Saint Andrew is the Apostle protecting Scotland, Greece, Romania, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Barbados. St. Andrew is also the patron saint of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. In Scotland, the Feast of Andrew is called ‘Saint Andra’s day’ and is celebrated on November, 29-30. Andrew the Apostle is known as the ‘Apostle of the Romanians’ and the Christianizer of the Geto-Dacian population.
Who was Andrew the Apostle?
Also called Prōtoklētos (Greek: Πρωτόκλητος) or the ‘First-called’, Andrew the Apostle is the younger brother of Saint Peter. Born Bethsaida, Israel, with his father and brother Peter they continued the family tradition: fishing. He was initiated in the mysteries of the ‘new religion’ by Prophet John the Baptist and when St. John calls Jesus the ‘Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1, 29), St. Andrew decides to dedicate his life to a religious purpose.
Matthew’s Gospel describes the moment when St. Peter and Sr. Andrew were both called together to become disciples of Jesus and ‘fishers of men’: “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me’, Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him (Matt. 4, 18-20).”
According to Eusebius of Caesarea,
“The Saints Apostles of the Savior and their disciples spread all over the world that was populated at that time. According to the tradition, Thomas was chosen to go to Parthia, Andrew to Scythia and John to Asia’.”
We do not know the year of his martyrdom, some historians say it was during the persecution of Emperor Nero, around years 64-67, others much later, at the end of the Apostolic Age, during the persecution of Emperor Diocletian.
The idea that he died on a cross under the shape of an X appeared only in the 15th century, and there is no concrete data about this, and the fact that the date of his martyrdom is unknown raises certain question marks about the legend of ‘Saint Andrew’s Cross’. Anyway, the legends and myths have a grain of truth.
Saint Andrew and the Dacian New Year
Folklorist Tudor Pamfile, in his work Mitologia poporului roman (Mythology of the Romanian People) reminds that the Dacian New Year took place in the period 14 November – 7 December, a sacred moment, when the wheel of the world goes back to the starting point. In this interval the Dacian priests would organize special ceremonies that had as central element the veneration of the Wolf, the totemic animal of the Thracian-Gets.
The Dacian New Year coincided with the Roman religious ceremonies that celebrated Saturn, the Master of Time. Saint Andrew preached in the Danube-Black Sea area and spent, according to the oral traditions, nearly four years in a grotto situated in Constanta County (Romania).
Therefore, the association with the image of the Wolf and connection with the God of Time, Saturn, came naturally and got roots in the collective mentality.
Romanian traditions of Saint Andrew’s Day
Protection rituals for Saint Andrew
Thus, the night from 29 to 30 November becomes the night when skies open up, wolves speak, protection rituals are performed, single women dream about their marriage prospects and magic rules everywhere. Time dilates, the hours have no value and visions or spiritual experiences that from the chronological point of view last a few minutes are perceived as lasting years.
They say that this night, Saint Andrew restores the balance between the two worlds, and to call on him it is good to make the sign of the cross with a cut garlic above the entrance door and house windows.
Rucodelia (hand wrought) tradition
The Feast of Saint Andrew, the Christianizer of the Romanians, is accompanied by a tradition kept for centuries, associated with the term ‘rucodelia’.
The word ‘rucodelia’ (Rąkodĕlije) means in Slavic ‘hand wrought’. This term is used in the Lives of the Fathers, Philokalia and writings of the Saints to designate the hand wrought for hermits.
Rucodelia had two meanings: first, it means that occupation, accompanied by the Jesus Prayer, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner’; the second explanation is this means of supporting oneself financially by selling these hand-made objects.
The tradition to put wheat to sprout before the Birth of the Lord, when we can decorate our house with it, give it to someone or use it in salads because it is a nourishing plant. If you want to respect the tradition, you can take a deeper plate, a bowl not too high or another recipient of glass or clay and put a layer of earth or cotton. Sprinkle all over plenty of wheat, one grain next to the other. Water it once a day. The wheat will sprout and grow approximately 1 cm per day.
As some of you may already know, I’ve written before about the Romanian traditions and superstitions about garlic, so I would recommend you to read the article. It will give you an in-depth analysis on how Romanians really feel about the garlic. And if you are truly curios about garlic, you can also read The Almighty Healing Garlic, another article which talks about the empiric old beliefs about garlic’s medicinal properties.
As in the case of other plants, popular traditions related to garlic’s magical powers are connected with some important religious celebrations (St.George’s Day, Pentecost, Christmas, New Year, etc). Garlic’s magical powers are especially connected with Saint Andrew’s Day. Below I’ll try to summarize some of these traditions, yet without getting into details:
- The Garlic Dance (“Hora Usturoiului”) in Moldova – It is believed that the garlic guarded during this traditional party gets healing properties. It is also said that this garlic it’s good to be kept with them by travelers and while doing business or negotiations
- Garlic juice and garlic garlands are repellants against ghosts and various types of evil spirits. Garlic garlands are also seen around the houses even today. They all keep safe people, animals and house
30 November is a special night of strong energies, so I invite you to take advantage and protect yourself against negative energies by doing a protection ritual or applying over techniques you are familiar with.