EVENTS are taking place in Scotland and around the world to celebrate St Andrew’s Day today.
The centrepiece for the celebrations is in St Andrews, Fife, where Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, will take part in a procession which will be headed by a new university mace that has been gifted by the Catholic Church to St Andrews University.
Elsewhere, more than 200 attractions are offering special entry across the country after Historic Scotland gave away thousands of free tickets.
Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “As 2014 draws to a close, St Andrew’s Day offers a timely opportunity to pause and reflect on the momentous year that this has been for Scotland.
“In Scotland we are proud to be known as an outward-looking nation. This year, the eyes of the world have also been on us like never before.
“We have welcomed friends and visitors from across the globe, to enjoy the ‘best ever’ Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup, MTV Europe Awards and our second year of Homecoming.”
Prime Minister David Cameron used his St Andrew’s Day message to stress the importance of working together for a “successful future”.
The Saltire will be flying “proudly” above 10 Downing Street to mark Scotland’s national day.
Referring to the referendum, Cameron said: “There was one big message at the heart of our campaign: we can have a strong UK and a strong Scotland with its own identity and achievements to celebrate. That’s what St Andrew’s Day is all about.
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“As we celebrate St Andrew’s Day, we celebrate Scotland, this great nation of culture and enterprise, of pride and passion, whose countrymen and women gave the world the steam engine, the television, penicillin, James Bond, Harry Potter – even the Higgs boson.
“Today, Scotland’s national day, the world shows its admiration for those achievements, and the bagpipes will ring out from the islands of Argyll to the streets of New York.”
The Prime Minister added: “Everywhere you look around the globe, people want a bit of Scotland. The key to a successful future is working, as one, for the good of us all. That is why all of us – in every corner of our country – will be celebrating St Andrew’s Day and why nowhere will the Saltire be flown more proudly than here, above 10 Downing Street.”
Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary, Margaret Curran MP, said: “St Andrew’s Day is about celebrating Scotland and the values we hold dear – those values of fairness, equality and solidarity that have always been so much of what it means to be Scottish.
“This year we have seen people across the country involved in a strong and passionate debate about our future and how we make Scotland the fairer and better place we want it to be. I don’t doubt the passion of anyone – Yes or No supporter – to make Scotland a better place to live, work and raise a family. And on this St Andrew’s Day, we should commit ourselves again to working together to make that better Scotland a reality for this, and coming, generations of Scots.”
Stephen Duncan, director of commercial and tourism for Historic Scotland, said the ticket giveaway provided a great way to visit Scotland’s attractions for free on St Andrew’s Day.
He added: “There are a huge amount of sites to choose from – from the recently restored palace of James V at Stirling Castle to the magnificent Border abbeys.”
The ticket giveaway was part of the Scottish Government’s Winter Festivals campaign which celebrates Scotland’s festivals – St Andrew’s Day, Burns Night and Hogmanay – and this year forms part of Homecoming 2014.
Celebrations are also taking place across the world.
In Colombo, the high commissioner John Rankin will be the chief guest at the annual St Andrew’s Ball organised by the Caledonian Society of Sri Lanka.
The day will also be marked on a warship in Barbados, on what is also the country’s National Day. There will be a mass at the Vatican with the Pontifical Scots College. Diplomats will host a reception with Scottish Development International for contacts in India.
Meanwhile, a leading figure in the independence campaign and a former Labour lord provost have joined forces to urge all Scots to celebrate the country’s national day regardless of how they voted in the referendum.
Dennis Canavan, who chaired the Yes Scotland advisory board, and Eric Milligan, who was lord provost of Edinburgh for seven years, said both Scotland’s flag and Scotland’s national day were “not the property of any single group or political party”.
• Fiona Hyslop MSP reflects on the meaning of St Andrew’s Day: scotlandonsunday.com
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