Scotland and China celebrate St Andrew’s Day in Beijing

St. Andrew's Day Message from the First Minister of Scotland

St Andrew has been beloved in Scotland for over a thousand years, and was officially recognised as our patron saint as far back as 1320. However, did you know that the first St Andrew’s Day celebration didn’t take place until 1729? Or that it didn’t even happen in Scotland?! In fact, St Andrew’s Day was actually started as a way of allowing homesick Scottish migrants around the world to reconnect with their homeland. This tradition continues just as strongly today, and each November 30th millions of Scots, and Scots at heart, come together in celebration of their shared passion for Scotland.

This is no different in China; where in the lead up St Andrew’s Day this year a couple of wonderful events were put on in Beijing. These events, The Scottish Alumni Ceilidh on November 24th and the Annual St Andrew’s Charity Ball on November 25th, brought together hundreds of people to enjoy a night of Scottish festivities. Both events saw Chinese and Scottish culture fused together in seamless fashion to create two fun and distinct evenings.

First up was a night of highland dancing at The Scottish Alumni Ceilidh, which was hosted by the Scottish Government. The event brought together more than 200 Scottish university alumni from all over Beijing to dance the night away. This was done with the help of the Beijing alumni associations of three of Scotland’s ancient universities: University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow and University of St Andrews.

The Scottish Alumni Ceilidh has become a wonderful tradition for graduates from Scottish universities. Each year they come together and celebrate Scottish tradition and culture in Beijing. Amazingly, this year’s event managed to attract alumni from 8 of Scotland’s 19 universities, making it one of the most popular events yet!

The following night saw the Annual St Andrew’s Charity Ball held at the luxurious China World Hotel in the heart of Beijing. Over 260 people attended the ball this year which was hosted by the Beijing Scottish Society in association with the Scottish Government. A live band that specialises in Scottish music was invited all the way from Edinburgh to provide entertainment. As well as this, to make sure everyone was up to speed on their highland dancing, a series of dance classes were put on for guests in the lead up to the event!

However, alongside a night of good food, good music and good cheer, the spirit of giving was also in full flow. Organisers arranged a charity raffle to be held during the event, ensuring vital funds were raised for a good cause. In total, more than £8000 (RMB 70,000) was raised for chosen charity, Gift of Life, who specialise in helping children with heart disease.

This is a huge amount of money for a truly worthy cause which really embodies the spirit of St Andrew. Our patron saint lived by a simple philosophy: be kind to each other and share what you have with those less fortunate. It is great to see Scotland’s national day continuing to be celebrated around the world, not only by Scots but also people who have an affinity with Scotland. On top of this, the essence of why St Andrew’s Day was created also stands the test of time, creating occasions where Scotland can be celebrated at the same time as helping those in need.