Oh flower of Scotland – celebrating St Andrew’s Day

There is nothing like a country’s national emblem, flag or patron saint for arousing a passionate sense of belonging and national pride amongst its citizens. So, anyone in the locality of Scotland this weekend can expect to see some serious partying as the nation holds its annual celebrations for the St Andrew’s Day feast.

St Andrew’s Day is observed annually on 30 November in honour of the man who has been the nation’s patron saint since around the 10th century, and the festival also marks the start of Scotland’s season of winter festivals including Hogmanay and Burns Night. Those in the mood for a national St Andrew’s Day celebration can expect up to a week of culture, parades, music, lavish feasts of Scottish dishes such as ‘haggis, neeps and tatties’, and plenty of Scottish ‘ceilidh’ dancing to commemorate the saint.

Saltire

This year also saw the release by The Royal Mint of a 2014 £1 coin commemorating the flora of Scotland – the thistle and the bluebell. Since its introduction in 1983, the £1 coin has provided a platform on which to celebrate the four parts of the United Kingdom. So far, it has featured the Royal coats of arms, capital cities, bridges, and national emblems reflecting the characteristics and culture of each UK region.

2014 scottish £1 on saltire 2

The Scotland flora £1 coin is one of a themed series that started in 2013 with floral £1 coins representing England and Wales, and it’s the flora of Scotland and Ireland that are celebrated on the £1 coins of 2014 – so it’s worth keeping an eye on your coins this weekend as you may well see the Scottish £1 in your change!

So what is it about the thistle and the bluebell that make them the prise of the Scottish nation? The thistle has been became a national flower of Scotland during the reign of Alexander III in the thirteenth century and graced the Scottish silver coinage for the first time in the reign of James III.

FieldThistleInSpring1920X1024

The Scottish bluebell, meanwhile, is the delicate, less familiar, floral symbol of Scotland, which features in the traditional Scottish folk song, ‘The Blue Bells of Scotland’. Blue is of course the background colour of Scotland’s ‘saltire’, or flag of St. Andrew too.

Bluebell_aka_Hyacinthoides_non-scripta

It was renowned coin and medal artist Timothy Noad, a Fellow of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators, who designed the Floral coin series. His carefully-detailed Scottish thistle and bluebell emblems can not only be seen on 2014 £1 coins circulating in pockets and shop tills across the UK – The Royal Mint has also produced commemorative versions of the coin. From Brilliant Uncirculated ‘mint condition’ coins to fine gold Proof and silver Proof limited editions, Scots with a patriotic pride in their nation’s flora can have them immortalised in a collectable or precious metal coin for evermore. Visit royalmint.com to browse the range.

So if a coin-toss is needed on St Andrew’s Day to see who starts the ceilidh, there could be no more appropriate decider than a 2014 Scotland Floral £1 coin. Are you celebrating on St Andrew’s Day? Tell us about it on our Facebook page or on Twitter.

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