband's occupation from the shape of the resulting piece. In Poland they pour hot wax from a candle through a key hole into cold water for the same purpose.
In Austria, girls drink wine and then recite “Andreasgebet” (Saint Andrew's prayer), remaining nude and kicking a straw bed. This was supposed to attract magically the future husband. Another custom is to throw a shoe over one's shoulder: if it lands pointing to the door, the woman will get married and leave parents’ house in the same year.
In Czech Republic and Slovakia, young women would write down the names of potential husbands on little pieces of paper and put them inside dough, making so-called “halusky” (a kind of soft dumplings). When cooked, the first one to float to the surface of the water would reveal the name of their future husband.
In Poland, some women put the pieces of paper with different male names written on them under the pillow for the St Andrew’s night, and the first one they took out in the morning revealed the name of the future husband.
In Ukraine and Moldova, girls made little round cookies “balabushky” of white wheat and water. The water for them was required to be brought from the well in the mouth. Meeting such a girl with the water in her mouth, the young men usually tried to make her laugh and lose the water. When balabushky were ready, each of the girls chose one and marked it by a coloured stripe or a piece of paper. Then they put cookies on a cloth and let a hungry dog enter the house. By the manner the dog ate her balabushka the girl could tell her future: for example, the first cookie eaten corresponded to the first girl to get married, if the dog took the cookie into the corner it meant that the girl would be brought far away from home by her destiny. Finally, if the dog ate just a piece of the cookie and then bit another one, it meant that the girl would have married a widower.
In Moldova, a similar cake is used for this divination, the ”balambushte”. At the midnight girls got 9 big drops of water from the nearest fountain, took 9 pinches of salt and added all to wheat flour, baking a cake. The girls ate this cake before going sleeping and without drinking any water. As the cake was quite salty, the girls were supposed to dream someone bringing them water. The man coming and giving a cup of water, was going to be their future husband.
In Moldova, the girl wanting to know her future husband, had to stay naked between two mirrors at the midnight with two burning candles, one in each hand. She looked at the mirror in front of her, in order to see in the back mirror. In the latter, she could see some images of the future, especially the image of her future husband. By another version, the girls lit a candle blessed at Easter and brought it to a fountain at midnight, asking St Andrew to let them see their future husband in the water. According to another belief, at midnight of St Andrew´s Eve, the girls overturn a pot and put three burning coals on the bottom. Afterwards, they sing a very old spell, learned from their grandmothers, to conquer the heart of a boyfrend.
There is a curious Moldovan tradition, almost a joke, connected to the marriage. On this night the young men use a uncommon way to show their attention to the girls. They steal the doors of the gates around the houses of their favourite girls, while the village is sleeping. Then they exchange these doors with each other and set them up on another gate, usuallly in the neighbourhood. At the next morning the relatives in that house have to search for their doors, to get them back and set up again on their gate, thus understanding that someone had put his eye on their daughter.
In Romania, young women put 41 grains of wheat beneath their pillow before going to sleep, and if they dream that someone is coming to steal their grains, it means that they are going to get married next year. Those grains were blessed in the church the winter before and had been kept until St Andrew´s night near the home icons.
Image: "Divination" by Konstantin Vasilyev (1942 - 1976), Russian illustrator.
Taken from http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/konstantin-vasilyev/divination-1