St. Andrew's Day
"Happy St. Andrew's Day!"
Several flags outside of the United Kingdom are based on the Scottish saltire. In Canada, an inverse representation of the flag (i.e. a blue saltire on a white field), combined with the shield from the royal arms of the Kingdom of Scotland, forms the modern flag of the province of Nova Scotia. Additionally, the Dutch municipality of Sint-Oedenrode, named after the Scottish princess Saint Oda, uses a version of the flag of Scotland, with a gold castle and battlements.
The Flag of Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: bratach na h-Alba; Scots: Banner o Scotland) is also known as St Andrew's Cross or the Saltire. As the national flag, the Saltire, rather than the Royal Standard of Scotland, is the correct flag for all individuals and corporate bodies to fly. It is also, where possible, flown from Scottish Government buildings every day from 8am until sunset, with certain exceptions.
According to legend, the Christian apostle and martyr Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, was crucified on an X-shaped cross. Use of the familiar iconography of his martyrdom, showing the apostle bound to an X-shaped cross, first appears in the Kingdom of Scotland in 1180 during the reign of William I. It was again depicted on seals used during the late 13th century, including on one used by the Guardians of Scotland, dated 1286.
According to legend, in 832 A.D. Óengus II led an army of Picts and Scots into battle against the Angles, led by Æthelstan, near modern-day Athelstaneford, East Lothian. The legend states that whilst engaged in prayer on the eve of battle, Óengus vowed that if granted victory he would appoint Saint Andrew as the Patron Saint of Scotland; Andrew then appeared to Óengus that night in a dream and assured him of victory. On the morning of battle white clouds forming the shape of an X were said to have appeared in the sky. Óengus and his combined force, emboldened by this apparent divine intervention, took to the field and despite being inferior in terms of numbers were victorious. Having interpreted the cloud phenomenon as representing the crux decussata upon which Saint Andrew was crucified, Óengus honoured his pre-battle pledge and duly appointed Saint Andrew as the Patron Saint of Scotland. The white saltire set against a celestial blue background is said to have been adopted as the design of the flag of Scotland on the basis of this legend.
The Scottish Government has ruled that the Saltire should, where possible, fly on all its buildings every day from 8am until sunset. An exception is made for United Kingdom "national days", when on buildings where only one flagpole is present the Saltire shall be lowered and replaced with the Union Flag. Such flag days are standard throughout the United Kingdom, with the exception of Merchant Navy Day, (3 September), which is a specific flag day in Scotland during which the Red Ensign of the Merchant Navy may be flown on land in place of either the Saltire or Union Flag.
A further Scottish distinction from the UK flag days is that on Saint Andrew's Day, (30 November), the Union Flag will only be flown where a building has more than one flagpole; the Saltire will not be lowered to make way for the Union Flag where a single flagpole is present.
When pleated in a kilt this unique tartan pattern forms the Saltire - the Scottish flag!
For more about the National Flag of Scotland, click the Saltire.