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St. Andrew's Day

Novembre 2014
Il 30 novembre la Scozia è in festa: si celebra il patrono, St. Andrew. La croce del santo è l’emblema della bandiera scozzese, la X bianca su sfondo blu che è anche l’elemento distintivo dell’Union Jack: tutto sarebbe cambiato se fosse passato il referendum. Pericolo scampato, almeno per la bandiera...

di Jonathan Cameron

File audio:

Speaker: Derek Allen (Standard British accent)

November 30th is St. Andrew’s Day. St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, and so it will be a time of celebration north of the border. It marks the beginning of Scotland’s winter festivals. They will continue with “Hogmanay” on New Year’s Eve and Burns Night, in honour of the national poet, Robert Burns, on January 25th.


St. Andrew’s Day is a national holiday in Scotland even if, after the defeat in the independence referendum in September, the mood will probably be more melancholic this year. One person who is not very happy is the Scottish tennis star Andy – or Andrew – Murray. He tweeted in support of independence on the day of the referendum, and many  British people criticized him.


St. Andrew isn’t only the patron saint of Scotland. He is also the patron saint of Greece, Romania, Russia and Ukraine. He was an apostle, and it is said that he was crucified on an X-shaped cross. This explains the X shape of the St. Andrew’s flag. His connection with Scotland is a bit of a mystery. According to legend, his relics arrived in Scotland in the 10th century “under divine guidance.” The relics appeared in a port which is now called St. Andrews. This town is famous for two other reasons: it is the home of St. Andrews University, a prestigious institution where William and Kate first met as students. It is also “the home of golf,” Scotland’s national sport.


The Scots chose St. Andrew as their patron saint in the 10th century. Later they adopted the X-shaped blue and white flag, which is also called “the saltire.” The flag situation became interesting when Scotland and England came together to form “The Kingdom of Great Britain” in 1707, and when Ireland joined in 1801 to form “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.” The flag for the “Kingdom of Great Britain” was simply a combination of England’s red and white St. George’s Cross and Scotland’s blue and white diagonal St. Andrew’s Cross. When Ireland joined the Union, the red and white diagonal St.Patrick’s Cross was added. The new flag was called “the Union Jack” and it is was attractive even if, unfortunately, it did not include a Welsh flag.


The flag didn’t change when most of Ireland became independent in the 1920s. “Northern Ireland” stayed in Britain and so the St. Patrick’s Cross remained part of the Union Jack. In the case of the Scottish referendum, a victory for the Yes vote would have changed the flag. It would have been impossible to keep the St. Andrew’s Cross in the Union Jack. A new British flag – without the St. Andrew’s Cross – would have been very ugly!

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Would have been very ugly! Sarebbe stata molto brutta! Qui troviamo alcuni esempi del past conditional in inglese: would have changed the flag (avrebbe cambiato la bandiera), it would have been impossible (sarebbe stato impossibile). The conditional in inglese si forma con would + l’infinito: I would say (direi), I would like (mi piacerebbe), I would think (penserei). The past conditional si forma con would + have + the past participle: I would have said (avrei detto), I would have liked (mi sarebbe piaciuto), I would have thought (avrei pensato). È relativamente semplice in inglese (rispetto all’italiano) poiché la forma non cambia: I, you, he/she, we, you, they would have said.