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April and I live in St. Andrews, Scotland, a town named after Andrew, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. Legend states that the bones of Andrew were brought here in the eighth century by St. Regulus. A monastery associated with Andrew’s relics soon arose, and this was followed by St. Regulus Church in the eleventh century and, in the twelfth century, the famous St. Andrews Cathedral.
St. Andrew plays an important role in Scottish culture. He is the patron saint of Scotland, and the Scottish flag bears the mark of his cross, the saltire. Also, on November 30th, Scotland celebrates St. Andrew’s Day. April and I were fortunate to participate in many of the day’s celebrations this year.
Our day began, though, not with a celebration of St. Andrew but of Advent. Our university chapel offered an early Advent service that featured songs from the university choir as well as Scripture reading and prayer from several of our friends. The BBC broadcasted the service live throughout the entire UK, and it was interesting to play a (small) part in the experience. Our university chapel is beautiful, and it truly provides a feeling of transcendence.
After the chapel service April and I went to our home church, St. Andrews Baptist, for worship. April had to go to work after the church service, so I went out to explore St. Andrews on my own. I first wandered into the historic Royal and Ancient Golf Club on the 18th hole of the Old Course. St. Andrews is the home of golf, and the Old Course is the one you have most likely seen on television.
I also took advantage of the local Masonic Lodge’s open house in order to snap a few pictures of the historic Lodge No. 25. I am not a Mason, but the building was stunning.
April returned home from work late in the afternoon, and we closed out the day together by attending the town’s St. Andrew’s Day celebration on South Street. It featured local musicians and artists, as well a ceilidh, a Scottish dance that looks amazingly fun. The dance took place right in the street, and both students and townspeople participated. I’ve heard that when Pope Benedict XIII authorized the University of St. Andrews in 1413 that nearly the entire town went into the streets to dance with joy. I can only imagine what that dance must have been like, but I can say that tonight’s dance was pretty spectacular. There were two bands—a live band on stage and a marching band that played bagpipes—and both blasted out joyful tunes on a street that was illuminated almost solely by Christmas lights (called fairy lights here).
Of course, no great day is complete without good food, and April and I did go to Costa for a quick snack. Normally a coffee shop does not merit much attention, especially when it is a nondescript chain restaurant. However, Costa is so shockingly superior to Starbucks that it merits special mention. Behold the glory of Black Forest Hot Chocolate:
I’ve included a few more pictures from today’s outing in St. Andrews. Notice the beautiful St. Andrews Castle below.