Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

The Feast of St. Andrew

Saint Andrew is the brother of Saint Peter, our first Pope. Both of the brothers were born in Bethsaida, and became fishermen, eventually making their way to Capernaeum, a fishing village on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Of the brothers, it was Andrew who first heard of Our Lord: he and St. John the Evangelist were disciples of St. John the Baptist, who bade them to follow Christ.

John 1:40-41
And Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who had heard of John, and followed Him. He findeth first his brother Simon, and saith to him: We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

Hence Andrew's title as "The First-Called." Christ Himself asked them to follow Him as well, telling them He'd make of them "fishers of men": 

Matthew 4:18-20
And Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishers). And He saith to them: Come ye after me, and I will make you to be fishers of men. And they immediately leaving their nets, followed Him.

Aside from his being listed as a disciple, his presence during Christ's discourse on eschatological things (Mark 13), his presence at the miracle of the loaves and fishes (John 6), and his and Philip's telling Jesus about some Gentiles who wanted to see Him, everything we know about St. Andrew comes from extra-scriptural sources -- from tradition.  Various Fathers reveal that, after the death and resurrection of Christ, St. Andrew preached in Scythia, Epirus, Hellas, Cappadocia, Galatia, Bithynia, Byzantium, Thrace, Macedonia, Thessaly, and Achaia. It was in Achaia that he was crucified, being hanged on an X-shaped cross on November 30, in the year A.D. 60, while Nero reigned. His relics were translated to the cathedral in Amalfi, Italy, a beautiful seaside town in Campania, near Naples.

Some of his relics, though, were taken to Scotland in the mid-first millennium, and many churches there are named in his honor. The very conversion of Scotland to Christianity is attributed to St. Andrew, so he's become the patron of that country (and of Russia). His X-shaped cross -- called a "saltire" -- adorns their flag --

-- and Scotland's St. Andrew's Cross was later incorprated into the Union Jack -- along with the Cross of St. Patrick used by the Irish (the red saltire), and the Cross of St. George used by the English (the red T-shaped Cross):


St. Andrew's Day is often used as a marker for the date of Advent: the Sunday closest to November 30 -- whether before, after, or on November 30 -- is Advent Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent. Because Advent is a penitential season, St. Andrew's Day often has the celebratory character of a mini "Fat Tuesday." In Scotland, where St. Andrew's Day is a national holiday, traditional fare might include Scotch Broth, Neeps and Tatties, and some dolled-up shortbread:

Scotch Broth

1 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder or shanks (can use beef with bones instead)
2 tablespoons butter or lard
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/3 cup dried green split peas
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups chicken broth
1 large carrot, diced
1 turnip, peeled and diced
1 rutabaga, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
1/2 cup shredded green cabbage
1 medium leek, chopped, rinsed and drained
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Cook the onions and garlic in the lard or butter until softened, 4-6 minutes.  Add the lamb, herbs, barley, split peas, salt and broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Skim off any foam, and add the carrot, turnip, rutabaga and parsnip.  Simmer for 60 minutes more.  Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs, then remove the meat, shred it and give the bones to your dogs.  Return the meat to the pot along with the leek and cabbage.  Simmer for another 30 minutes.  Add salt to taste. Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley.

Neeps and Tatties

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 pounds yellow turnips, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Place potatoes a large pot; cover with water and bring to a boil. Do the same with the turnips. Cook both until tender, about 30 minutes depending on how small you've cut the vegetables up (the neeps -- the turnips -- will likely take a tad longer than the tatties). Drain. Mix them together, add butter and mustard powder, and mash until well incorporated. Stir scallions, salt, and pepper into the mash.

Millionaire’s Shortbread Recipe

For the shortbread crust layer:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
12 Tablespoons (3/4 cup) butter, cold and diced up
7 Tablespoons sugar

For the middle layer:
11 Tablespoons (2/3 cup) butter
10 oz can condensed milk
7 Tablespoons maple syrup

For the chocolate on top:
12 oz chocolate (dark or milk, up to you)

Preheat oven to 3500F. Mix flour and cold bits of butter until you form a mixture with the texture of breadcrumbs. Add sugar and mix until incorporated. Pour the mixture into a 99-inch baking pan lined with parchment paper, and  press down to create a firm crust . Bake at 3500F for 30 minutes or until golden. Set aside and let the shortbread cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, middle layer ingredients together in a saucepan over medium heat. Keep stirring until you form a smooth mixture. Increase the heat and bring mixture to a boil, stirring until the mixture is thick and golden brown. Let it cool some, then pour over the first layer and let cool completely.

