It is a night of magic and mystery
In the English speaking world, we are familiar with Halloween, a night dedicated to fun, mystery and a celebration of the supernatural. Across the globe similar festivals exist. There is the Japanese Obon and the Chinese Festival of Hungry Ghosts, both dedicated to honoring the ancestors and especially those spirits who have nobody to pray for them. In Eastern Europe, there is an equally interesting holy day which for centuries has been a night of divination and magic and according to an ancient legend a time when witches, vampires and werewolves roam the countryside at their most powerful. This is the Feast of Saint Andrew which falls on the 30th of November.
Much of what we know about this popular first century saint comes from the apocryphal text The Acts of Andrew. Andrew was the brother of St. Peter, the first pope, and was originally a follower of John the Baptist who led him to Jesus. Both Andrew and Peter were fishermen from Bethsaida and Jesus urged them to become fishers of men. Andrew was first to answer the call to follow Jesus, which is why is the Eastern Orthodox churches he is known by the title Prōtoklētos, which is Greek means “the first called.”. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, Andrew travelled out of the Holy Land and evangelized many of the peoples of Eastern Europe where there is still a strong devotion to him today. Andrew was martyred in Patras, Greece by crucifixion on an X shaped cross. After his martyrdom, his popularity spread throughout Europe and then the rest of the world and many churches today hold his relics. The Archbishop of Constantinople, first among the Orthodox Patriarchs, is known as the successor of Saint Andrew. We can certainly see in Andrew an example of answering the call to holiness and service.
Curiously in Eastern Europe, especially Poland, Ukraine and Romania, the feast of Saint Andrew has become associated with supernatural beings and occurrences. There are no direct references to Saint Andrew’s association with the occult in sacred scripture, so it is plausible that his feast day occurs around the time of an ancient pagan observance on which divination and magic were widely practiced, but still there is no concrete proof of this. Nevertheless superstitions and magical practices abound on the night of November 30th. In Poland, this night is associated with divination especially in regards to marriage. One popular tradition states that if you place a walnut or chestnut into a fire and recite the alphabet, the letter on which the nut cracks will be the initial of the first name of your future spouse. Another tradition popular throughout Eastern Europe says that if you go to the apple or cherry orchard on St. Andrew’s Day and cut a twig from a tree and then keep it in a glass of water in a warm place in your home that you will marry the following year if the twig blossoms before New Year’s. In Romania, Saint Andrew’s Eve is associated with vampires and werewolves who are believed to be at their most powerful on this night. To this day, in rural villages, peasants will often rub garlic cloves on their windows and farm animals and decorate their doors with garlands of wind roses to offer protection against the undead and witchcraft. Saint Andrew himself is invoked against supernatural attack as well. Another curious legend, and one that I have experienced personally and on which I will expand further below, is that on this night buried treasure can be found in the countryside wherever one sees a mysterious blue light glowing about the ground. If the light happens to be green, it’s best to avoid the treasure since it is protected by supernatural means. In short, it is truly a night of mystery and magic!
At the other end of Europe, in the Galicia region of Spain there is a famous shrine dedicated to Saint Andrew and keeping with his association with the supernatural, there is much magical folklore surrounding this remote oratory. A popular legend says that those who do not go to San Andrés de Texido alive must do so after death before their souls can go to Heaven. Visitors to San Andrés de Texido carry rocks which they deposit is large piles near the temple as proof that they have made the pilgrimage. In addition to the occult folklore that surrounds this rural church, there is no doubt that many miracles have been brought about through Saint Andrew’s intercession. I have not made the pilgrimage to San Andrés but definitely intend to do so at some point in my life.
On a personal note, I have experienced a supernatural occurrence on Saint Andrew’s Eve. It happened fourteen years ago before I knew much about Saint Andrew and the folklore surrounding his feast day. I was driving on an icy cold night on rural roads in Whately, Massachusetts and in the middle of a frost covered field I saw a blue circular light shoot up from the ground and then fall back down and hover as a dull glow. The first thought that crossed my mind was that it could be some kind of UFO of somebody conjuring energy as part of an occult ritual. As I was in unfamiliar territory, I just drove on. Had I know at the time about the legends surrounding buried treasure being exposed by a blue light of Saint Andrew’s Eve, I most certainly would have stopped to investigate!
I hope you have enjoyed learning about this powerful saint and the supernatural events associated with his feast day. This 30th of November, or any time you’d like, you may wish to offer a prayer for his blessing and protection and make a small offering such as a candle or some flowers. May Saint Andrew bless and protect us and may our lives be filled with peace and happiness!