Continuing as we have been of late, catching up on our backlog of blog posts, today we’re sharing about St Andrew’s Day. Naturally, it’s the day of the feast of St Andrew, and as you might suspect, it’s an important holiday in the town of St Andrews, but more broadly, it’s important throughout Scotland; more details are on Wikipedia. It falls on November 30 each year and this year there were festivities on that day and the next (Friday and Saturday).
The town of St Andrews has a ruined castle and cathedral, and the castle got a special upgrade this year on St Andrew’s Day. For the first time, the town installed lights so that this iconic sight can be viewed at night. We attended the lighting ceremony that Friday night, which kicked off with a pipe band. And before you say anything negative about bagpipes, they sounded great.
Once the lighting ceremony completed, the cathedral looked like what you see below. The cathedral once stretched from the wall you see in the back left of the photo all the way to its crumbled counterpart in the foreground, with a larger ceiling near the center. The squarish tower far away in the center of the photo is the Tower of St Rule, which you can still climb today to get a lovely view of the town.
If you wonder what the cathedral once looked like in medieval times, you’re in luck! It’s been reconstructed in virtual reality, and you can watch a video tour of that virtual reconstruction.
The next night the town hosted a dance party in the streets. Traditional Scottish dances (ceilidhs, pronounced kay-leez) were the focus. A stage was set up on the west end of South Street and several blocks were cordoned off for dancing. Hundreds of people showed up.
So that you can see just how many people showed up, the following video looks left and right down the few blocks that were reserved for dancing.
The band was aware of the fact that most people did not grow up doing ceilidhs. (St Andrews is a rather diverse town, not just a ton of Scots and us. There is a university here, and the students are from many countries around the world, mostly the countries in Great Britain, Europe, and the US.) Consequently, before each song, they taught all three blocks worth of people how to do the dance, one step at a time. You can see Mary Ella and I learning to dance The Flying Scotsman in the next two videos.
And of course, once we learned it, then we did it. Thanks, Mary Ella, for being the only one brave enough to get off the sidewalk with me and join the fray!