Heat the chocolate -- either in microwave using 20-second bursts and stirring in between, or in a double boiler -- until the chocolate is about 75% melted. Stir to make smooth, and pour over the cooled middle layer. Chill for an hour, then cut into squares and serve.

And if you're not a Scot, you can pretend you are, the same way "everyone's Irish" on St. Patrick's Day. Enjoy some Scotch Whisky, have a game of "who has the worst Scottish accent?", and listen to some traditional Scottish music, like the haunting "Loch Lomond" -- a Jacobite song about two lovers parted by death when one dies for his King:

Loch Lomond

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond,
Where me and my true love were ever wont to gae,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.

O ye'll tak' the high road, and I'll tak' the low road,
And I'll be in Scotland a'fore ye,
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.

'Twas there that we parted, in yon shady glen,
On the steep, steep side o' Ben Lomond,
Where in soft purple hue, the highland hills we view,
And the moon coming out in the gloaming.


The wee birdies sing and the wildflowers spring,
And in sunshine the waters are sleeping.
But the broken heart it kens nae second spring again,
Though the waeful may cease frae their grieving.


In the land of kilts (and in England as well), St. Andrew's X-shaped cross is used as a symbol to fight against evil. One can find it inscribed on fireplaces and over doorways and the like, all in order to keep demons and witches far away.

In Poland, where St. Andrew's Day is known as
Adrzejki, there's a tradition involving St. Andrew's Eve, the night of November 29. Girls will melt wax and pour it through the hole of a key (the antique sort, with the large holes in their handles), into a bowl of cold water. The room is darkened, a single light is lit, and then the cooled, hardened wax is pulled out and held up against the light so it casts a shadow on the wall. The resulting shadow's shape is said to indicate something about whom they'll marry.

Another Polish tradition is for unmarried girls to line up their shoes, with the first placing her shoe with its heel up against a room's back wall. The next girl places the heel of her shoe to the toe of the first girl's shoe, toward the direction of the door. The third girl does the same, and the first girl whose shoe crosses the threshold is said to be the first who'll marry (if there are too few girls to make it across the room, take shoes from the back of the line and move them to the front, toward the door).

A third Polish tradition has each unmarried girl peeling an apple, making a peel that's as long as possible. She then throws the peel over her shoulder and tries to determine what letter the shape of the peel most looks like. This letter will be the first letter of her true love's name.

In various countries (e.g., Germany, Wales, Czechoslovakia, et al.), single girls are told to listen for a dog barking; the direction whence the bark comes is the direction she'll find her future husband.

It goes without saying that traditions like these should be done in the spirit of fun, not seriously, with any thoughts of divination.

In Amalfi, Italy, a city for whom St. Andrew is patron, a great procession is had of a Neapolitan Baroque bust of St. Andrew. It is carried from the cathedral to the sea, where fishermen are blessed and floral wreaths thrown into the water. At some point during the day, his reliquary is opened, and sometimes his remains give off a healing oil of saints. With regard to St. Andrew's relics, this phenomenon began on the eve of his feast in 1304 when an old man went to Father Pierantonio Suraldi, informed him that he would find the oil of saints on Andrew's relics, and -- disappeared (Fr. Suraldi used the oil to restore sight to a blind man from Tramonti). The evening's festivities are marked by fireworks. St. Andrew is also honored in Amalfi on June 27 in remembrance of  when, in 1544, the Saint protected Amalfi by bringing about a terrible storm in the city's port when the Ottoman pirate Barbarossa tried to attack.

It's traditional for some to begin a Novena to the Immaculate Conception on St. Andrew's Eve (November 29). More popularly, the St. Andrew's Christmas Novena is prayed beginning on the Feast of St. Andrew itself. This brief novena is prayed fifteen times a day, beginning on St. Andrew's Day and ending on Christmas Eve, for a total of twenty-five days in all.

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