St. Andrew’s Flag Day in Russia Date in the current year: December 11, 2024

St. Andrew’s Flag Day in Russia On December 11 every year, the Russian Navy celebrates St. Andrew’s Flag Day. It commemorates the adoption of the Saint Andrew’s flag as the naval ensign of the Imperial Russian Navy.

The Saint Andrew’s flag has a white background with two blue diagonal bands, forming an X-shaped cross. This cross is a widely used heraldic symbol known as Saint Andrew’s Cross, the saltire or the crux decussata. According to Christian tradition, Andrew the Apostle was crucified on an X-shaped cross at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on an upright, T-shaped cross as Jesus had been.

St. Andrew’s Cross and its saw-toothed form called the Cross of Burgundy are used in numerous flags across Europe and America, including the flag of Scotland, the flag of Gascony, the Union Jack, the flag of Nova Scotia, the flag of Rio de Janeiro, the flag of Jamaica, the flag of Jersey, and others. Naval ensigns with the saltire include the Second Confederate Navy Jack, the ensign of the Royal Scots Navy, the naval flag of the Kingdom of Sicily, and the naval ensign of the Imperial Russian and Russian navies (because Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Russia).

According to Orthodox tradition, Andrew the Apostle preached in Kyivan Rus’, and from the he traveled to Novgorod. In Novgorod, he erected a cross on the bank of the Volkhov river, near the present-day village of Gruzino. After that, Saint Andrew traveled to the island of Valaam in Lake Ladoga, where he destroyed pagan temples of the gods Veles and Perun and erected another cross. Hence, he became a patron saint of Russia.

In 1698, Russian emperor Peter the Great established the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle the First-Called, which was awarded for the most outstanding public service and military exploits. The badge of the order bore a blue saltire with St. Andrew crucified upon it. It was the first use of Saint Andrew’s Cross in Russian heraldry.

The next year, the emperor devised a flag for the Russian navy, which also included St. Andrew’s Cross. The design was approved on December 1, 1699, which corresponds to December 11, New Style. The Russian navy celebrates the anniversary of this event as St. Andrew’s Flag Day, although it wasn’t until 1712 that St. Andrew’s flag was officially adopted as the Imperial Russian Navy ensign.

After the Russian Revolution, the Red Army didn’t use the St. Andrew’s flag as its naval ensign. It was replaced by the communist red flag. However, the White movement continued to use the St. Andrew’s flag until its defeat in the Russian Civil War.

The naval ensign of the Soviet Union had a white background with a light blue horizontal band at the bottom and a red star and a red hammer and sickle above the band. After the collapse of the USSR, the Russian navy abandoned the Soviet naval ensign and reintroduced the St. Andrew’s flag. It was officially adopted as the ensign of the Russian navy on July 21, 1992. Five days later, on Russian Navy Day, Soviet naval ensigns were solemnly lowered on all Russian ships, and St. Andrew’s flags were raised instead.

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St. Andrew’s Flag Day in Russia, holidays in Russia, holidays in the Russian Navy, St. Andrew’s Cross, saltire