Knowing what to do on 30 November has long been a puzzle, but Stephen Jardine has a suggestion . . .
Happy St Andrew’s Day. Falling on a Saturday means this year we can really push out the boat and celebrate – but there is one small problem. What on earth do we actually do?
Most people seem to like the idea of our national day, especially since it became a bank holiday in 2006. But how do we actually commemorate some bloke who was a fisherman in Galilee in 5AD?
Unlike our other national occasions, St Andrew’s Day has always been a celebration in need of a purpose.
Christmas, Easter and even Burns Night have a clear proposition behind them but 30 November is the Jim Corr of big events, always there for us but we are not really sure why. The Scottish Government has tried its best. One year we were encouraged to eat Scottish lamb. This year the focus is on a social media campaign encouraging us to carry out an act of kindness for someone in our community. But if every year brings a different message, it is hard to build momentum.
What we really need is something simple that can unite us all and plays to what we do best.
We could stage an annual song contest to find a replacement for the dirge that is Flower of Scotland. Hopefully Lewis Capaldi would win it every year.
Or we could have an annual football fixture where the best teams in the world come to Hampden and ritually humiliate the Scottish national team. However that happens anyway.
Or we could allow Underbelly to create a huge celebration stuffed with overpriced booze and tat and allow that to take place without any planning permission. Hang on, that happens anyway as well.
I think we need something better and I might just have an idea.
Back in 2010 St Andrew’s Day was a big deal for me. On Burns Night that year I made a rash, whisky-fuelled pledge to only eat Scottish produce until St Andrew’s night. I woke up on 26 January with a giant hangover, no orange juice and a long year ahead.
Thankfully it turned out to be a great experience. I learned so much about Scottish food and drink over that year and ate differently but well. On St Andrew’s night that year, I cooked a big feast to mark the end featuring the beef, lamb and seafood that had sustained us through the year.
There is nothing to stop each and every one of us celebrating with a St Andrew’s Night Supper tonight. It might be mince from the local butcher served with tatties the way it has always been. It might be haddock or salmon from the fishmonger or langoustines if you are feeling flush. Or a shoulder of Scottish lamb cooked low and slow on the bottom shelf of the oven.
The point is to celebrate our country and the natural bounty it produces. With Brexit worrying many food producers, even a one-day boost could not be more welcome at this time.
Buying local supports jobs, cuts food miles and keeps money where you live but it makes for tastier, healthier food as well.
So why not cook something Scottish for St Andrew’s Day today? It doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy; it just needs to remind you how lucky we are to be born Scottish.