Today is St Andrew's Day. 30th November is celebrated as a national saint's day not just here in Scotland, but also in Russia, Greece and Romania. He is our saint because a monk called Rule brought one of St Andrew's bones to Scotland in the fourth century; Rule was actually shipwrecked at a place now known as St Andrews. And the holy relic, held for centuries in the cathedral there, caused St Andrews to be a great place of pilgrimage until the Reformation. Still the pilgrims come, but now they bring their golf clubs.
And now that we have a Scottish National Party Government, today has increased prominence and civil servants are enjoying a National Holiday. We are encouraged to become involved and Nairn Academy, my daughter's school, has obliged by creating a St Andrew's flag made of 1000 staff and pupils .
This year St Andrew's Day is also being used to launch the Year of Homecoming 2009 with a very neat little TV advertisement: "Caledonia" featuring pop singers, sportsmen and even Sean Connery. Worth watching.
One of the most prominent events of Homecoming 2009 is the The International Clan Gathering in Edinburgh next July, but if you are planning to be there, you should be stirring yourself as tickets (known as 'passports') are in short supply. (Only from Scottish Clans and Castles can you still get a hold of Gold Passports!).