St Andrew’s Day

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 28th November 2019.

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Photo of Claire Baker Claire Baker Labour

I thank Tom Arthur for securing the debate. I have appreciated listening to members describing the history of St Andrew’s day, as well as talking about Robert Burns, but today St Andrew’s day more typically marks the start of Scotland’s winter festivals and all the related seasonal celebrations.

The day also provides an opportunity to step back from the festival preparations, to take a break from the buying and planning and to think more about celebration of our culture. A modern part of St Andrew’s day is fair Saturday, which seeks to create a positive social aspect by bringing people together in a way that can contrast with much of the commerciality that is part of the festive season.

Black Friday, which was once little known outside the US, has quickly become an event here in the UK that lasts for days, if not weeks. It can provide an opportunity to pick up a pre-Christmas bargain, although Which? is publishing evidence this week that exposes some false bargains for what they really are. As others have, I have been inundated with emails and adverts encouraging me to spend even more at this time of year.

When we get black Friday deals, we should remember how they work and their potential impacts on workers and smaller businesses. Many small businesses and producers are unable to compete with the large-brand offers, perhaps because they are struggling to keep prices low while maintaining fair wages, or because high-quality production methods have higher costs. I encourage members to think tomorrow about smaller producers, ethical businesses, fair traders and local enterprises, and about what they have to offer by way of high-quality produce at fair prices.

This weekend, thousands of artists and cultural organisations across the world will celebrate fair Saturday. I am pleased that a number of events are taking place across my region—many of them at libraries in Fife—including art exhibitions, family fun days and creative mindfulness colouring. At each library, food donation areas will be set up for local food bank charities. In St Andrews, there will be particular celebrations that will include storytelling and craft sessions, an international ceilidh and the big torch parade, with music and fireworks, as part of the St Andrews big hoolie.

As it did in previous years, Historic Environment Scotland will provide thousands of free tickets to abbeys, palaces, castles and cathedrals over the weekend, in order to let people across the country visit historic buildings and learn about our history and culture. It is a great opportunity to get inside some of Scotland’s great attractions, including Stirling castle, Doune castle, Dunfermline abbey and palace, Aberdour castle and Castle Campbell, which are all in my region.

On St Andrew’s fair Saturday, events and activities all over Scotland will bring people together to celebrate sharing, fairness and social inclusion. The day is an opportunity for us to celebrate the culture of Scotland and to promote inclusivity and compassion. It is a day to show Scotland as a welcoming and open place in which to live and work.

The briefing from BEMIS for the debate is a welcome reminder of how St Andrew’s day reflects—as it should—the increasing ethnic and cultural diversity of our communities. Local multicultural celebrations are taking place across Scotland and present an important opportunity to celebrate community cohesion and collaboration in an atmosphere of respect and solidarity.

St Andrew’s day is a day on which we can reaffirm our opposition to racism in all its forms, and celebrate the racial and ethnic diversity of Scotland. The annual Scottish Trades Union Congress St Andrew’s day march and rally against racism will take place on Saturday at Glasgow Green. It is an important event that demonstrates the diversity and inclusivity that are vital to Scotland.

St Andrew’s day is a day of national celebration. It provides a chance for us to enjoy our cultural heritage and to encourage the diversity of Scotland and the positive relationships that exist across our communities. It is a reminder of the importance of promoting tolerance, dispelling ignorance, bringing people together and appreciating all the aspects that make Scotland the vibrant and welcoming country that it is.