Sunday, November 30, 2014

Andrew, Whose Day is Today — is a Well-rounded and Well-traveled Saint

St. Andrew, sans golf clubs
"Hey, today is St. Andrew's Day," I say to hubby. "He's the patron saint of . . . "

"Golf?" hubby interjects.

I ponder this for a while, trying to think of a famous golfer named Andrew. I'm stumped.

"Why do you say that?" I ask.

"Because of St. Andrew's, the famous golf course in Scotland."

"Oh!" I say. "Well, he's the patron saint of Scotland."

Then I decided to do a little search on the saint, to see if anyone else has dubbed him the patron of golfers, and, well, yes. He is considered to be the patron saint of fisherman, evangelists, Scotland,  Russia, and golfers. (Russia has a few other patron saints.)

He is the patron of fishermen because he was a fisherman, and was fishing with his brother, Peter (aka Simon), when Jesus called them both to follow him, saying "I will make you fishers of men."

Andrew and Peter were also present when St. John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus the Messiah, and then the two of them followed Jesus to the place where he was staying at the time, but this was Andrew's idea, so that apparently made him the patron of evangelists. (They weren't stalkers, btw; Jesus invited them. Of course there are a few variations on this, and I'm no biblical scholar, so I'm referring to this source, and the first chapter of John, verses 40–42, in my mother's Revised Standard edition).

The Scottish flag, featuring the St. Andrew's cross, or saltire

And Scotland? Because some 300 years after he was crucified by the Romans on an X-shaped cross in Patras, Greece (because he did not feel he was worthy to be crucified on the same sort of cross as Jesus), part of his remains were taken by St. Rule (you look that guy up, I have a narrative to finish here) from St. Andrew's tomb in Constantinople because St. Rule "was told in a vision to take the bones to the 'ends of the earth' for safe keeping." So, naturally, he took them to Scotland, to a settlement that later came to be called St. Andrews. (From Scottish History Online.)

The X-shaped St. Andrew's cross is also called the saltire, a word with a curious etymology of its own, and which forms the blue-and-white Scottish flag and is also incorporated into the UK's Union Jack.

Image "borrowed" from True Fresco online art shop

Now, of course, the town of St. Andrew, Scotland, is best known for its famous and beautiful golf courses, seven in all, to date. The playing of golf in Scotland dates back to sometime in the 15th century, and the Old Course at St. Andrews was established in 1552.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Plaid Friday — It's a thing!

Image "borrowed" from Minneapolis Happening Mag

First, I'll just admit that I have never liked "Black Friday." The name just sounds dreary and ominous, and the shopping frenzy at the mall and big box stores even worse. I've never really understood the appeal or why so many people want to subject themselves to it, and with such zeal, no less.

So then there was Buy Nothing Day, an anti-consumerism campaign started by Ad Busters; an understandable rebellion against the rampant consumerism that reaches such a fevered pitch at this time of year.

But that always seemed a little extreme to me. Sure, I could take all the money I would normally spend for gifts and decor and such and give it to some worthy charities instead, while spending the holiday season on meaningful activities that don't involve buying things.

But, let's be honest here: What's the fun in that?

I think Buy Nothing Day misses a very important point: that it's possible to engage in the consumer economy in a moderate, enjoyable, and beneficial way, and set aside some of your holiday budget to give to charity.

And I think it overlooks the equally important fact that it isn't just about the mega retailers who depend upon Christmas shopping to keep their shareholders happy. Small, independent businesses in our communities need our dough for their very survival; and they aren't asking for charity, they're offering an excellent value, because they not only sell cool stuff—unique items, often locally  handmade, quirky secondhand goods, or imported through fair trade cooperatives, that you won't find at the big stores—but they also provide a pleasant, personal shopping experience, and help to make our neighborhoods vibrant.

So along comes Plaid Friday. Started in Oakland, California, in 2010, it's an initiative of small independent businesses to promote shopping local and small on what is otherwise known as Black Friday. And they encourage people to wear plaid while doing so!

The plaid gambit isn't just a playful thumbing of noses against the big guys, although that would be reason enough to get on the plaid bandwagon, but it was conceived as symbolic of:

weaving the individual threads of small businesses together to create a strong fabric that celebrates the diversity and creativity of independent businesses  (From the Plaid Friday website.)

It's been spreading throughout the country since its inception in 2010, and it has recently come to the Twin Cities (possibly last year, though I only learned about it a few days ago). 

I may have to start my plaid Friday outing by shopping for a plaid scarf to wear.